Hulu drops price for entry-level users, hikes price of live TV tier

Depending on how you use popular on-demand (and live TV) streaming service Hulu, your wallet is either having a good or a bad day: The company announced price changes across two of its three tiers, dropping the cost for entry-level subscribers, but raising it for those who enjoy its most advanced features. The prices will go into effect on February 26.

If you subscribe to Hulu’s cheapest plan, which is subsidized by ads, the price has gone from $8 to just $6 per month — a solid value if you want to watch Hulu’s content but don’t mind sitting through some ads. The price of Hulu’s ad-free tier remains $12 per month.

If you subscribe to its live TV plan, though, you’ll now pay $5 more per month than you used to, with prices rising to $45 per month to enjoy access to live streams of popular channels.

This move matches similar moves we’ve seen from YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue, and DirectTV Now — all, oddly, raising their prices by the same $5 per month. YouTube TV and DirectTV Now now cost $40, where Hulu and Playstation Vue now cost $45. That may be enough of a difference for those who are considering other live streaming alternatives to go with a competitor, though those services that don’t yet cost $45 may also be mulling further price hikes in 2019. For now, the best advice may be to stick with what you like or to go with the cheapest service, Sling TV, which costs just $25 for its most basic plan (though that price did rise by $5 per month in the last year, too).

On the on-demand streaming front, it makes sense that Hulu would lower prices for its bottom tier right now: Netflix just raised the cost of all three of its streaming tiers, garnering some anger from longtime subscribers. By providing a cheaper, if ad-soaked, option, it may garner users from the fallout of Netflix’s price bump.

It’s also worth noting that Disney is not only creating its own on-demand streaming service to undercut Netflix in the market, but that it is also about to be a majority shareholder in Hulu due to its recent acquisition of Fox. This makes the move to lower prices at the bottom end even more strategic for Hulu, which, like Netflix, loses billions of dollars a year.

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