The Wall Street Journal reports that Hulu is looking to launch a cable-like online service—à la Sling TV—early next year (subscription required):
Hulu is developing a subscription service that would stream feeds of popular broadcast and cable TV channels, people familiar with the plans said, a move that would make the company a competitor to traditional pay-TV providers and other new digital entrants.
So live TV and a cloud-based DVR, rather than the on-demand day-after service the company currently offers. But the report also says this would be separate from Hulu’s current offerings, and would offer channels from Hulu’s backers, like ABC, the Disney Channel, ESPN, Fox, FX, and Fox News.
However, there’s a catch:
Hulu hasn’t set a price for its planned service but Sanford C. Bernstein media analyst Todd Juenger estimated that it would likely cost around $40 a month. An executive close to Hulu said that figure was in the ballpark.
For a subset of channels, $40/month is a lot to ask, especially when traditional cable bundles throw in a lot more for not much more. This would especially seem to compete poorly against the streaming services cable companies themselves are beginning to offer, such as the $15/month Stream TV service I’ve been using.
This is my biggest worry about moving TV online: we’re just going to end up recreating what we used to have, with a different middleman. So I guess it’s yet another case of “be careful what you wish for…”