CBS(CBS) - Get Report will join Hulu's new multichannel live-TV streaming service, Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins said in Las Vegas on Wednesday, heralding what appears to be increased participation in new digital pay-TV platforms.
"If you're going to have the best content, you have to have CBS," Hopkins said at the Citi Internet, Media & Telecommunications Conference.
Comcast(CMCSA) - Get Report , owner of NBC, has yet to strike a licensing deal with Hulu for its new streaming service, despite being a co-owner along with Disney(DIS) - Get Report and 21st Century Fox(FOXA) - Get Report , which have done so, Hopkins said. Fox's regional sports networks will be included in the platform, expected to launch in the "new few months," he added.
As part of the deal, Hulu may also carry the CBS Sports Network and Pop, an offer add-on subscriptions to Showtime.
Unlike its broadcast rivals, CBS has proved to be more selective about which of the new streaming services it joins. While the country's most-watched network is a part of Sony's (SNE) - Get Report PlayStation Vue, it has yet to be included on Dish Network's (DISH) - Get Report Sling TV or AT&T's (T) - Get Report recently launched DirecTV Now.
Mindful of controlling its content, CBS isn't a part of Hulu's basic service, preferring to place the current seasons of its shows on CBS All-Access, its own $5.99 per month standalone streaming service. In that way CBS has been unique among the broadcast networks.
CBS CEO Leslie Moonves did say last month that the company was in talks with AT&T about joining DirecTV Now. Also still unofficial is a CBS deal with Alphabet's (GOOGL) - Get Report Google Unplugged, originally set to launch at this week's Consumer Electronics Show, also in Las Vegas.
Securing CBS, best known for its NFL games and popular shows such as The Big Bang Theory, could allow Hulu to differentiate itself from competing services. Additionally, Hopkins said the new Hulu service, unlike DirecTV Now, would provide a DVR-type function, allowing viewers to record shows to play them later. (PlayStation Vue has a cloud DVR feature, and Sling TV's DVR feature has begun a beta trial.)
Of particular importance to viewers, especially those looking for lower pricing than traditional cable TV bundles, is that Hulu's new multichannel service will be priced "below $40," Hopkins said. Google Unplugged reportedly may carry a similar price point.
Unlike its rivals' announced services, Hopkins said Hulu can undercharge competitors because it also operates an $8 per month on-demand service featuring the past seasons of current shows including hits such as AMC Networks' (AMCX) - Get ReportThe Walking Dead. Subscribers to the new service also will receive access to Hulu's current on-demand product.
By comparison, DirecTV Now recently said it would raise the price of its 100-channel offer to $60 per month from $35 month. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson highlighted the lower-priced promotional offer when the service was launched in November, prompting the company to acknowledge that it would only be available for a short period.
Subscribers to DirecTV Now's $35 offer, which ends Sunday, will lock that price into the life of their contract.
CBS is slated to receive more than $3 per subscriber to Hulu's multichannel streaming network, with the potential to receive $4 per subscriber as additional CBS channels are added. At present, CBS receives between $2.50 and $3 per subscriber from traditional cable TV providers for a package of its channels, a source close to the service said.
TheStreet previously reported CBS is set to receive about $4 per month for subscribers under the Google deal, citing a person with knowledge of the deal.
For Hulu, the launch of the service, which Hopkins said is slated for sometime in the "next few months," is a long time coming. As Sling TV and DirecTV Now have come to market, observers have wondered whether a rollout of its multichannel streaming service was slowed by having to balance the demands of Hulu's many strong-willed owners.
Time Warner (TWX) took a 10% stake in Hulu in August but doesn't have a seat on its board of directors.