& cplSiteName &

Comcast Ready for Clash With Hulu

Mari Silbey

With Hulu getting ready to launch a cable-competing live TV service, partial owner Comcast, even though hamstrung by merger conditions, isn't sitting still ahead of the frontal assault.

First, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is planning for the day when it can resume an active role in managing Hulu operations. As part of the conditions imposed on its acquisition of NBCUniversal LLC , Comcast agreed to take a back seat in running Hulu, which it co-owns with Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS), 21st Century Fox and Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX). That means, at least theoretically*, that Comcast hasn't had any say in how Hulu develops products, licenses content or even how Hulu might structure a sale of the company, which it considered in 2013. (*See Comcast Merger May Hinge on Hulu.)

However, those conditions expire in 2018, and while that's still over a year away, it's only a short time in the context of corporate boardroom strategizing. Comcast could make life difficult for its Hulu LLC partners after that future date, particularly with regard to how services are priced and how NBCU content is packaged.

Editor's scribblings of the Comcast/Hulu connections.
Editor's scribblings of the Comcast/Hulu connections.

Second, Comcast is getting ready to launch its own online skinny bundle service, Xfinity Instant TV, in the third quarter of this year. Comcast will have to do this very carefully in an effort not to cannibalize revenue from its more expensive video packages. But with pricing starting at only $15 per month, the new service should compete favorably with other low-cost over-the-top TV options, including Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH)'s Sling TV, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s DirecTV Now and, drum roll please, Hulu's own forthcoming live TV service. (See The Skinny on Comcast's Skinny Bundle.)

Third, a Bloomberg report has it that Comcast is preparing to produce an additional video service with content aggregated from its own NBCU assets once federal merger conditions no longer apply. This offering would presumably look something like the CBS All Access service and likewise be available nationwide, rather than only in Comcast's footprint like Xfinity Instant TV. However, given the limitations of off-the-record sources, any conclusions about a go-to-market strategy are just speculation at this point. The bottom line is that any online NBC service could detract from Hulu's offering, which has to depend on NBC content as part of its appeal.

Want to know more about video and TV market trends? Check out our dedicated video services content channel here on Light Reading.

Hulu, meanwhile, is soaking up the media spotlight ahead of its service launch. Although the company hasn't officially announced pricing, TechCrunch reports that sources claim the new live TV offering will ring in at $39.99 per month and will include ads as well as access to on-demand content. The base package won't allow for fast forwarding through commercials like a traditional DVR, but TechCrunch says Hulu is considering a premium bundle that would unlock the feature along with cloud storage for recorded programs.

On Hulu's own promotional site for the new service, the company highlights a number of features, including personalized content alerts, multiple concurrent streams for the entire household and the ability to pause live TV. Hulu markets the offering as "All your TV. One experience."

Hulu has a problem, however. Even after nearly a decade of doing business, it isn't profitable. And, as Frost & Sullivan analyst Dan Rayburn points out, with content costs being what they are, there's no guarantee -- even with a full-fledged live TV service on the way -- that it will make money in the future either.

Compare that to Comcast, which makes a lot of money.

On the one hand, it's in Comcast's interests for Hulu to succeed. On the other hand, why would the cable company just sit back, even as a co-owner, and watch Hulu try to eat into its market share? Comcast has a lot more invested in its own video services than in those of its partial subsidiary, and that's before rival AT&T potentially takes a stake in the business with the acquisition of Time Warner. (See AT&T-Time Warner Merger Gets European Approval.)

Why would Comcast set those interests aside?

The answer is that it wouldn't. And the evidence suggests that it isn't.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

(8)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Light Beer
7/25/2017 | 3:12:58 AM
harley quinn injustice 2 outfits
inside the regular blog of your webpage, it has all the earmarks of being beautiful in super look at in my reality and furthermore you all totally did a top notch movement and keep it for comparably much obliged.

harley quinn injustice 2 outfits
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/25/2017 | 4:32:03 PM
Re: Troll bridge
Isn't Light Reading going to re-design soon with its merger? Any word on how that might effect a mobile version of this site?
Greg Scott
Greg Scott,
User Rank: Lightning
4/19/2017 | 6:02:46 PM
Re: Still?
With everyone and their brother doing a skinny bundle, why doesn't Netflix? With all those existing subs and interfaces wouldn't that be easy?


Meanwhile, I bet Comcast hates having to join the poor-man's cable club.
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/19/2017 | 11:36:22 AM
Re: Troll bridge
I think mobile friendliness has been on the drawing board since the Bush II era. It's kind of like my front lawn. Every year I resolve to get it in shape, and every year I end up with a bumper crop of crabgrass. As for the trolls, human vigilance is the most effective removal tool.
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/19/2017 | 11:01:39 AM
Re: Troll bridge

Well Dennis - I would strongly urge a technology update for the site.  Not only do we have the trolling that is a challenge, but we have NO MOBILE SITE.  I mean hey guys this is NOT 2007.  My personal site is mobile friendly and it took almost no work.  I mean per Dennis's comment in the other thread the Telcos would stop whining if we all viewed LR on our phones in a much nicer manner. 


User Rank: Light Sabre
4/19/2017 | 10:38:41 AM
Troll bridge
Anybody else tired of seeing the Putinistas practicing on the LR message board?
User Rank: Light Beer
4/19/2017 | 6:08:52 AM
Great stuffs
inside the common blog of your site, it appears to be gorgeous in super examine in my existence and also you guys absolutely did a first-rate activity and keep it for similarly thank you. Fast 8 Movie Jacket
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/18/2017 | 11:25:32 PM
Hulu still isn't profitable? They run commercials during shows even for paying subscribers! It sounds like Hulu's going to change a lot in the future and maybe not for the best...
From The Founder
NFV's promises of automation and virtualization are intriguing, but what really excites service providers is the massive amount of money they could save.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
VMWare VP Brings Women Up With Her

8|16|17   |   6:49   |   (1) comment

It's an art and a science to make mentorship, inclusive leadership, diversity and promotion of high-potential women work, says Honore' LaBourdette, vice president of Global Market Development at VMWare.
LRTV Documentaries
5G Spectrum Wars – The Recap

8|15|17   |   2:22   |   (0) comments

Service provider 3 has filed a lawsuit against Ofcom over 5G spectrum auction in the UK.
LRTV Custom TV
Say What? Facebook Unleashes AI Anarchy – The Recap

8|7|17   |     |   (0) comments

A recap of the week's talking points on Light Reading's sister site, telecoms.com. Facebook AI programmers had a bit of a brain-fade as they allowed one of its AI applications to invent its ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Fujitsu's Women Band Together to Help Girls Do STEM

8|2|17   |   9:35   |   (1) comment

Supporting women both inside and outside of Fujitsu is a top priority of the telecom vendor. Yanbing Li, Fujitsu Network Communication's director of System Software Development & Delivery, shares why it's important, but why there's still a long road ahead.
LRTV Custom TV
If You're Not First, You're Last – The Recap

7|31|17   |   08:18   |   (1) comment

In case you missed it, Amazon's 1% stock increase helped Jeff Bezos dethrone Bill Gates as the richest man in the world. Also, Taiwanese electronics manufacturer
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
AT&T's Tech President Preps Workforce for the Future

7|26|17   |   5:47   |   (10) comments

AT&T is focused on the software-defined network of the future and is reskilling its workforce to get ready too, according to AT&T's President of Technology Development Melissa Arnoldi.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Cisco: Mentoring Critical to Attract & Retain Women

7|19|17   |   6:40   |   (1) comment

Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Computing System Product Group, shares why mentoring in all its forms is important for women and what Cisco is doing that's made a difference for women in tech.
LRTV Custom TV
Gigabit LTE With Snapdragon 835

7|12|17   |     |   (1) comment

At an event in Wembley stadium, EE used its live network to demonstrate gigabit LTE using a Sony Xperia XZ Premium smartphone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip.
LRTV Custom TV
Implementing Machine Intelligence With Guavus

7|12|17   |     |   (0) comments

Guavus unites big data and machine intelligence, enabling many of the the largest service providers in the world to save money and drive measureable revenue. Learn how applying Machine Intelligence substantially reduces operational costs and in many cases can eliminate subscriber impact, meaning a better subscriber experience and higher NPS.
LRTV Custom TV
Unlocking Customer Experience Insights With Machine Intelligence

7|12|17   |     |   (0) comments

When used to analyze operational data and to drive operational decisions, machine intelligence reduces the number of tasks which require human intervention. Guavus invested in Machine Intelligence early. Learn about the difference between Machine Learning and Machine Intelligence.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Verizon VP Talks Network, Career Planning

7|12|17   |   4:49   |   (0) comments

Heidi Hemmer, vice president of Technology, Strategy & Planning at Verizon, shares how bold bets and the future of tech define her career.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Masergy's NFV Journey

7|11|17   |     |   (0) comments

Ray Watson, vice president of global technology at Masergy, discusses the advantages and challenges in entering the still-maturing NFV market for the past three years.
Upcoming Live Events
September 28, 2017, Denver, CO
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Royal Garden Hotel
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Intel CEO Leaves Trump Biz Advisory Board
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 8/15/2017
Are Cord-Cutting's Days Numbered?
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 8/14/2017
Analyst Nolle: Fundamental Errors Plague NFV
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 8/11/2017
Snapchat Misses Estimates, Eyes Reality Shows
Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation, 8/11/2017
ATIS: Connected Car Security an Industry-Wide Issue
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 8/10/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Animals with Phones
We Know a Tough Day When We See One Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.