21st Century Fox is pushing a 24/7 live feed of its network to Hulu without including local affiliate stations.
According to the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.), the national feed of Fox is available on Hulu’s live TV service in up to 70 markets—including Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Birmingham, Alabama—where Fox has yet to reach streaming deals with its affiliates and station groups.
The live feed is only showing up on Hulu—which Fox owns in part—but it could soon be used on similar virtual MVPDs including AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Sony’s PlayStation Vue.
As the report pointed out, Fox is subbing in programming from its cable networks including National Geographic, Fox Business Network and Fox News, to fill in the blocks where local station content would normally air.
Fox is reportedly offering its local affiliates a smaller cut of the subscriber revenue generated by vMVPD deals than the deals ABC, CBS and NBC are offering their affiliates for similar agreements. Broadcast groups like Sinclair and Raycom have yet to reach streaming deals with Fox, but the report said that Nexstar is currently completing a deal with Fox.
Fox has opted to negotiate individual streaming deals with its affiliates rather than appeal to the boards of affiliates like ABC, CBS and NBC have.
ABC introduced Clearinghouse, a program intended to allow ABC to negotiate streaming deals for its affiliates. CBS reached an opt-in agreement for streaming services with the CBS Affiliates Board. NBC and the NBC Television Affiliates Board have a new deal that will allow local TV broadcasters to opt in to NBCUniversal’s carriage agreements with new OTT streaming services and for TVE distribution rights.
Chris Cornelius, chairman of the CBS Affiliates Board and vice president of business development for Morgan Murphy Media, said the CBS affiliates negotiated a per-subscriber base rate, one that will increase over the next three years depending on certain tiers of subscriber growth.
Though at this point the CBS affiliate agreement is a distribution revenue play, Cornelius said there are options in the future relating to the potential of monetizing local content through DAI (dynamic ad insertion) and programmatic advertising.
“We’re not there yet [but] the conversations have started,” said Cornelius, adding that more distribution will boost ratings measurements by Nielsen and ComScore, and more viewers will translate to higher ad rates.