In response to the COVID-10 outbreak, Hulu is adding a free, live news stream to its app for customers who only subscribe to its on-demand service, not its live TV add-on. The news coverage is provided in partnership with ABC News Live, and brings live news 24/7 to Hulu on-demand subscribers as part of their existing subscription.
This includes those who pay for Hulu alone as well as those who pay for the newer Disney+/Hulu/ESPN+ bundle subscription, the company noted. And it will be available to both tiers of Hulu’s on-demand service, including the ad-supported and Hulu’s No Ads plan.
The live stream will also be featured in the “Hulu Picks” section for easy access and will be available across living room and mobile devices, as well as popular game consoles.
Hulu Live TV customers, meanwhile, already have a number of live TV news channels they can watch as a part of their subscription. But Hulu’s on-demand service is far larger, with 27.2 million paid subscribers, compared with just 3.2 million for Live TV.
Health organizations and political leaders have urged Americans to get their news from trusted sources during the COVID-19 crisis — not from social media, where misinformation spreads more quickly than tech companies can moderate or remove. (When and if they try to do so.)
Meanwhile, the uncertainty around the coronavirus outbreak has led to a significant number of online rumors, hoaxes, conspiracy theories, and snake oil cures. Earlier this week, for example, a fake news report of a national quarantine spread so quickly that the National Security Council had to post a statement to assure Americans the news was untrue.
The addition of live news for Hulu arrives at a time when a growing number of U.S. consumers have cut the cord with traditional pay TV or chose to never sign up in the first place. In Hulu’s case, the company says close to half its customers fall into one of those two buckets.
“More than 45 percent of Hulu viewers have either cut the cord or never had cable, and may not have access to live, televised news to receive critical information during times of national crisis,” the company said, in an announcement. “With this live stream, we aim to keep our viewers informed during this unprecedented time when having access to information is vital to our communities,” Hulu said.
In addition, fewer U.S. consumers today subscribe to a daily newspaper than in generations prior. Instead, much of our “TV viewing” is now taking place in on-demand apps like Netflix and Hulu, and our news is gathered in bits and pieces online.
Hulu isn’t the first streaming provider to add free live news to its service as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. This week, Sling TV launched free streaming that included live news from ABC News Live, as well.
Of course, you don’t need to be a Hulu subscriber to watch ABC News Live. The news service streams online and through the ABC News app for free. But integration into major streaming apps like Hulu will make the service more accessible and more visible, as it won’t require people to seek out a separate app just to watch.