In the early days of streaming video services, it was easy to differentiate yourself. There were basically 2 services: Netflix offered movies, Hulu offered television. Today that's not exactly how it works. Hulu has exclusive access to the Criterion Collection, while Netflix gets episodes of CW shows a week after the season ends.
The next step for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and the like was to create original programming. Programs like Orange Is The New Black for Netflix and 11.22.63 for Hulu have done them well. But a new breed of streaming services have arrived. HBO Now and Sling give live access to television stations without a cable subscription. How are services like Netflix and Hulu supposed to keep up?
Hulu recently announced that they were working on a live streaming service of their own. Fortunately for them, their three owners are three of the largest content producers in the world: Comcast, which owns NBC Universal; Disney, which owns ABC and ESPN; and News Corp., which owns Fox. That certainly gives them a leg up in network negotiations. The company also has an existing relationship with Showtime, which could give the new service access to that network as well. What it leaves is a hole in basic cable content.
This week, a fourth owner has joined with a minority stake in Hulu: Time Warner. This is a big deal for Hulu's live streaming ambitions. Time Warner owns Turner Broadcasting, which owns stations like TBS. With TBS come names like Conan O'Brien and Samantha Bee, both big draws to the network.
Unfortunately for Hulu there is still one looming content hole: CBS. CBS has its own live streaming platform on which the new Star Trek series will be an exclusive. If Hulu could somehow pull off a relationship like they have with Showtime, essentially bringing the new Star Trek series to their platform, their streaming ambitions will be a slam dunk.
We have yet to hear a launch date or a price for this new service, but it's clear that most of the big players are interested in being involved.