Hulu Floats Idea of Skinny Bundle Minus Linear TV Networks

According to Hulu chief executive Randy Freer, the company is considering a skinnier bundle aimed at pay-TV cord shavers watching their wallets. The bundle would not include linear TV networks, which have pricey carriage fees, but would continue to offer sports, news and on-demand content licensed from cable networks. Hulu is in talks with programmers about the possibility of such a bundle. Few additional details are available, but that the price would be less than the current $40 per month plan.

Variety reports that Hulu is not offering any information on when the skinny bundle would be launched or what networks would be excluded. Last month, Hulu inked a deal with Discovery for almost 4,000 non-fiction episodes and live carriage of five Discovery networks to be added in December to its Hulu with Live TV bundle, “a possible prelude to [its] move to extra-skinny live TV.”

Variety offers a prediction of what might be covered in a skinnier bundle: “local ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC TV stations, along with CNN, CNBC, ESPN/ESPN2, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, Fox Sports, HLN, Cheddar and Turner’s TBS and TNT (which include a fair amount of live sports)” as well as potentially “CBS Sports Network, NBCSN, Golf Channel and Big Ten Network, or regional sports networks.”

It further predicts what might not make the cut in a skinny bundle, including “channels like A&E, Adult Swim, Boomerang, Bravo, Cartoon Network, Discovery, Disney Channel, E!, Food Network, Freeform, FX, FYI, HGTV, History, National Geographic, Nat Geo Wild, Oxygen, Sprout, Syfy, TCM, TLC and Viceland.” Variety also notes that, in the regular $40 per month bundle, Hulu does not include “networks from AMC Networks and Viacom.”

The company reported that it surpassed one million subscribers for its live-TV bundle, which it launched in May 2017 and which includes access to its VOD library. The future of its ownership is up in the air, as Disney “will obtain 21st Century Fox’s 30 percent stake in the joint venture, under the two companies’ broader pact, giving the Mouse House 60 percent ownership.” The other owners are Comcast NBCUniversal with 30 percent and AT&T’s WarnerMedia with 10 percent, but some have “speculated that Comcast could try to sell its stake to Disney and potentially pull back rights to NBCU programming for a Comcast-built streaming service.”