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The Upside to Hulu's Fall Price Hike

By Dustin Rowles | TV | August 10, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | August 10, 2023 |


The television content spigot typically dries up somewhat in August, ahead of the fall season (which may itself dry up without writers or actors to produce more television), but this month, our friend Hulu has been a surprising savior. I can watch Futurama on Monday nights, Only Murders in the Building and Justified: City Primeval on Tuesday nights, Reservation Dogs on Wednesday nights, and What We Do in the Shadows on Thursday nights. In June, Hulu also offered the best show of the summer, The Bear, another season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, 10 more episodes of the watchable How I Met Your Father, and a decent new series in Class of ‘09.

Granted, some of those series are branded FX and some are branded Hulu, but it hardly matters because both are available on Hulu, in addition to a sizable content library, as well as next-day programming from Fox and ABC. For that reason alone, Hulu is practically essential for cord-cutters.

Starting in October, it’s going to be much more expensive. On October 6th, the price of Hulu will shoot up to $18 a month for the ad-free version. Disney+, meanwhile, will cost $14 a month. That’s the bad news. The good news is, the combination of the two streamers will not cost $32 — you’ll be able to get an ad-free Duo Premium bundle for $20.

Would I pay $18 for Hulu? Yes. Would I pay $14 for Disney+? Absolutely not. Would I pay $18 for Hulu and $2 for Disney+? Sure. That bundle is likely designed to ease us all into a future where Hulu and Disney+ merge into one streamer.

My big concern, however, is that the eventual merger will sideline Hulu. That it would be absorbed and forgotten, like what is slowly happening to Showtime over on Paramount+. That would be a huge shame because Hulu/FX continues to provide some of the best television content out there. The thought of a future in which I would have to rely on Disney+ and Netflix for most of my content needs drives me into existential despair.

So, while the price hike is unfortunate (although, apparently I already pay at least $20 for ad-free Hulu, Disney+, and a useless ESPN+), it does mean that Disney is interested in using that money to continue making content for Hulu. In his earnings report yesterday, Bob Iger said as much. “We need to keep in mind the need for content to fuel our (direct-to-consumer) businesses, notably Hulu. So anything that would be done would be with an eye to the content to fuel our growth business, and that is streaming.”

In other words, Disney understands that linear television is dying and that the future is streaming, and in order to grow the streaming business, it will have to invest in content, which means raising prices to pay for that content, which will hopefully include better pay for writers and actors.

That said, when the run of new originals they are airing right now runs out, I’m not sure what they have in the September/October pipeline when the price hikes set in. There is a series called The Other Black Girl based on Zakiya Dalila Harris’ novel (co-written by her and Rashida Jones) coming in September, as well as the second season of Welcome to Wrexham, but that’s it until A Murder at the End of the World in November.

Iger is going to need a lot more “content to fuel his growth business” if he expects subscribers to shell out $20 a month. For that, he’s going to need to bring the actors and writers back ASAP. Once they are back, however, at least Disney is committed to ramping up content on Hulu, which will also mean — in the short term — another season of Fargo, as well as an Alien TV series, both from Noah Hawley.

In the meantime, Iger also warned the company will also soon start cracking down on password sharing.