Hulu has cut the price of its ad-included monthly streaming service from $7.99 a month to $5.99 a month in an apparent effort to exploit Netflix’s decision this month to raise prices.
The time-limited offer is only good for new and returning subscribers, and the price will return for customers who sign up to $7.99 a month after one year. (Hulu also offers an ad-free edition for $11.99 a month.)
Still, at $5.99 a month, Hulu is now $5-a-month cheaper than Netflix’s plan that also includes high-def and the ability to watch streams on two different devices at the same time. (Netflix also has a basic $7.99-a-month plan that includes one stream, and standard-definition programming.)
Netflix last week raised the price of the HD, two-stream monthly plan from $9.99 a month to $10.99 a month for new customers; the fee hike will be added soon to existing customers as well.
In addition, Netflix raised the price of its four-stream, 4K/HD plan from $11.99 to $13.99 a month.
Hulu’s $5.99 offer, which will expire on January 9, 2018, was quietly added to its web site last month. But the company launched an e-mail blitz this week to alert former subscribers (and others) of the deal, an obvious attempt to exploit Netflix’s decision.
Hulu, which last year launched a live streaming service for $39.99 a month, has badly trailed both Netflix and Amazon Prime in the subscription Video on Demand category. Netflix has more than 50 million steaming subscribers in the United States while Hulu’s number is thought to be well under 20 million.
Amazon does not reveal subscriber totals for its Prime streaming service, but analysts have estimated it’s in the dozens of millions. (Amazon Prime streaming costs $8.99 a month, if purchased separately; free if you purchase the annual $99 Amazon Prime membership, which also includes such perks as two-day free shipping on thousands of Amazon.com products.)
By dropping the price now in the Fall when home viewing increases, Hulu is clearly hoping it can attract not only new subscribers, but peel away some Netflix customers.
Hulu has also committed to spending $2.5 billion on programming this year, far less than Netflix, but a significant increase over previous years. The company scored a big victory over Netflix last month when its original drama, The Handmaid’s Tale (pictured above), won the Emmy for Best Drama Series.
— Phillip Swann