Whenever prices are raised by a streaming service, it’s tempting to think that it would be better to go back to cable.
You may have had those thoughts a couple of weeks ago, for example, when Hulu announced a price increase of $ 5 per month for its live TV service, raising the cost to $ 70 per month as of December 21. onwards. That’s a 75 percent increase from what Hulu + Live TV cost when it launched in 2017, and while the service has more channels than it used to, and will soon include both Disney + and ESPN + in its base package, it won’t. you can choose whether to pay for those additional channels or not.
But even a cursory glance across the fence shows that cutting the cord is even better. Cable also gets more expensive, and unlike services like Hulu, you don’t get more for your money when prices go up.
A tale of two price increases
Even before the next price hike, Hulu was already bundling its on-demand service (a $ 7 per month value) with its live TV service at no additional cost, and subscribers could add Disney + and ESPN + for an additional $ 8 to the month, which increases the price. at $ 73 per month. For subscribers who already had the full Disney package, Hulu’s new pricing will save you $ 3 per month. (Customers will be automatically credited the difference, as long as both accounts use the same email address.)
By comparison, traditional TV providers are raising prices without offering any new value in return. The latest example is Comcast, which just announced its own price increases earlier this week.
What posted on RedditComcast’s “Digital Starter” basic television service cost will increase from $ 62.45 to $ 65.45 per month on January 1 in the Chicago area, but the cable giant is also increasing its expensive rates. Comcast’s television broadcast rate will increase from $ 16.20 to $ 19.75 per month, while the Chicago area regional sports rate will increase from $ 14.45 to $ 17.30 per month. Comcast’s TV connection fee, which applies to your first cable box or streaming player, is also increasing to $ 8.50, $ 1 more than before.
That adds up to a price increase of $ 10.40 per month and a total TV bill of at least $ 111 per month, with more than a third of the cost coming from unannounced rates. Meanwhile, the DVR service adds another $ 10 per month to the bill, and the cost of renting additional cable boxes is now $ 8.50 per month.
Please note that price increases will not be exactly the same in all markets. Phillip Swann’s Notes that Comcast is not increasing regional sports rates in Connecticut and parts of New Jersey, where it recently eliminated MSG Networks. Instead, Multichannel news reports That single New Hampshire market will see television broadcast rates rise by $ 5, to a staggering $ 24.95 per month.
However, the overall upward trend is clear and extends to providers beyond Comcast. Dish Network prices too jumped $ 5 per month usually mid-November, and while other vendors haven’t announced price increases for the new year yet, don’t be surprised if they do; Charter and DirecTV announced rate increases at the end of 2020, just like they did a year before. The result will be higher prices for the TV service that is only declining in value, especially as the best shows move to independent streaming services (Disney + and Hulu among them).
The dangers of package bloat
None of which is to say that Hulu’s price hike is big news. Every time a streaming service adds more channels or new features, it can lead to even more price increases down the road. Disney has already raised individual prices for Disney +, Huluand ESPN + this year, and if it continues to do so in the future, the Hulu + Live TV subscriber bill could eventually expire.
I’m also concerned that the mandatory bundle of streaming services represents a nasty new chapter in the streaming wars, in which pay-TV bundles are loaded with even more bloat. Comcast already tried to force its Peacock Premium service onto YouTube TV in September, nearly causing a blackout of NBC channels in the process. Fortunately, NBC relented on that case, and the companies reached a trucking deal without incident, but I’m not sure what would happen if Disney tried the same tactics with its own streaming services. Faced with the prospect of losing ESPN, ABC, FX, and other Disney-owned cable channels, would YouTube have the courage to refuse?
Yet in the end, competition and consumer choice remain powerful forces in cable cutting and will likely provide a countermeasure against the worst instincts in the television industry. If you don’t like Hulu’s price hike, you still have several other live TV services to choose from, including YouTube TV, FuboTV, Sling TV, and Philo. And if those options get too expensive, you can always ditch them in favor of cheaper freelance services.
However, go back to the wire and switch to anything else becomes much more difficult.
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