Hulu + Live TV, which launched in 2017 and steadily become the No. 1 “skinny bundle” service, is about to cost a lot more soon. The company has announced a $10-a-month price hike of its basic monthly rate to $54.99 a month, from $44.99 a month, a 22% increase.
“The new price better reflects the substantial value of Hulu + Live TV and allows us to continue offering all of the popular live news, sports and entertainment programming included in the plan,” the company said in a blog post.
The Hulu service includes more than 60 news, sports and entertainment channels, including all four major broadcast networks. It also offers subscribers access to Hulu’s streaming offerings, including original shows, thousands of movies and 85,000 TV episodes.
Disney took control of Hulu last spring in a deal with Comcast and has gone on to bundle the basic on-demand version of Hulu with its new Disney+ streaming service as well as ESPN+ for $12.99 per month.
On the live TV side, a report from Wall Street research firm MoffettNathanson determined that Hulu is the No. 1 skinny bundle, with 2.7 million subscribers. That puts them ahead of AT&T TV Now and Dish Network’s Sling TV. Google has not released numbers for YouTube TV, but it is believed to have scaled quickly. Sony recently dropped out of the skinny race, folding PlayStation Vue after a four-year run.
Originally conceived of as a lower-cost offering that updates the pay-TV industry’s two-year contracts, trucks and hardware boxes, skinny bundles have had to raise prices significantly as their offerings grew less skinny. AT&T’s subscriber losses with DirecTV Now — renamed earlier this year as AT&T TV Now — have been accelerating.
Hulu’s blog post acknowledged the pricing challenge, and hinted that a lower-cost version of Hulu’s platform could be in the offing. “We realize many Hulu customers want even more choice and control over their live viewing experience, so we’re actively exploring ways to provide additional, more tailored live TV options to you in the future,” it said.
The blog post also acknowledged the reality of customers being able to pause subscriptions with the touch of a button, as opposed to the traditionally grueling process of escaping from a cable contract. Hulu is embracing that trend, which had been anathema to pay-TV distributors for decades.
“Price changes are never easy to stomach, and we know that many people don’t watch live television year-round, so we’ve made it easy for Hulu subscribers to switch back and forth between our plans to best suit their needs,” it said.