Hulu To Hike Live TV Subscription Price By 18% In December

Days after Disney CEO Bob Chapek praised Hulu’s live TV offering during the company’s quarterly earnings call, the company has notified customers of a significant price increase.

As of December 18, the package including more than five dozen networks will cost $64.99 a month for both current and new subscribers, up 18% from the previous rate of $54.99.

The hike was relayed today to subscribers by the company, which did not offer any additional comment on the move. The move brings Hulu’s live bundle, in line with rival services like YouTube TV, which also goes for $64.99.

Disney reported that Hulu had 4.1 million live subscribers as of September 30, to go along with 32.5 million customers paying for the Hulu on-demand service. Unlike YouTube or other internet-delivered bundles, Hulu’s subscription price includes access to its on-demand programming.

When Chapek was asked on the earnings call about cord-cutting trends in pay-TV and how the company planned to address them, he gave an answer that seemed remarkably cheery even by Disney’s standards.

“We’ve got a product that we’re really excited about and has experienced some rapid growth and that’s Hulu + Live TV,” he said. “It really gives the utility that consumers might normally find from the cable or satellite subscriber and be able to get it over-the-top directly to their homes.”

The company lost money overall during the quarter due to COVID-19 but streaming results exceeded expectations in the streaming arena. Within those operations, Hulu’s financial profile was a big reason why. Despite a downturn in ad revenue during the quarter, its revenue per user came in at triple that of Disney+, which has quickly attracted almost 74 million global subscribers but at lower monthly rates and without ads.

Chapek enthused that Hulu + Live TV can “increasingly act as a solution to those households that have walked away from their traditional, more traditional cable type of subscriptions.” The CEO added his own endorsement. “I’m a personal big fan of it,” he said. “I use it. And it’s really slick. It’s very elegant, and it really is a big solution provider. It’s really the complete solution, I think. So we’re excited about that in terms of solving a consumer need for those consumers as you mentioned that have all walked away from that particular way of distributing and receiving content.”

Once known as “skinny bundles,” TV packages delivered via the internet have followed a bumpy path in recent years, reaching a plateau after initially seeming like a potential successor to the traditional linear bundle. Those operating the services promote the fact that they don’t involve contracts or equipment, meaning subscribers can easily opt in and out. Soon after being taken over by Disney in 2018, Hulu has aggressively promoted its live sports programming, even encouraging customers to cancel and then restart based on the timing of their favorite sports.

YouTube said earlier this year that YouTube TV has surpassed 3 million subscribers and Dish Network’s Sling TV is close behind with about 2.5 million.

AT&T, once a contender with DirecTV Now, rebranded the service as AT&T Now, but it continues to lose subscribers as the company increasingly favors a slightly different offering, AT&T TV. Smaller players with defined niches, like the “sports-first” FuboTV and the general entertainment service Philo, have made a solid go of it but at six-figure subscriber levels. Early contender PlayStation Vue, shuttered earlier this year when Sony determined that the economics no longer made sense.

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