Hulu could beat Apple to market with cable-style Internet TV service

“Hulu is developing a subscription service that would stream feeds of popular broadcast and cable TV channels, people familiar with the plans said, a move that would make the company a competitor to traditional pay-TV providers and other new digital entrants,” Joe Flint and Shalini Ramachandran report for The Wall Street Journal. “The company hopes to launch the new cable TV-style online service in the first quarter of 2017, the people said. Walt Disney Co. and 21st Century Fox, which are co-owners of Hulu, are near agreements to license many of their channels for the platform.”

“Disney’s ABC, ESPN and Disney Channel are expected to be available on the service along with the Fox broadcast network, Fox News, FX and Fox’s national and regional sports channels,” Flint and Ramachandran report. “Preliminary conversations with other programmers have begun, but the service isn’t looking to offer all the hundreds of channels found in the traditional cable bundle, according to the people familiar with the plans. Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal is also an owner in Hulu, but so far hasn’t agreed to license its networks for the planned digital pay-TV service, the people said”

“Hulu hasn’t set a price for its planned service but Sanford C. Bernstein media analyst Todd Juenger estimated that it would likely cost around $40 a month. An executive close to Hulu said that figure was in the ballpark,” Flint and Ramachandran report. “Many companies are vying to offer an online version of cable TV in some form… Besides Sling and Vue, other new entrants in digital TV include Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube, AT&T Inc., T-Mobile US and Apple Inc. Many of these players are seeking to deliver a subscription pay-TV package that includes a dozen or so popular channels for a price between $24.99 and $39.99, media executives have said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Hopefully, Apple can work out deals to finally launch their long-awaited programming bundle(s) before first quarter 2017. How about for Christmas 2016, please, at least?!

As we’ve oft written: Apple’s Internet TV service will have to have ESPN. It will also likely require the “Big Four” networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC) – although it could launch with three out of four and eventually hammer out a deal with whichever one is being the most reticent. That said, having already missed the launch of the new Apple TV, Christmas 2015, and the Chinese New Year, Apple might as well wait until they have a full dance card.

What others networks should be considered to be must-haves?

Beyond the Big Four, if you go by primetime ratings (total viewers), the top 20 U.S. cable networks are:

2. Fox News Channel
2. USA
3. TBS
4. Disney
5. Discovery Channel
6. History Channel
7. TNT
9. Nickelodeon
10. AMC
11. Adult Swim
12. FX
13. Cartoon Network
14. Food Channel
15. Lifetime
16. ABC Family
17. Syfy
18. TLC
19. Hallmark
20. Investigation Discovery

Source: Nielsen estimates, Live plus-3 for Dec. 29, 2014 – Dec. 16, 2015 (M-Su 8-11 p.m.)

ESPN president: Don’t hold your breath for standalone ESPN streaming – February 18, 2016
Apple cuts the cord on Internet TV plans – December 17, 2015
Apple, TV networks clash over size and makeup of Internet TV bundle – December 9, 2015
Apple debuts new Apple TV ad, ‘The Future of Television’ – December 9, 2015
Greedy media companies stymie Apple’s plan to offer Apple TV Internet TV package – December 9, 2015
CBS CEO Moonves says Apple puts live TV service ‘on hold’ – December 8, 2015
Fox’s James Murdoch, CBS’s Les Moonves hint at looming Apple Web TV service launch – November 5, 2015
CBS CEO Moonves says Apple TV content deal is likely – October 14, 2015
CBS CEO: We’re still in negotiations with Apple over new Internet TV service – May 27, 2015


  1. I foresee lots of bumbling and blundering ahead as these companies attempt to emulate the lousy-ass cable TV bundling bullshit over the Internet. I foresee lots of FAIL. I also foresee lots of incentive for Internet users to find OTHER ways, some of which will be nefarious, to get their programming without having to deal with all this corporate manipulation and price gouging.

    1. Agreed. There is a big revolution waiting to occur here. The pent-up demand for reasonably priced TV access is massive. Cost will be the #1 criterion. I believe the winner is going to be the company that can provide that service with the smallest possible margins. I don’t think Apple can do that. The winner may be a company that we least expected. Hulu might have something here.

      1. Certainly if cost is the #1 criterion, this is not a place Apple knows how to play in. Apple charges premium prices, period. I don’t see if Apple is simply packaging someone else’s programming, exactly what is Apple bringing to the party, the Apple TV hardware?, hardly groundbreaking enough.

  2. I do not want a bundle- I want a la carte. I already have a bundle of shit from Comcast that I do not want and do not wish to subsidize.

    HULU is owned by Comcast (NBC), Disney (ABC/ESPN), and Murdoch (Fox TV). Do you think there is a chance in hell they will sell you a package without their cash cows?
    No fucking bundles

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