Disney CEO Bob Iger is pumped for Hulu's upcoming streaming TV service in part because of the leverage it will help provide in negotiating carriage deals with pay-TV providers.
Speaking this week at the MoffettNathanson conference, Iger said Hulu's live TV service not only means more mouths for Disney/ABC's content to feed, but also said it will help keep other distributors more honest about what they pay for carriage of channels like ESPN as well as how other cable and satellite operators go about improving their user interfaces to keep pace with OTT services.
On the topic of UI, Iger had lofty praise for the new Hulu service, calling it "tremendous." Disney execs, being part owners of Hulu along with Fox and NBCUniversal, were given a sneak peek at the new service.
Iger's comments this week echo similar comments he made earlier this month during Disney's second-quarter earnings call, when he called Hulu not just a "distributor of the programs that we make, but ultimately as a buyer of original product and ultimately as a distributor of our channels."
He added that Hulu has a great opportunity of becoming an OTT MVPD because it can leverage its user base, which currently sits at 12 million subscribers.
"I don't want to speak for them fully, but what they're looking at is a best-of-cable approach, which … would put them between the big, expanded basic bundle category and some of the lightest packages that are available like some of what Sling has put out. We feel really good about the opportunity. We're also fully aligned with our partners at 21st Century Fox on the strategy," said Iger, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.
In addition to Fox and ABC signing on as content partners for Hulu's live service, NBCUniversal is also reportedly considering getting in on the action. That leaves CBS, which already offers a live direct-to-consumer streaming product, as the only big broadcast network not likely to be involved.
Hulu earlier this month confirmed its plans to build and launch its virtual pay-TV bundle. The company hasn't confirmed pricing of the service but reports peg the cost to land around the $40 range.
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