Hulu and A+E say today that A&E, History, Lifetime, LMN, FYITM, and Viceland will be part of the core package of live and on-demand services Hulu will begin to offer in the spring.
But Viacom might be left out, Bloomberg reports. Shares in the entertainment company, looking to revive its fortunes after years of declining ratings, are down 1.7%
“We currently have distribution with the largest virtual MVPDs, and are engaged in ongoing conversations with a spectrum of new, emerging digital distributors as we execute against our recently announced strategy,” a spokesman says.
Hulu is owned by, and will include channels from, Fox, Disney and Time Warner’s Turner Networks. It also has a deal to offer CBS at launch. It’s still talking to Comcast — another co-owner — about its NBCUniversal networks.
Disney and Hearst co-own A+E.
Hulu is “pulling together the most valuable, well-rounded package of channels available for under $40,” CEO Mike Hopkins says. “We know the A+E Networks brand of award-winning storytelling is important to our viewers, and we’re very excited to add their networks to the core service we launch this Spring.”
A+E CEO Nancy Dubuc says the deal with Hulu’s core package “speaks to the power of our entertainment portfolio in reaching men, women, adults and millennials.”
All eyes are on Hulu’s service because — unlike rivals including AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Dish Network’s Sling TV — it is being provided directly by programmers. Execs showed off its slick user interface early this year at the CES consumer electronics show.
It would be a blow to Viacom if it doesn’t make the cut. CEO Bob Bakish is focusing the company around six core brands — Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., BET, Comedy Central, MTV and Paramount (with Spike rebranded as The Paramount Network) — to help Viacom as distributors offer so-called skinny bundles.
But the CEO is reluctant to give up subscription VOD rights to many of Viacom’s shows, which Hulu wants to include. Bakish told an investor gathering this week that he took Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah off of Hulu, in part to reassure Viacom’s cable and satellite distributors who had been upset that “we were putting a lot of product on SVOD.”