Hulu Live lets you switch seamlessly between live TV and a stable of hits that include “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Hulu is joining the live streaming party.
The video-on-demand subscription platform just announced Hulu Live, a live streaming service with about 50 channels ranging from sports to news and entertainment. Hulu Live is available in beta form today, and customers in the U.S. can sign up for a basic package that costs $39.99 monthly. Channels in the basic tier include Fox, ABC, CBS, ESPN and National Geographic, while you can tack on Showtime for $9 more.
Unlike its existing Hulu.com offering, which offers access to just one user at a time, Hulu Live will support simultaneous streaming on two devices (you can pay more for unlimited access.) The starting package comes with 50 hours of recording cloud storage —where you can keep programming you want to watch later— and access to Hulu’s existing library of videos, which on its own costs upwards of $8.
In practical terms, it just became possible to seamlessly switch from a live version of say “The Late Show” to “The Handmaid’s Tale.” This makes Hulu the first major pay-TV operator to offer such a service since Netflix and many others don’t currently have live programming.
An ad-free option is available for an additional $4, though live programming will—as it always has—come with ads. Hulu is also adding a personal touch to the service. An algorithm will offer recommendations based on your viewing history and the time of day in which you’re accessing the service, while sports fans will automatically get directed to the channel on which their favorite team is playing.
“By bringing together thousands of live, on-demand and library shows and movies — and serving them up in a uniquely personalized way – Hulu can now be a viewer’s primary source of television,” says Mike Hopkins, Hulu chief executive in a statement.
Hulu is competing against the likes of AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Sling, which have had live streaming channels available for some time now. It comes with the big advantage of being owned by major TV channel operators such as Comcast, Disney and 21st Century Fox, which have previously shied away from an online-only pay TV service. 21st Century Fox and Moneyish publisher Dow Jones share common ownership.
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