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Cablevision Launches Hulu as Cable TV Channel

Cablevision Systems is now delivering Hulu to cable TV customers through their set-top boxes — the first time the Internet-video service is available directly through a pay-TV platform as a dedicated channel.

The New York-area cable operator has integrated Hulu into Optimum TV, letting subscribers access the streaming TV service directly from the interactive program guide on all current-generation set top boxes. The move means Hulu is now on virtually the same footing for Cablevision customers as premium cable networks like HBO, Showtime and Starz. However, Hulu content is available only on-demand, not as a linear feed.

Netflix, meanwhile, has been available for several years on pay-TV services, including the U.K.’s Virgin Media and on several smaller U.S. cable operators, through an integration with TiVo’s set-tops.

The Hulu service, priced starting at $7.99 per month, can be accessed through Cablevision’s Optimum channel 605. Customers who already have a Hulu subscription can sign into their Hulu account, while those without a Hulu account can access a free trial offer and then subscribe on TV or by logging in to optimum.net.

“As Hulu’s first cable distribution partner, Optimum is pleased to also be the first provider to offer the unique ability to access Hulu directly from the program guide,” said Tom Montemagno, Cablevision’s exec VP of programming.

Last year Cablevision became the first pay-TV to agree to distribute Hulu’s on-demand content to Optimum customers, although initially that was only online. “We are thrilled that Optimum customers can now access Hulu’s content library without having to leave their cable TV environment,” said Tim Connolly, Hulu’s senior VP of distribution and strategic partnerships.

The Hulu channel is currently available in select Cablevision service areas and will roll out across the remaining footprint in the coming weeks. The launch of Hulu on Optimum TV is powered by ActiveVideo’s CloudTV StreamCast, which delivers online video content to set-top boxes.

Hulu reached a deal last May with Suddenlink Communications, a midsize operator now owned by French telecom conglomerate Altice Group, to provide the streaming service on cable customers’ TiVo boxes. Suddenlink hasn’t activated the feature yet but it’s still in the works.

Cablevision is in the midst of being acquired by Altice in a $17.7 billion deal, which is pending regulatory approval. As of the end of 2015, Cablevision had 2.59 million video subscribers, down 3.2% from a year prior.

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