Numbers Show Skinny Bundles Underwhelm

Hulu plans to begin a major marketing push for its $40-a-month streaming cable competitor Hulu Live, a senior Hulu executive said in an interview, as it brings the service out of a test phase. But exclusive new data on subscriber numbers for streaming services suggests Hulu may struggle to sign up many people.

Comparable “skinny bundle” streaming services such as Dish Network’s Sling, YouTube TV and AT&T’s DirecTV Now have signed up only around 3.4 million total subscribers between them, according to industry executives with knowledge of the numbers. Sling, the oldest service, has around two million, while Sony’s Playstation Vue service has 450,000 and YouTube TV has 200,000, the executives said. AT&T has disclosed that DirecTV Now had 491,000 as of June 30.

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“What we say to traditional [cable carriers] now is 80% of our subscribers are also cable TV subscribers and they’re watching us for an hour and a half a day. If you decide you don’t want to put us on your set-top box, you’re essentially forcing that shared [subscriber] that we have out of your ecosystem,” Mr. Connolly said.

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“What we want is the most subscribers period. And the most viewers period.”