Hulu’s Upcoming Livestreaming Service Will Be the First to Include CBS

The DirecTV Now competitor launches early this year

Hulu's upcoming livestreaming TV bundle won't launch for another couple of months, but it has already landed a key network that DirecTV Now and its other competitors lack: CBS.

Hulu and CBS Corp. have struck an agreement for CBS to be included in Hulu's upcoming livestreaming bundle, as well as CBS Sports Network and Pop. Hulu could add other networks in the future, including The CW.

All of the CBS networks in the deal will be available to stream live, and Hulu said "much" of its programming will be available on-demand, including The Big Bang Theory, NCIS, Big Brother, 60 Minutes and Blue Bloods.

The deal also includes CBS' sports programming, including all NFL games and the NCAA March Madness tournament. Showtime will be offered as a premium subscription service add-on, as it currently is for subscribers of Hulu's SVOD service.

Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins, who made the announcement at the Citi 2017 Internet, Media & Telecommunications Conference in Las Vegas, said that Hulu's streaming bundle will be priced under $40 and will include all content in Hulu's $7.99 SVOD subscription tier. The bundle will launch with cloud DVR capabilities, which is a feature that AT&T said it will add down the line to DirecTV Now.

"To build a successful live TV service, you have to have viewers' favorite sports and shows—and CBS' programming is absolutely vital to that mix," said Hopkins in a statement.

That's a clear shot at AT&T, which claimed in November that it didn't need CBS or the company's other networks for DirecTV Now to be successful. John Stankey, CEO of AT&T Entertainment Group told reporters that "the demographic may be a fit" for a CBS-less lineup—meaning that millennials don't watch CBS.

Leslie Moonves, CBS Corp. CEO, president and chairman, has frequently said that his company is negotiating with all the streaming services, but wanted to be paid fairly for its programming. CBS will bring in more than $3 per monthly subscriber initially for its channels, according to the Wall Street Journal, with increases in later years of the deal that could top $4.

"Hulu has made it clear that it understands the value that the CBS television network, along with Showtime and our basic cable network portfolio, will bring to this new offering," said Ray Hopkins, president of CBS Corp's television networks distribution, in a statement. "In addition, today's announcement represents another significant step in our strategy to deliver CBS' industry leading content to viewers whenever and wherever they want to watch it, at terms that are consistent with the company's goals."

Hulu hopes that CBS and its DVR feature will give it the edge in the race to attract millennials, cord-cutters and cord-nevers with streaming bundle services that don't require set-top boxes, satellite dishes, annual contracts or credit checks.

DirecTV Now beat Hulu out of the gate, though that service's buggy launch on Nov. 30 turned off some potential subscribers.

In addition to CBS, Hulu has already made deals with 21st Century Fox, Disney, and Time Warner, for a bundle lineup that will include ABC, CBS, Fox, ESPN, Fox Sports, TNT, TBS, FX, National Geographic, Freeform, Fox News, Fox Sports 1.

Notable holdouts include NBCUniversal, Discovery, Viacom, A+E Networks and AMC Networks, all of which are included on DirecTV Now.