Premiere week of "Larry King Now" will feature Seth MacFarlane, Meghan McCain and Matthew McConaughey
Break out the suspenders, because legendary cable news talk show host Larry King is diving into the world of video streaming with a deal with Hulu that kicks off Tuesday.
Ora TV, the new digital TV network King launched this year with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helú, announced Monday that is has entered a multi-year, exclusive licensing and distribution agreement granting Hulu the rights to stream “Larry King Now."
Like "Larry King Live," the program the bespectacled host oversaw for 25 years on CNN, the new show will see King host leaders from the entertainment and political spheres.
The show premieres this week and will feature "Family Guy" and "Ted" impresario Seth MacFarlane, political offspring and commentator Meghan McCain and "Magic Mike" star Matthew McConaughey.
King's program will be available every Monday through Thursday in the early evenings on Hulu, Hulu Plus and Ora.TV. Each episode will be 30 minutes in length.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Ora TV CEO Jon Housman said that Hulu will pay to license the program and the companies will share advertising revenue.
"We're really approaching this as a partnership," Housman said. "From the first time we talked with Hulu, it was really just a meeting of the minds and we're really interested in doing things with programming that haven't been done before."
For Hulu, which has made a push into original content recently with programs like the political comedy "Battleground" and the Kevin Smith film talk show "Spoilers," the King program allows it to experiment with a new distribution model, geared not at television networks, but at digital studios.
"There are more of these new style networks that need to find a platform and a distribution network," Andy Forssell, Hulu's senior vice president of content, said. "They're half studio. Half network. But we handle the monetization. We're great at ad sales, so they don't have to worry about that."
But will King, no spring chicken at 78, translate to an internet audience used to consuming video in bite sized chunks?
After all, even Forssell admits that the talk show host, best known for his relaxed, sometimes meandering approach to interviews, isn't likely to produce the kind of tense confrontations with heads of state and starlets that helps videos go viral. Yet, he thinks that King's brand name and Rolodex will keep viewers clicking back.
"This is not really an attempt to broaden our audience, it's about getting the opportunity to work with an icon," Forssell said. "He makes guests comfortable. He gets to hard hitting subjects in his interviews, but he does it less in a way that's going to go viral than one that's going to produce interesting TV."
It also helps, Forssell said, that with his decades in the business, King can attract top talent from Hollywood and the Beltway to his table that other internet based talk shows would not be able to book.
For his part, Housman says that King is no digital novice, pointing to his over 2 million Twitter followers.
"What I like best is that this show is that it's highlighting Larry and the things he loves to do and is so good at doing, but at the same time experimenting in a way that will appeal to both more traditional audience, as well as the millions who follow him on social media," Housman said.
The program will also draw more on the world of the web in its presentation. Though the program will not be aired live, making it difficult for King to field call-in queries from viewers as he did on his CNN program, the host integrated suggested questions from Twitter into his upcoming interview with Meghan McCain.
Plus, Housman thinks that Hulu's brand and audience is ripe for consuming content in a way that might not work on, say, YouTube.
"Hulu is a great partner for us," Housman said. "It's such a powerhouse destination for quality content with an audience that likes to watch this kind of content as opposed to just snack on it."