No Hulu for Viacom’s Networks

Video-on-demand rights one issue in failed talks
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Viacom’s networks will not be included in Hulu’s upcoming live TV streaming service, Hulu confirmed.

Hulu on Friday announced that A+E’s Networks would be a part of the package, expected to be launched this spring.

A+E is 50% owned by the Walt Disney Co., one of Hulu’s owners. Disney has a deal with Hulu to stream its networks as do two of Hulu’s other owners, 21st Century Fox and Time Warner.

Related: Viacom's Bakish Eyes Partnerships to Boost Non-Core Networks

Hulu is still negotiating with its other owner, Comcast's NBCUniversal.

There were a couple of explanations for why Hulu’s talks with Viacom were unsuccessfully completed.

Sources close to Hulu said that while Bob Bakish, the new CEO at struggling Viacom, has spoken out about a strategy that focuses on six flagship networks, Viacom wanted more of its networks included in the package, which would make it difficult for Hulu to keep the price tag of the service below $40 a month.

Related: Hulu Flies 'Black Sails' Flag

Bakish has also been looking to limit the amount of Viacom programming available to SVOD streamers like Netflix and Hulu, and other sources indicated that Hulu wanted on-demand rights in addition to being able to live stream the networks.

“We currently have distribution with the largest virtual MVPDs, and are engaged in ongoing conversations with a spectrum of new, emerging digital distributors as we execute against our recently announced strategy,” Viacom said in a statement.

Bakish has also said he expects consumers to be offered a bundle that includes entertainment channels but not expensive news or sports programming for about $20 a month. He expects Viacom to be a key component of those products.

With cord-cutting cutting into the subscriber counts on traditional pay-TV distributors, programmers have been aggressively trying to get their networks represented in the skinnier bundles of channels being offered by the new generation of virtual MVPDs springing up, including Hulu, YouTube TV, DirecTV Now and Sling.

It is not unusual for one of the distributors to say a network group won’t be carried, as Bloomberg first reported, especially before launch.

In other Viacom news, Ross Martin, head of company’s marketing council, will be leaving.

According to the New York Post, he had asked Bakish to make him chief marketing officer.

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