Over-the-top (OTT) streaming service Hulu officially introduced Wednesday the beta launch of Hulu With Live TV, its skinny TV service with monthly pricing packages starting at $39.99 for 50 channels.

The service–which joins a growing field of slimmed-down live OTT streaming providers including: Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, Direc TV Now and YouTube TV–will include major over-the-air (OTA) broadcast network programming from ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC offering local TV stations corresponding to the viewer’s market (where available), and a selection of cable TV networks including ESPN, CNN, Fox News, TBS, TNT and Disney Channel.

Showtime will be offered as a premium channel add-on for $9 extra.

However, the local broadcast network stations only will be available in Chicago, L.A., New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco to start. Hulu said it is working with station groups to add local channels in additional markets going forward.

Read more on the Hulu With Live TV beta launch after the jump:

Those networks and channels that are included in the beta launch package include: the major OTA broadcast networks in the markets previously mentioned, ESPN, CNN, CNBC, Fox News, Fox Business, Fox Sports, MSNBC, CBS Sports, NBC Sports, TNT, Bravo, E!, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, A&E, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, Disney Channel, Freeform, FX, History, Lifetime, National Geographic, TBS, USA Network, and Viceland. Regional sports networks from Comcast and Fox will also be available in several markets.

Meanwhile, Hulu Live TV also is still without a number of popular cable networks and channels including: HBO, AMC Networks, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, MTV, Starz, and Discovery Communications channels. The company said it is working on deals with programmers and expects to add other basic and premium networks soon.

Hulu also announced a new agreement with Scripps Networks Interactive to add channels and programming including: HGTV, Travel Channel and Food Network to both Hulu’s new live service and current premium app. Full seasons of Scripps Networks series will be offered in the video-on-demand (VOD) service.

Hulu also revealed that it will become the exclusive subscription OTT carrier for NBC’s “This Is Us,” primetime series and has exclusive Subscription VOD (SVOD) rights to FX’ comedy series “Atlanta.”

Hulu in jointly owned by many of the leading content producers including: 21st Century Fox, Disney, NBCUniversal and Time Warner.

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The launch of Hulu Live TV is an attempt for the some of the very content producers escalating prices to multichannel service providers to cut out the middle man and go directly to the consumer by offering so-called “skinny bundles” with lower monthly fees, and no-long term service commitments to pricy programming tiers.

The app for Hulu Live TV is currently available on Xbox One, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS and Android devices. Additional devices including: Roku, Amazon Fire TV/Fire TV Stick, and Samsung Smart TVs are expected to be added soon.

Hulu is attempting lure viewers to its service with flashy on-screen graphics and an easy to navigate user interface with better personalization features.

The Live TV service can also be supplemented with Hulu’s existing premium on-demand streaming library running $7.99 extra per month including commercials, or $11.99 for an ad-free option.

Subscribers to the Hulu With Live TV service have the ability to create up to six personal profiles on one account, with each user profile getting the ability to select favorite TV shows, news channels and movies. The service is designed to learn each user’s programming preferences over time to make show recommendations based on the type of content, favorite actors and the time of day a particular type of show is viewed.

Sports fans will have the ability to follow favorite pro and college teams, which Hulu will find and record when available.

Further, a “Kids Mode” utilizes parental controls to ensure the particular viewer profile doesn’t have access to inappropriate content.

The $40 monthly Hulu With Live TV package includes 50 hours of DVR recording storage, with up to six individual profiles and two simultaneous streams per account.

The base package does not permit skipping ad breaks in the DVR recordings.

Customers who want to skip ads can step up to Hulu’s Enhanced Cloud DVR option for an extra $14.99 per month, which comes with up to 200 hours of recording storage and more powerful cloud DVR capabilities, including the ability to record an unlimited number of shows at the same time.

An Unlimited Screens option (for another extra $14.99 per month) provides as many simultaneous streams as the account’s broadband connection can sustain, plus three concurrent streams outside the home. Hulu also offers both the Enhanced Cloud DVR and the Unlimited Screens add-ons together for a reduced $20 per month extra.


By Greg Tarr


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