Hulu has announced the addition of 61 second-city and small-town local network affiliates to its virtual MVPD service.
With the addition, Hulu Live now has access to 492 broadcast network owned and operated and affiliate stations across its national footprint. According to a tabulation from blog streambuzz.net, the next closest competitor is YouTube TV, which announced affiliate additions last week and is now up to 302 locals.
DirecTV Now (219) and Sony PlayStation Vue (203) trail far behind. Dish Network—which didn’t negotiate a streaming deal in its latest CBS Corp. renewal—has apparently abdicated the locals race for Sling TV, which has retrans deals with only 36 local broadcast stations but remains the most affordable vMVPD.
Streambuzz has put together a pretty comprehensive chart here detailing which vMVPD has locked up what.
With the additions, Hulu now has broadcast retransmission licensing agreements with 155 Fox stations across the U.S. It also has agreements with 139 CBS outlets, 100 ABC stations and 82 NBC affiliates.
Hulu’s latest round of additions included smaller markets like Bakersfield, California; Anchorage, Alaska; and Bend, Oregon.
Virtual pay TV services like Hulu Live and DirecTV Now are looking to create comprehensive national reach for their respective services and build audience and scale. And the ability to provide local markets with each of the Big Four broadcasters is an expensive yet important step in that process.
Since none of Hulu’s stakeholders break out a lot of information about the streaming company in their SEC filings, it’s tough for the linear pay TV business—beyond part-owner Comcast—to truly know Hulu’s economics. But Hulu’s ability to package a robust SVOD service, along with a livestreaming service that has all the major local channels in most places of the country, has to be an advantage right now as linear pay TV services once again raise prices and spur their customers to look for alternatives.