Hulu Launches Its Live TV Streaming Service Today and Renews The Handmaid’s Tale

Offering 50 channels, DVR and a Hulu subscription for $40 per month

Hulu's new user interface will seamlessly combine its live TV and on-demand programming options.
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Hulu’s long-awaited live TV streaming service is finally, well, live, as the company launches its beta version today, offering access to live and on demand programming on more than 50 channels, along with a Hulu subscription, for $39.99 per month.

The launch was one of several big announcements that Hulu made during its NewFronts event this morning at New York’s Theater at Madison Square Garden, as the decade-old streaming service celebrated its most ambitious year yet.

In other major news, Hulu has officially picked up its new critically-acclaimed drama The Handmaid’s Tale—starring Adweek’s cover subject Elisabeth Moss—for Season 2, which will debut in 2018.

“This is really special,” Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins told Adweek of the series, which premiered one week ago. “We’ve been on a path of making really good shows over the last year, and this one feels like it has a real chance to break through in a way that we’ve been trying to but haven’t quite done so yet. If that happens, it will be a really good thing for us as a company and a brand.”

The company, which is doubling its original series output in the next year, added to its tally with two new series pickups today. Netflix will no longer be the only streaming service with an original Marvel series: Hulu has picked up Marvel’s Runaways to series. The drama, about six teenagers with superpowers who band together to fight their evil parents, is from The O.C.’s Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage.

The service has also given a straight-to-series order for The First, a drama from House of Cards creator Beau Willimon about the first human mission to Mars. That show will also air on Hulu next year.

Hulu, which picked up exclusive SVOD rights to The Golden Girls earlier this year (“We knew it was going to be big, but it’s exceeded our expectations,” Hopkins told Adweek), landed another big acquisition: SVOD rights to Donald Glover’s Golden-Globe winning FX comedy, Atlanta. Season 1 will stream on Hulu ahead of the Season 2 debut on FX next year. Hulu also announced during its event that it has also acquired SVOD rights to This Is Us. The deal was completed “minutes ago,” said Craig Erwich, svp and head of content.

In a new deal with Scripps Networks Interactive, channels like HGTV and Food Network will appear on Hulu’s live TV service, while regular Hulu subscribers will have access to full seasons of select Scripps series.

Until last year, Hulu reported its number of subscriptions (last year’s figure was 12 million), but going forward, the company will now be sharing its total number of unique viewers, which is 47 million, according to comScore. Hulu said 32 million of those users, or 68 percent, opt for ad-supported content.

Going Live

But the morning’s biggest news involved details about today’s launch of Hulu’s live TV beta service. For $39.99 each month, subscribers get access to ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox—Hulu said local live broadcast affiliate programming will be available in “many markets, with more to follow”—as well as cable networks like A&E, Bravo, CNN, Disney Channel, E!, ESPN, Food Network, Fox News, Fox Sports, Freeform, FX, HGTV, History, Lifetime, MSNBC, National Geographic, TBS, TNT, USA and Viceland. Regional sports networks are also available in many markets, and all live TV subscribers receive access to Hulu’s library of content.

That monthly fee includes 50 hours of recording storage, up to six individual profiles and two simultaneous streams per account.

Add-ons include enhanced cloud DVR, for $14.99 per month, offering up to 200 hours of recording storage. That will record new episodes of any show or game that users have selected as a favorite, and give them the option to fast-forward through recorded ads.

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