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Volume 27 No. 35
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Hulu CEO Discusses Possibility Of Acquiring Major Sports Rights

After listening to Hulu CEO Randy Freer for 30 minutes, you can conclude that the streaming service will eventually acquire major sports rights. The more compelling question is what it will do with those rights. “Ultimately, over time, sports rights will continue to prove their value,” Freer told media writer John Ourand during an interview on Day 1 of the ’18 CAA World Congress of Sports. “The challenge we all have is to innovate on how we distribute those rights to consumers.” Freer, who was a major buyer of live sports during his 20 years at Fox Sports, said he believes in live sports and thinks it can be a major customer acquisition tool for Hulu, which now has more than 17 million subscribers. Today, a large majority of viewers of Hulu’s live television option, which debuted in May '17, are sports viewers during significant events.

SINGLE SERVINGS: The real value will come when on-demand customers can buy into live sports for a single game, or in other unique packages, without purchasing the standard live television service. Freer predicted that viewers would soon be able to buy a single Saturday’s worth of college football, instead of buying the entire live product. Or a baseball fan could buy a single weekend series or game. “Giving on-demand customers the opportunity to participate in live sports will help us grow subscribers over the long term,” Freer said. Separately, he also addressed Hulu’s decision to buy a sponsorship of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. He said the entire streaming industry worries that consumers “still don’t know quite what we are,” and that Hulu was looking for an awareness play with the NHL deal.