At CES, Hulu's Live Service Comes Into Focus

Hulu showed off its version of the future of TV last week at CES in Las Vegas. The streaming service announced a deal to carry the CBS broadcast network, CBS Sports Network and the CBS-Lionsgate cable joint venture Pop when Hulu’s live TV service launches. (The launch date, sometime in the coming months, still has not been divulged.) Hulu previously announced deals to carry live networks from its owners, 21st Century Fox, Walt Disney Co. and Time Warner.

Hulu has no deal with its other owner, Comcast’s NBCUniversal.

The new Hulu service will have a cloud DVR capability, a personalized user experience and be priced under $40. It looks to compete in the suddenly crowded virtual MVPD space against Dish’s Sling, Sony’s PlayStation VUE and an upcoming YouTube service.

Analyst Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research says adding the live service is “an important path to top-line growth and strategic value generation for Hulu.”

Wieser says Hulu gives its owners some strategic advantages, including insights into new forms of video consumption. The live service could provide negotiating leverage against both legacy and upstart distributors as well.

The growth of streaming makes the need to update measurement techniques more essential. Failing to count Hulu viewers is one of the complaints NBCU and others have had about the Total Content Ratings that Nielsen plans to release in March, before the upfront.

Last week, because of concerns among network owners, Nielsen said it would restrict the Total Content Ratings data it would make available this month to media agencies. Nielsen will meet at the end of the month to review the timetable for making content data available during 2017.