Hulu’s CEO on Its New Livestreaming Bundle and Getting The Golden Girls

Plus, why he can't save every canceled show

Between rescuing The Mindy Project, launching an ad-free tier and crafting a solid lineup of original series, Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins has steadily been transforming the streaming service since he arrived in 2013. But 2017 looks to be Hulu's biggest year yet.

Hulu will join the battle for cord cutters and cord-nevers with its own streaming bundle, which will launch "in the next few months," Hopkins said. The competitor to AT&T's DirecTV Now  will be priced under $40 and will include all content that Hulu's current SVOD (subscription video on demand) customers receive in the $7.99 subscription tier.

That launch will  include a complete overhaul of Hulu's user interface, which will usher in several new features for all subscribers. And the service is beefing up its content both on the original side—where The Handmaid's Tale, starring Elisabeth Moss and based on Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel, is already looking like the critically acclaimed breakthrough Hulu has been waiting for—as well as the acquisitions side, where it picked up The Golden Girls, which debuts in February.

Hopkins spoke with Adweek about what to expect from Hulu's new livestreaming service, what he's learned from the ad-tree tier and what it takes for him to consider picking up a canceled show.

Adweek: Why was it so important for you to get CBS onto your upcoming livestreaming bundle, which is a network your competitors don't have?

Mike Hopkins: CBS has the No. 1 network [in ages] 18-54, and they have a lot of really great programming. We're going to make this a sports-centric offering, and if you're going to make that part of your package, you have to have NFL, you have to have the complete March Madness package and all of the other great sports that they have. We thought it would be important to have the big four broadcasters, and CBS certainly rounds that package out for us.

You've also struck deals with Fox, Disney and Time Warner for the new service but haven't announced agreements yet with several other big media companies, including NBCUniversal, Discovery and A+E Networks. Can we assume there will be more news on that front before the launch?

Yes, that's our expectation as well.

You'll also be launching with a cloud DVR, which is a feature that DirecTV Now says it will add at some point in the future.

I think if you're going to have a service that really seeks to be a complete offering for consumers, many of which are used to a DVR, you have to make that part of the offering. We've been working awfully hard this year to get it right and to make it integrated seamlessly into a live and on-demand service. It's really exciting, and I think it's going to work really well. It's going to be fully functional, just like you could expect from a regular DVR.

One of the big criticisms about the DirecTV Now launch was that it was buggy and rushed. You had also considered launching your own service early. What prompted you to hold back a few months until you had more of the pieces in place?

For us, it's even more important than just launching the new service, because one of the advantages that we have is that we've got millions of subscribers already using our platform. And this new user interface will be for both our existing SVOD customers and the new live ones. It's one thing to launch a service with zero subscribers and then offer them a new interface. But we're going to ask our existing subs who like our current interface to try this new one, so we really have to bake it and make sure that it's great. That's one of the reasons that we took a little more time.

You're going to offer different user profiles as part of the new service. Will that feature also be made available to Hulu's SVOD subscribers?