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Here’s the real reason your bill just got more expensive—and what to expect next.
The cost of Hulu with Live TV just went up, but there’s a silver lining for those streaming on a budget.
Hulu announced Jan. 23 that the cost of its live TV service is jumping to $44.99 per month, up from $39.99. On the flip side, Hulu slashed the price of its standard on-demand service with commercials from $7.99 per month to just $5.99. That’s one of the best deals in streaming—if you don’t mind sitting through some ads. (It’s those ads, of course, that afford the company the ability to reduce its subscription price at the exact moment its main competitor, Netflix, is set to raise its.)
The price changes will take effect Feb. 26 for new subscribers. Those who already subscribe will see the changes on their first bill after Feb. 26.
In a company blog post, Hulu didn’t explicitly state the reason behind the price hike, but it noted that the company has made considerable improvements to its platform over the past year, especially when it comes to device compatibility. It’s the only streaming service that works on Nintendo Switch, for example. (You can find a complete guide to Hulu-compatible devices here.) The company also touted the addition of nearly a dozen channels to the service, including the CW, Animal Planet, TLC, and Discovery Channel. As with Netflix, the production of original series and movies surely factored in.
A better explanation for the increase can be found in Disney’s recent SEC filing for the first quarter of 2019. Disney, which has a significant investment in Hulu, revealed that its loss in equity investments increased $159 million, to $580 million total for the fiscal year that closed Sept. 30, “primarily due to a higher loss from our investment in Hulu.”
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Additionally, Hulu CEO Randy Freer signaled in October 2018 that the company may soon offer a “skinny bundle” of live TV channels, primarily news and sports, and focus more on on-demand offerings. The move would turn Hulu into an entertainment hub for streaming premium content. In other words, it would operate more like Amazon Prime than Netflix, where, in addition to its traditional collection of on-demand TV shows and movies, users could add channels like HBO (already available), BritBox, and ESPN+ (likely coming soon).
“We are going to become the wholesaler for a lot of these direct-to-consumer brands that are going to need a friendly wholesaler versus Amazon or Apple,” Freer said. “We have to be able to evolve so we can provide the customers the news and sports and entertainment in a way that makes sense, bundled in a way that allows us to create packages that have a positive margin.”
For now at least, the only major change to Hulu with Live TV is the $5-per-month increase, but I expect there to be a few more ripples leading up to the debut of Disney’s new streaming service and the close of Disney’s $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox. Set to launch later this year, Disney+ will likely offer various bundles of Disney’s assets—Hulu, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and ESPN, for starters—and thoroughly disrupt the market.
Until then, here’s everything you need to know about the cost of Hulu with Live TV.
Hulu with Live TV price
There are two tiers of Hulu with Live TV. The standard service, which now costs $44.99 per month, includes complimentary access to Hulu’s on-demand catalog. If you want to remove the ads for your on-demand viewing, the cost to upgrade has also increased. It’s now $50.99 per month, up from $43.99.
Hulu offers two bonus features. Hulu’s Enhanced Cloud DVR lets your record up to 200 hours, fast-forward through commercials, and record multiple channels at once. (Otherwise, Hulu with Live TV comes with 50 hours of cloud DVR.) Unlimited Screens lets you stream on three screens at once when you’re on the go and as many as you want while at home. (Otherwise, you’re limited to two.) Both features cost $14.99 per month individually, but you can combine the two for $20 per month.
There are also two additional channel packages. The Entertainment add-on costs $7.99 per month and tacks on nine extra channels: AHC, CNBC World, Destination America, Discovery Family, Discovery Life, DIY Network, FYI, Lifetime Movies, and Sci. The Español add-on provides six key channels for $4.99 per month: CNN en Español, Discovery en Español, Discovery Familia, ESPN Deportes, NBC Universo, History en Español. (Here’s a complete guide to Hulu with Live TV channels.)
Hulu with Live TV cost breakdown
Here’s a complete breakdown of Hulu with Live TV’s various offerings:
- Hulu with Live TV: $44.99 per month
- Hulu with Live TV (+ no ads): $50.99
- HBO: $14.99 per month
- Showtime: $10.99
- Cinemax: $9.99 per month
- Entertainment add-on: $7.99 per month
- Español add-on: $4.99
Hulu with Live TV cost comparison
Following the price hike, Hulu with Live TV is slightly more expensive than most other streaming services. Here’s how it stacks up against the competition. You can click on each service to learn more about what it offers. Each of the services below provides a free seven-day free trial.
- Pluto TV: Free
- Philo: $16 per month
- Sling TV: $25-$40 per month
- FuboTV: $44.99 for your first month and $54.99 per month thereafter
- DirecTV Now: $50-$85 per month
- YouTube TV: $49.99 per month
- PlayStation Vue: $44.99-$79.99 per month
As you can see, Hulu with Live TV now comes in at the high end of live TV streaming services, but the company is hoping the convenience of having a centralized hub for both live TV and on-demand entertainment will be enough to entice new subscribers—and keep current customers satisfied.
Not sure what to watch on Hulu? Here are the best movies on Hulu, what’s new, the best shows on Hulu, the sexiest movies you can stream on the service, Hulu documentaries, anime, and the must-see Hulu original series. Looking for something more specific? Here are the best thrillers and action movies to get your heart racing, classic movies when you want a blast from the past, sad movies when you need a good cry, and funny movies on Hulu when you need a good laugh.
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Austin Powell is the managing editor of the Daily Dot. His work focuses on the intersection of entertainment and technology. He previously served as a music columnist for the Austin Chronicle and is the co-author of The Austin Chronicle Music Anthology.