Here's a combination for the ages: talk host icon Larry King, world's richest man Carlos Slim, and online video purveyor Hulu. Add them all up and you come up with King's return to the small screen—and if we're talking smartphones and tablets we might as way say the very small screen—as an integral part of a new digital network Ora TV which will be part of Hulu's digital TV lineup.
Here's the breakdown. King will host "Larry King Live," an advertising-supported, 30-minute celebrity gabfest on Ora TV, which has the financial backing of Mexican media mogul Slim. The show, which King will tape four times each week, will then be available on Hulu and its subscription service Hulu Plus.
Ora TV CEO Jon Housman said that the show, which will not be aired live, will have more of a "late night edge" than King's previous work on CNN, the entertainment publication Variety reported.
"One of the things we looked at was how to update and refresh the program in a way for targeting a different audience," Housman said in the Variety story. "The Hulu audience is not exactly the same audience as cable TV. You'll see a lot of elements familiar to Larry but also fun segments (and Larry's not familiar with fun?) and even conversation that might be different in a more traditional show."
Larry King Now's opening week, incidentally, included interviews with Seth MacFarlane, Meghan McCain and Matthew McConaughy. No word on whether McDonald's was the key sponsor for those shows.
Nabbing King's program adds to Hulu's ongoing claims that it is diversifying its programming beyond next-day access to prime time programming and older reruns from its broadcaster partners News Corp. (Nasdaq: NWSA), Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) and Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA).
Ora TV, the Variety article suggested, is "betting that there's a viable end run to be made around the traditional multichannel world of cable, satellite and telco providers by getting a VoD programming block on the growing range of connected devices from smart TVs to tablets that don't lock consumers into the usual array of linear TV networks."
As for King, at 78, it gives him yet another chance to reinvent himself in a new media form just as he did when he left radio for the fledgling cable news channel CNN.
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