In the fight to secure streaming video subscribers, Hulu may have just made the most aggressive move yet.
On Friday, the video service unveiled a special offer for new subscribers, letting them buy into its base ad-supported tier for $0.99 per month for one year. The base tier normally costs $7.99 per month after a short introductory period. After the one year is up, the price will revert to the normal monthly price.
The steep discount — only available through Monday — is part of Hulu’s efforts to aggressively grow market share and keep pace with Netflix.
Netflix has more than 58 million subscribers, while Hulu has more than 20 million subscribers.
Hulu has generally been more experimental with its subscription offerings. The company’s less expensive ad-supported tier is a point of differentiation from ad-free Netflix. Also, it has partnered with Spotify to launch discounted bundles.
Verified students can receive a subscription to Hulu’s ad-supported tier and Spotify Premium for $4.99 per month. For non-students, a bundle was available for $12.99 per month.
Still, even that pales in comparison to one year at $0.99 per month.
“Is this a sign of strength or weakness? Never seen Netflix discount in any form — this is like literally giving Hulu away,” wrote BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield on Twitter, after seeing the deal.
Hulu, like Netflix, is losing money as it chases scale. The hope is that once it is big enough, it can reduce its investments and start monetizing more efficiently. With a combination subscription-ad model, Hulu also has more opportunities to do so.
While Netflix also has a large head start, Disney CEO Bob Iger told analysts recently that Hulu will start launching in international markets shortly after Disney assumes operational control of the company next year.