Hulu Renews “Handmaid,” Sets Live TV Service

Hulu used its upfront presentation at Madison Square Garden Theater this morning to make numerous announcements and talk about its upcoming slate of projects.

The biggest piece of news is that hot on the heels of its extraordinary first-week premiere numbers, Hulu has announced that it has picked up “The Handmaid’s Tale” for a second season set to debut in 2018.

The series premiere has reportedly been watched by more Hulu viewers than any other series premiere – original or acquired – on the service, along with drawing acclaim from both fans and critics.

The First, executive produced by Beau Willimon and his producing partner Jordan Tappis, explores the challenges of taking the first steps toward interplanetary colonization in the near future.

Hulu has also ordered the first human mission to Mars drama series “The First” from U.S. “House of Cards” creator Beau Willimon. That project has received a straight-to-series order and will go into production later this year for a premiere on Hulu in 2018.

Hulu has also reached a new agreement which will see full seasons of shows from Scripps Networks Interactive – which includes HGTV, Travel Channel and the Food Network – on its service. Hulu has also locked up exclusive subscription streaming rights to NBC’s “This Is Us” and FX’s “Atlanta”.

Finally, Hulu announced the beta launch of Hulu With Live TV. The $39.99 monthly skinny bundle package boasts around 50 channels including ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC programming — with the availability of local TV stations varying by market — and cable networks ESPN, CNN, Fox News, TBS, TNT and Disney Channel. Showtime is available for $9 extra.

Notable absentees include HBO, AMC Networks, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, MTV, Starz, and Discovery. Markets outside L.A., New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Chicago won’t be guaranteed all four major networks from launch as deals are still being cut.