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Shocker: Hulu’s cheap cable alternative is incredibly popular

Published May 31st, 2018 10:02PM EDT
Hulu Live TV vs DirecTV Now, Sling

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In the last year, cable streaming alternatives have become about as popular as you’d expect, given that they’re much cheaper and far more convenient than paying for a cable bundle. Sling TV and DirecTV Now are the two industry leaders, but competitive plans from Hulu’s Live TV and YouTube TV have been nipping at their heels.

According to an interview that Hulu CEO Randy Freer did with CNBC, Hulu Live TV is now up to 800,000 paid subscribers, having only been on the market for a year. The number might seem small compared to the 70-some million households that have a cable subscription, but it’s dangerously close to DirecTV Now, which has a little over a million subscribers.

Hulu With Live TV is a compelling option for cord-cutters: Not only do they get access to a very similar live TV bundle as they’d get from Sling or DirecTV Now, but they also get access to Hulu’s on-demand streaming library, which has original shows like The Handmaid’s Tale, as well as a formidable back catalogue of TV. Hulu’s device support and app library is also impressive, given how long the service has been around.

According to Freer, subscribers to Hulu With Live TV are watching an average of 108 hours per month of content. The national average is 116 hours per month, so it sounds like Hulu subscribers are watching virtually all of their shows, live or on-demand, on the service. Most other streaming TV subscribers will still have a subscription to something like Netflix, so Hulu’s play to capture the live and the on-demand content is powerful.

It could also prove to be a real problem for the pay TV companies down the line. AT&T, which owns satellite provider DirecTV (and DirecTV Now), is relying on the streaming service to make up for the subscribers it’s losing to cord-cutting. Sling is owned by Dish, a satellite company that’s watching millions of subscribers abandon ship, with Sling the only silver lining. If Hulu’s live TV service keeps growing this way, it could make an already-bad situation even worse for the satellite TV companies.

Chris Mills
Chris Mills News Editor

Chris Mills has been a news editor and writer for over 15 years, starting at Future Publishing, Gawker Media, and then BGR. He studied at McGill University in Quebec, Canada.