Hulu is reported to be developing an online subscription service with feeds of popular broadcast and cable television channels. So far it seems that it could include some of the services of its shareholders, including sports channels, but not all the main networks.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Hulu hopes to launch the service in the first quarter of 2017, according to unnamed sources familiar with the plans.

Initially launched as a free online service in the United States, supported by advertising, Hulu has been moving to a subscription model. Hulu has around 10 million subscribers to its current service, which offers online access to programmes.

Hulu is a joint venture partnership between NBCUniversal, the Disney ABC Television Group and Fox Broadcasting. NBCUniversal is a silent partner in Hulu, as a condition of its acquisition by Comcast in 2011.

The report says the Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox are nearing agreements to license many of their channels for the platform, including ABC, ESPN, Disney Channel, Fox, Fox News and the national and regional sports channels from Fox. NBCUniversal has yet to licence its networks, according to the sources.

CBS offers its own service, called CBS All Access, offering programmes from the day after the first broadcast, as well as library shows.

The proposed service from the Hulu partners would be in direct competition to traditional pay-television providers and other new entrants, including Sling TV from Dish Network and PlayStation Vue from Sony.