Hulu to raise its prices again in October

Photo (c) Wilfred Mgov - Getty Images

An extra dollar won’t kill the company, but its customer service might

Love Hulu? Enough to pay another dollar a month? The streaming service hasn’t made a big to-do about it, but beginning October 8, its monthly rate will go up by $1 a month.

That means Hulu’s ad-supported service will shoot up to $6.99 a month, and its ad-free service will increase to $12.99 a month. The price for the Hulu live TV plan and the Disney bundle — which includes Disney+, Hulu with ads and ESPN+ — will stay put at $13.99 a month, most likely because that rate was adjusted (by 18%) in November of 2020.

No thanks to Disney

The streaming service subscription game tends to be follow-the-leader. If Netflix — the master of inching up rates — can raise its prices without suffering a mass exodus of its subscribers, others are likely to follow suit. But Hulu took a gamble in 2019 by lowering its ad-supported tier from $7.99 to $5.99 a month in an effort to counteract Netflix’s price increase that year. 

Things changed after Disney bought a major stake in Hulu, and prices have continued to increase little by little since — not only for Hulu but for Disney's other streaming investments.

Earlier this year, Disney raised the cost of Disney+ by $1 a month, moving the monthly price to $7.99. Then, in July, it raised the price of ESPN+ to $6.99 a month.

When will this end? “Given that this is the first price increase for Hulu since their price lowering, we’re hoping it doesn’t raise any further,” commented Dana E. Neuts at Subscription Insider. “However, with more and more people cutting cords with their cable companies, Hulu and Disney are hoping to cash in on that extra dollar per month.”

To the contrary, Jared Newman of Cord Cutter Weekly thinks the hand Disney is playing is both smart for them and good for the consumer.

"Thankfully, Disney is an outlier, running Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ as separate services serving different needs while giving users who want all three a means of getting them at a discount," Newman said.

"That means cord cutters can subscribe to just the ones they want, and Disney can bring more expensive sports coverage to ESPN+ without destroying the value of its other offerings. Those who argue that we have too many streaming services fail to realize that the alternative would be even worse."

Hulu subscribers raise service issues

A dollar a month is not likely to kill Hulu’s subscriber base, but the quality of service might. ConsumerAffairs reviewers have beset Hulu with 52 1-star ratings in the last year, many of which raised concerns about the quality of its streaming service.

“I can't and when I say I can't, I mean, I can't get through a show without Hulu losing connection at least 3 times. This means when I am streaming live, I usually miss about half the show as I have to login again every time which takes forever!” wrote Angela of Texas, commenting on her technical woes with Hulu.

”I have contacted Hulu several times and they have me reboot and clear out the cookies every time which does nothing. To add insult to injury, they recently went up $15 per month on their pricing and are the most expensive app I have, and I can't even watch it most the time.”

Several reviewers beefed about the company's customer service. “Signed up with Verizon free Hulu/Disney/ESPN+ I received all 3. No charges from ESPN or Disney. Hulu is the only company who continues to charge my bank account,” wrote William of North Carolina. 

“I am paying my upgraded Verizon phone bill, I am owed Hulu for free in the contract. Hulu claims I cannot use my email address. They are unable to change anything. The fix Hulu offered was to change my email I’ve used for 20 years and cancel the Disney/ESPN/Hulu from Verizon and start all new with a new account. Hulu, you aren’t that special … canceled the service but I still pay.”

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