About six months after launch, Hulu’s virtual pay TV service, Hulu Live, has assumed a commanding lead in the arms race to reach the most local stations.
Hulu announced earlier this week that it added 23 more ABC affiliates and nine additional NBC stations. According to the website Cord Cutters News, which has been closely keeping tabs on local deals announced by virtual MVPDs, Hulu Live has more than 440 local CBS, ABC, Fox, My Network TV and Telemundo stations signed up for broadcast retransmission licensing deals.
With 10 small- and mid-market ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC affiliates signed up this week as well, DirecTV Now is a distant second in the vMPVD locals race, neck and neck with Sony PlayStation Vue and YouTube TV, Cord Cutter News says.
For its part, sports-focused vMVPD fuboTV announced the addition of four NBC affiliates this week, bringing its total local station count to 105.
With most vMPVDs pricing their base skinny bundles in the $35 to $40 a month range, access to local stations has become the most important product differentiator.
Sling TV, which launched nearly three years ago, is the category leader in terms of customers, with an estimated 2 million. The Dish Network-owned platform has been conspicuously unaggressive in terms of signing up affiliates, keeping its base price at an industry-low $20 a month.
However, newer competition is catching up. AT&T announced this week, for example, that DirecTV Now has reached the 1 million customer mark just one year after launch.