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.
Until now, Hulu has offered on-demand programming from major networks, similar to Netflix Inc. 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.
21st Century Fox and News Corp, owner of The Wall Street Journal, were until mid-2013 part of the same company.
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. 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.