Hulu has made a decision to go head-to-head with YouTube and other streaming services that are now offering what can be described as "light" cable subscriptions.
Hulu is launching its new live streaming TV service in beta today, a $40-per-month, over-the-top video package that includes content from all of the major broadcast networks, numerous cable channels and Hulu's own slate of original programming.
"You shouldn't have to think about whether something is live, recorded or on demand, or care about which device you're using", Hulu SVP Ben Smith said in a statement about the new service.
So, what exactly does that $40-per-month fee get you?
The service will allow users to enjoy up to six individual profiles and two simultaneous streams, and will include local broadcast channels such as CBS, ABC, Fox, and NBC in "many cities".
Most of the company's owners don't break out their Hulu losses in quarterly reports, but they acknowledge that losses have continued. Or if you're a fan of recording your shows to watch later because certain programs aren't easily available on-demand, there will be an Enhanced Cloud DVR bundle for another $15 a month that will give subscribers access to 200 hours of DVR space that automatically skips through all the ads in the recording. For $8.99 a month you can get Showtime.
Hulu Live TV is entering into beta today, with no word on when, precisely, it will go into full release.
Hulu Live TV was first announced back during CES, where I had a chance to take a peek at the new software well before it was ready for primetime. In addition, the basic live TV service also offers 50 hours of video storage with its Cloud DVR feature. They include Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, DirecTV Now and the recently launched YouTube TV.
Included in this service is all of the premium content that existing users pay $7.99/month for already. With no set-up costs or installation, it features an easy-to-use, intuitive and personalized interface, that brings together live and on-demand news, entertainment and sports, all in one place, across hundreds of living room and mobile devices. This aspect of the service tracks what games are played on live TV available through Hulu and is separate from sports-specific subscription services like MLB.tv.
50 hours of recording storage to watch shows whenever you want. But there's no support at the moment for Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Sticks, and Samsung Smart TVs, which Hulu said "will be supported soon". It's now available on Android, iOS, Xbox One, and Chromecast.
Overall, Hulu's new live TV package is one of the most compelling out there. It's just another step in seeing more cable subscribers cutting the cord and getting the content they want to see without being charged an arm and a leg by companies like Comcast and Time Warner.