For some cable cutters, Hulu with Live TV is the best of both worlds: access to Hulu’s massive library of award-winning licensed and original content, and over 50 live streaming channels including sports, news, and entertainment. The service has been highly rated, but Hulu with Live TV hasn’t yet attracted the massive numbers of subscribers needed to support the licensing costs for those top-tier channels. Now, less than two years after Hulu launched its new Hulu with Live TV package, Hulu CEO Randy Freer says the streaming service may now be looking to roll out new “skinny bundles” offering customers the ability to purchase smaller packages or even channels a la carte.
In an interview this week, Freer says that one of the major trends among programmers and distributors like Discovery or NBCU is to market select channels to streaming services rather than their complete lineups. According to Freer, this because consumers ultimately don’t want cable TV over an ethernet connection – they want smaller, more focused packages:
The bundles are broken, and their channels are losing carriage. Some of these brands won’t be strong enough […] You won’t need a live feed for all of them. [Hulu] wants to drop some live entertainment channels to be able to create smaller bundles of live sports, news, and on-demand entertainment in ways to appeal to more viewers and reduce costs.
For years, so-called “skinny” bundles have been the talk of the streaming world. Many consumers only watch a few channels or a certain type of content like news, for example, and don’t want even a few dozen channels. Still, the announcement is surprising given that Hulu Live just launched two years ago. Given that Hulu loses over $1.5 billion a year, though, maybe the talk of dropping channels in favor of skinny bundles is a sign that not all is well behind the scenes following the launch of Hulu with Live TV. Has Hulu overextended itself?