NBCU Agrees to Stream Networks on Hulu Live Service

Comcast's NBCUniversal, one of Hulu's owners, has belatedly signed an agreement that will put NBCU networks on Hulu's about-to-launch live TV streaming service.

Hulu's other owners—21st Century Fox, the Walt Disney Co. and Time Warner's Turner—signed agreements before the new service was announced in January. CBS also signed on in January. Now, with NBCU in the fold, Hulu will have all four major broadcasters available for subscribers.

In addition to the NBC broadcast network, NBCU networks on the new live service will include Telemundo, USA, Syfy, Bravo, E!, MSNBC, CNBC and NBCSN.

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The agreement also includes what the companies called a "framework' for licensing NBC and Telemundo affiliates for carriage on the live Hulu service.

The streaming skinny bundle will include more than 50 channels at launch, Hulu says.

Additional details about the live Hulu service are expected to be unveiled during Hulu's NewFront presentation Wednesday evening.

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The new live service will compete with a number of virtual MVPDs (multichannel video programming distributors) including YouTube TV, which is live in some large markets, DirecTV Now, Sony's PlayStation Vue, Dish Network's Sling and a number of other smaller players with more limited offerings.

"NBCUniversal is home to many of today's leading sports, news, entertainment and lifestyle networks—brands that not only draw large audiences but also drive pop culture," said Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins. "With this agreement in place, Hulu will soon provide an affordable, complete live TV package that includes all four major broadcast networks, the top-rated cable news channels, a massive sports offering and our deep existing premium streaming library for under $40."

Hulu will be selling the two minutes per hour of local time that traditional distributors get in deals with programmers.

NBCUniversal owned a stake in Hulu when it was acquired by Comcast. In order to clear regulatory hurdles, Comcast agreed to take a hand-off approach to Hulu, letting Fox and Disney, and later Time Warner, make management decisions for the company.

Comcast has integrated Hulu's streaming competitors Netflix into the X1 operating system on its cable systems but has not integrated Hulu.

Comcast will be able to sell its Hulu stake at the end of the year.

"We're pleased to partner with Hulu to make NBCUniversal's leading portfolio of entertainment, news and sports networks available on this new service," stated Matt Bond, chairman NBCUniversal Content Distribution. "Growing our audiences is an important priority and this partnership will help bring our networks to new customers."

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.