Disney’s Hulu is raising prices for live TV as costs escalate

Hulu’s live TV bundle for cord-cutters is about to get more expensive.

The Walt Disney Co.-owned streaming service said Friday that its Hulu + Live TV offering, which includes more than 60 television channels, will increase its price by $10 a month, starting next month.

As of Dec. 18, the so-called skinny bundle will raise its fee to $55 a month, up from $45. The change will affect new and existing customers, according to a blog post on the Santa Monica, Calif.-based company’s website.

“The new price better reflects the substantial value of Hulu + Live TV and allows us to continue offering all of the popular live news, sports and entertainment programming included in the plan,” Hulu said in the post.

The price change comes as the cost of watching live TV via streaming is getting more expensive for consumers. Earlier this year, AT&T Inc. raised the price of its streaming bundle, AT&T TV Now, to $65 a month, representing a jump of about $15. AT&T has sustained heavy losses as consumers have dropped pay TV packages in favor of lower-cost streaming services.

It’s hardly a surprise that Hulu would raise prices as programming costs increase, particularly in live sports, which is key to the appeal of Hulu’s live TV bundle.

Hulu has been a drag on earnings for Disney, which took operational control of the streaming service in May following a deal with Comcast Corp. Disney does not break out financial results for Hulu, but the entertainment giant said this month that losses at its direct-to-consumer and international segment ballooned to $740 million in the fourth quarter, more than double from a year ago, because of Hulu, as well as investment in Disney+, which launched this week.

Hulu, founded in 2007, also may have been encouraged by growth at its live TV service as U.S. consumers stray from traditional cable packages at an accelerating pace.

Moffett Nathanson estimates there are 2.7 million subscribers for Hulu + Live TV, up from 1.2 million the same time a year ago. That’s about the same as rival Sling TV, and significantly more than the estimated 1.1 million people who use AT&T TV Now. YouTube TV has about 1.6 million subscribers.

Hulu live TV subscribers also get access to the regular Hulu service, which offers next-day streaming of TV shows as well as original programming including Emmy-winner “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Founded in 2007, Hulu’s basic streaming service, which allows people to watch shows such as “This is Us” and “The Good Doctor” the day after they air, costs $6 a month with advertising and $12 a month without ads. Disney recently said Hulu has 28.5 million subscribers.

Hulu is expected to play a significant role in Disney’s streaming strategy, serving as the home of older and original programming from FX networks. Disney is selling a bundle that includes flagship service Disney+, ESPN+ and ad-supported Hulu for $12.99 a month. Disney+, which launched Wednesday, said it has hit 10 million signups, including people using its seven-day free trial.

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