Hulu Hiking Prices of On-Demand Plans by $1 per Month
Disney is raising prices on Hulu’s baseline video-on-demand streaming packages next month, as the Mouse House seeks to push customers toward the three-way Disney Bundle and Hulu’s live TV packages.
On Tuesday, Hulu began notifying subscribers that as of Oct. 8, the price of Hulu’s two on-demand plans — with ads and without commercials — will increase by $1 for both current and new subscribers. Hulu with ads will increase from $5.99 to $6.99 per month and Hulu (No Ads) will increase from $11.99 to $12.99.
The changes do not affect the pricing of the Hulu + Live TV plans ($64.99/month with VOD ads; $70.99/month without VOD ads) or the Disney Bundle, which remains at $13.99/month in the U.S. for Hulu with ads, Disney Plus and ESPN Plus. Indeed, with the recent price hikes for each of Disney’s individual streaming services, the Disney Bundle is now even more attractive — offering a 36% discount compared with purchasing the three separately.
A “good chunk of our marketing now is going toward the bundle,” Disney CEO Bob Chapek said on the company’s Aug. 12 earnings call. He said that’s because “while we enjoy extremely low churn rates on our individual services, the churn rates on the bundle are even lower — surprisingly low even for us.”
It’s the first price hike ever for Hulu’s no-ads tier, introduced in 2015. For the entry-level product with ads, the increase is the first in nearly three years, after Hulu cut the price of the entry-level product with ads from $7.99 to $5.99 per month in early 2019.
For the quarter ended July 3, Disney said that Hulu turned a profit for the first time. Hulu subs grew 22% year over year, to 42.8 million, including 3.7 million subscribers on live TV plans (up 9% year over year).
The price hikes for Hulu’s VOD tiers come after Disney announced plans to phase out the Hotstar U.S. service — which provides live cricket and South Asian programming to American audiences — and will make available thousands of Hotstar specials and Bollywood films and series on Hulu. (ESPN Plus will pick up Hotstar’s U.S. sports rights.)
One of Hulu’s big selling points is that it’s the only service that gives viewers next-day access to current shows from each of the major U.S. broadcast networks — although starting next year NBC has the right to cancel its Hulu programming agreements, and CBS and Fox may follow suit in clawing back their streaming rights.
Hulu has stepped up its focus on original TV series and films, and recently announced record-setting viewing for originals including “Nine Perfect Strangers,” “Only Murders in the Building” and “Vacation Friends” (although it didn’t reveal actual audience figures). The Disney-controlled streamer is aiming to boost its lineup of must-see originals beyond previous breakout series like “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Little Fires Everywhere.”
Variety's Todd Spangler contributed to this post.