Hulu, the online video service owned by a trio of large media companies, plans to offer a live TV package featuring a mix of channels from its owners and their peers, according to insiders.
Hulu is talking with 21st Century Fox and Walt Disney, two of its owners, about gaining rights to channels such as Fox and ESPN, said the people, who asked not to be identified. Hulu hasn't progressed as far with Comcast, its third owner and the largest cable operator in the United States, the people said.
Created as a vehicle for its owners to offer films and TV shows on-demand via the Internet, Hulu is the latest company to jump into the so-called skinny bundle business. Media companies and pay-TV distributors are beginning to offer smaller packages of live channels as an alternative to costly cable and satellite service and to draw new viewers to their channels. Dish Network and Sony already sell their own versions.
Hulu plans to differentiate itself from those services with its reservoir of on-demand programming, one of the people said, as well as a user interface that would offer viewers a more personalized experience. The service said last year it had 9 million subscribers.
Without content deals in place, Hulu hasn't decided when this service will debut or what it will cost. The company is seeking to start as early as next year and will probably charge around $40 a month.
Hulu has increased its spending on its own shows in recent years to bring in new users, much like Netflix.
Disney's ABC network didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.