Hulu and A+E Networks have inked a deal to add an A+E suite of channels to its live streaming product, Variety has learned. The deal adds live and on-demand streaming access to A&E, History, Lifetime, LMN, FYI, and Viceland to Hulu’s core package of more than 40 live channels, which is set to launch this spring.
“As we begin to finalize our new live TV service, we’re pulling together the most valuable, well-rounded package of channels available for under $40,” said Mike Hopkins, CEO of Hulu. “We know the A+E Networks brand of award-winning storytelling is important to our viewers, and we’re very excited to add their networks to the core service we launch this spring.”
“We are thrilled to expand our partnership with Hulu to offer our A+E Networks’ portfolio of brands on their live TV streaming service at launch,” said Nancy Dubuc, President and Chief Executive Officer, A+E Networks. “Having our top six networks available on their core package speaks to the power of our entertainment portfolio in reaching men, women, adults and millennials.”
Currently, Hulu has signed distribution deals with 21st Century Fox, CBS Corp., The Walt Disney Company, and Turner, and will include broadcast networks ABC, Fox, and CBS at launch. (Negotiations with NBC Universal are ongoing, sources say.) A+E Networks, it should be noted, is a joint venture between Disney and Hearst; incidentally, Viceland is a joint venture between A+E Networks and Vice Media, which itself counts Disney and 21st Century Fox among its stakeholders, at 18% and 5%, respectively.
The A+E deal comes not long after YouTube’s unveiling of its own live TV package, which will weigh in at $35 a month. However, while YouTube TV will include broadcast networks in certain markets and their associated cable nets — for a grand total of 40 channels — the service in its current pre-launch form has raised some questions about just how efficient these live streaming packages can be, with programmers seeking carriage fees equal to or greater than what they get from traditional cable providers.
Hulu’s product, still currently unnamed, will join an increasingly crowded field of over-the-top TV packages. Dish Network’s Sling TV offers basic live streaming packages starting at $20 per month that include networks like ESPN and FX, but only two broadcast channels (NBC and Fox). AT&T’s DirecTV Now, with over 120 channels, was introduced at $35 but is now $60. Sony’s PlayStation Vue packages start at $40 and work their way up to $75. And then there are all the single-serve streaming on-demand services: Netflix, HBO Now, Showtime, Amazon Prime Video.
Oh, and Facebook is getting into live TV as well. But you won’t be able to watch the upcoming season of Lifetime’s “UnREAL” there just yet.