Hulu “silent” owner NBCUniversal is in talks with the streaming service about including some of its live channels in a virtual TV subscription bundle, a source familiar with the matter told TheWrap.
Hulu was already working with networks at its other parent companies — Disney and 21st Century Fox — on such a subscription service, which would add feeds of live broadcast and cable TV channels to its current Netflix-like catalog of video-on-demand shows and movies, the Wall Street Journal reported late Sunday.
TheWrap’s source said NBCU was only recently approached by Hulu over the package.
Hulu didn’t immediately respond to TheWrap’s message seeking comment.
Such a service would morph Hulu into more of a true digital TV competitor to traditional programming, along the same lines as “skinny bundle” services like Dish’s Sling TV and Playstation’s Vue.
Hulu is owned by Comcast’s NBCUniversal, 21st Century Fox and Disney, but Comcast’s NBCU is a silent participant in the venture. In order for Comcast’s takeover of NBCU to secure regulatory approval, the company agreed to what’s known as a consent decree. Because Comcast, the country’s biggest cable provider, could be motivated to hinder Hulu competitively in order to shore up its main pay-TV business, the bargain with the government meant Comcast had to give up voting rights and board representation at the company, and also provide programming on the same terms as the other owners.
Even with Comcast sitting on the sidelines of its decision-making, Hulu has frequently had to balance its owners’ interests in protecting their content’s traditional distribution with Hulu’s need to stay competitive with other digital rivals.