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Hulu Plus Live TV Subscribers Get $5 Price Hike, Plus Disney Plus, ESPN Plus

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(Image credit: Hulu)

The Walt Disney Co. is pushing subscribers of its Hulu Plus Live TV further into its streaming bundle.

In an email to subscribers Friday, the company said it is raising the price of its virtual multichannel video programming distributor by $5 a month to $69.99 a month (with ads in on-demand programming) and $75.99 a month (without ads in on-demand programming).

But after the price increase kicks in, those vMVPD subscribers will also find themselves getting Disney Plus and ESPN Plus.

"With this change, you will also get access to Disney Plus and ESPN Plus. On Disney Plus, you can watch all the amazing content from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and Nat Geo, plus The Simpsons. And ESPN Plus has even more live sports and the award winning 30 for 30 library," the email to subscribers said.

The increase goes into effect Dec. 21. The price for Hulu’s SVOD product went up by $1 in October. 

Disney has increasingly been pushing its streaming services--Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and Hulu as a bundle as it attempts to challenge Netflix as the TV business pivots to direct-to customer.

“Consumers with a Hulu Plus Live TV subscription will now have the most complete offering in streaming that provides viewers with a full live and on-demand TV experience,” the company said.

The new arrangement should provide a bump to Disney Plus, whose growth has slowed. 

Disney took a beating when the most-recent quarterly report shows that Disney Plus had added just 2.1 million subscribers.

Company executives said that they expected growth to accelerate in the second half of next year as its original programming, clogged by pandemic production constraints, opens up. The company also said it planned to increase spending on content.

Disney’s loss on its direct-to-consumer streaming business rose to $630 million from $374 million a year ago for the quarter. Revenue increased 38% to $4.6 billion from $3.3 billion a year ago.

Hulu finished the quarter with 43.8 million subscribers, up from 42.8 million the previous quarter and 36.6 million a year ago. Hulu had 4 million subscribers to its Live TV Plus SVOD service, up from 3.7 million in the prior quarter, when subs dropped by 100,000.

Hulu and other vMVPDs have seen their growth slowed by continual price hikes. The streaming pay-TV services were originally designed as a lower-cost alternative to traditional cable, but given the high cost of programming, few of them are profitable according to analysts.

Hulu Plus Plus Live TV will give viewers access to 75 live TV channels and a library of 100,00 on demand movies and TV episodes, original shows and live sporting events.