With Hulu Plus Live TV showing continued strong growth, parent Disney isn’t hesitating to increase the service’s price for the third time in three years.
The virtual video-on-demand (vMVPD) service offers both subscription VOD access and live-streamed virtual pay TV boasting more than 65 channels.
The price of the base package, with ads in the VOD bundle, is being bumped up by $10, or 18%, to $64.99, as of Dec. 18 — the same as rival YouTube TV, which hiked its own price by $15 over the summer. The premium tier, with no ads, is being increased by 16%, to $70.99.
One difference: Hulu charges $10 per month extra for “Enhanced DVR,” including the ability to fast-forward through commercials — which is included at no extra charge in the DVRs of YouTube TV and most other live TV streaming services, notes Fast Company.
The on-demand version of Hulu is still priced at $6 per month with ads and $12 per month without.
Hulu Plus Live TV added a net 700,000 subscribers in the third quarter, bringing its total to 4.1 million, according to Disney.
That puts it about a million subscribers ahead of YouTube TV. Third-largest is Sling TV, with 2.5 million subscribers at $30 per month, followed by Philo, with 800,000 ($20); AT&T TV Now with 683,000 ($55); and Fubo TV with 455,000 ($59.99).
The price increases likely reflect, in part, continuing increases in network carriage fees — although the live sports access that drives cost hikes, as we are all well aware, are still not back to predictable, pre-COVID seasons in some cases.
But that aside, Disney — which has no doubt thoroughly researched the price hikes — is smart to charge what the market will bear.
To state the obvious, accelerating subscription volume growth at the cost of narrowing or eliminating the profit margin may be a viable strategy for a while, but it’s a killer in the long term.