Hulu offers a sneak peek at its new live service

LAS VEGAS -- With its new live TV service set to launch soon, Hulu wants to deliver programming with a more personal touch.

Rather than serve up a traditional programming guide with a list of channels and what's currently airing on them, Hulu will greet users with an uncluttered look that shows you what shows or movies are available now that might appeal to you.

During the Consumer Electronics Show here this week, Hulu senior vice president Ben Smith offered demonstrations of the service, which will become available in the next few months, priced at under $40.

When you sign up for Hulu's live TV service, users will be asked a few questions about their tastes, interests and favorite channels. That initial input will help populate programming suggestions. "So immediately the first time you use the service there's things that you want to watch," Smith said. "It's not about me saying. 'Here's what's popular' or 'Here's what I think you should watch'."

As you watch more programs, Hulu will offer relevant suggestions. It will also send you alerts about sports teams or news. A new promotional video shows a man getting a basketball score alert on his smartphone while jogging. He opens up the Hulu app and taps a "Watch later" option, which prompts Hulu to save the game on the cloud DVR.

"I always think of a UI (user interface) as a person and that we’re actually having a conversation,” said Smith, who before coming to Hulu helped design the Xbox One interface. The conversation Hulu’s interface will have with users is “I’m so glad that you are here, I'd love to know what you are interested in because I want to show you that first. What’s the right UI to present that in so as you turn this on it (says) ‘Hey, Ben, you love football. Boom. The Patriots game is on. ... it is different certainly from Netflix and YouTube, which are very algorithmic post-consumption."

Multiple profiles can be set up on your account and they will be recognized across the initial devices Hulu will be on: Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Xbox One and Android and Apple iOS devices.

Owned by The Walt Disney Company (ABC), Comcast (NBCUniversal) and 21st Century Fox, each of which own 30%, and Time Warner, Hulu currently offers subscriptions for TV and movies on demand ($7.99 monthly with limited commercials, $11.99 monthly for commercial-free watching).

2017 International Consumer Electronics Show
Last week, Hulu announced it had an agreement with CBS to include its live content including TV shows such as Big Bang Theory and live sports on the upcoming live TV offering. With a full complement of live local channels -- NBC shows are expected to be included, too -- Hulu could outshine competing cord-cutting services such as DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue and Sling TV each have some live local networks, but not all local channels nationwide, said Anthony DiClemente, an analyst with Instinet Equity Research in a report.

Hulu "presents a compelling content proposition that is largely unmatched across current (alternatives)," he said.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.


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