News Analysis
Hulu revealed today that it had a net gain of eight million subscribers in 2018, bringing its year-end total to 25 million. The streaming service did not break out the numbers, but it’s likely that the overwhelming number of additions were for its subscription Video on Demand service rather than its live, multi-channel offering.

The subscriber surge was impressive and several news organizations including Variety, The Wall Street Journal, The Wrap and The Hollywood Reporter published stories today with the details. However, not one offered a reason for the sub increase except for Bloomberg which suggested it was driven by Hulu’s original and award-winning drama, The Handmaid’s Tale.

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The Handmaid’s Tale was responsible for the net addition of eight million subscribers? Give me a break.

Hulu had a big 2018 because of dirt-cheap promotional prices, not a single show, no matter how good it may be.

For several months in 2018, Hulu reduced its base price from $7.99 a month to $5.99 a month. At $5.99 a month, Hulu was $5-a-month cheaper than Netflix’s plan that also includes high-definition video and the ability to watch streams on two different devices at the same time.

(The $5.99 offer ran in early 2018 and then again from September 2018 to January 3, 2019. Hulu in October 2017 launched a similar $5.99 a month deal, which likely contributed to the company’s bump from 17 million subscribers at the end of 2017 to more than 20 million by May 2018.)

That was an outstanding bargain, and consumers clearly went for it.

But that’s not all. During the 2018 holiday shopping period, Hulu lowered its price to 99 cents a month. Without a doubt, many people jumped on that one, too.

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So Hulu basically bought its subscription growth in 2018 by lowering prices to such an attractive rate that you couldn’t resist. But for some reason, you won’t find that mentioned in today’s press. They seem to think Elisabeth Moss (star of Handmaid’s Tale) is Hulu’s hero.

— Phillip Swann