The pricing for Hulu’s live TV service, a competitor with cable television – as well as a host of other streaming TV services like Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, DirecTV NOW, and YouTube TV – will likely be $39.99 per month, with ads and access to Hulu’s on-demand library, according to sources with knowledge of Hulu’s plans. That’s in line with Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins’ previous statement that its new service would cost “under $40” per month.
The live TV service will include access to Hulu’s on-demand content, Hulu Originals, live network broadcasts, and the broadcast networks’ on-demand content. The $39.99 price point is not yet set in stone – it could still come down, but won’t likely rise given Hulu’s earlier promises and the now fiercely competitive market for streaming TV.
Asked about the pricing, a Hulu spokesperson said the company is still in the process of building its live content package and has not finalized any pricing yet.
Cloud DVR Bundle
The live TV service will allow for a certain amount of recording and storage space in its base package – a feature that’s quickly becoming a standard offering for these types of businesses. But this recording space will not be a fully functional DVR, as it will not support fast-forwarding.
However, Hulu is considering an add-on package to its live TV service that will include an unlimited DVR with up to 200 hours of programming, as well as unlimited streams. (There may be a cap on concurrent streams outside the home, though – we’ve heard three.)
This add-on bundle will allow users to optionally upgrade their live TV service with the cloud DVR and unlimited streams, and will be priced under $20 per month, sources tell us.
Hulu is not the only service to offer a DVR, of course.
One of PlayStation Vue’s most compelling features has been its cloud DVR, which lets you record movies and shows without worrying about conflicts or storage space, as you must with DVRs in traditional cable boxes. But Vue’s DVR feature was soon adopted by rivals, including Sling, which has been steadily rolling out its own cloud DVR to subscribers, offering 50 hours of storage for $5 per month with no expiration on the recorded content.
YouTube TV then seemingly topped all its competitors when it announced a cloud DVR with unlimited storage.
But The Wall St. Journal noted there was a major caveat attached to YouTube TV’s DVR option that the others didn’t have – it will force you to watch ads on many of your DVR’d shows. If the show is available on-demand, the Journal found, viewers can’t skip ads, even if they recorded the show. Instead, YouTube TV will play back the on-demand version where fast-forwarding through ads is disabled.
The WSJ article also hinted that this DVR arrangement is something TV executives would push for in future services, but that will not be the case with Hulu’s DVR.
Thankfully, Hulu’s cloud DVR will give users the ability to fast-forward through the commercials in their recorded content – just like a cable TV DVR would.
However, though both Vue and Sling’s DVR technically support fast-forwarding, the option is not always available due to rights deals. It will be interesting to see if Hulu’s live TV service faces those same issues when it arrives.
Commercial Free Hulu On Demand + Live TV
In addition to its $39.99/mo live TV service, Hulu will continue to offer both its ad-supported ($7.99/mo) and commercial-free ($11.99/mo) subscriptions to its on-demand library of programming, which includes Hulu Originals, TV shows, and movies. (An option to buy just live TV without Hulu’s on-demand library may also become available, pricing to be determined.)
Largely, though, Hulu’s live TV is meant to be sold as a bundle of live and on-demand programming. That means current commercial-free Hulu users would pay just a few dollars more for their live TV upgrade. (The cost to upgrade from ads to no ads on Hulu’s on-demand library is $4 more per month. Applied to the live TV service, that $4 upgrade would bring the new live TV service to $43.99 per month. But prices could still change ahead of launch.)
At the higher price point, Hulu starts to sound a bit expensive. And if you’re tacking on the cloud DVR bundle, too, Hulu could cost as much as you’re paying for cable TV today – assuming you have something larger than a basic package.
But it’s important to note that Hulu’s new service is more akin to combining a Netflix subscription with a streaming service like Sling TV – as it’s offering both a sizable video on-demand library and live streamed TV under one roof. In fact, it will be the first service to do so.
And depending on your household setup, you may still save or break even with cable given that cable TV companies charge around $10-$12 per extra cable box – a number that can go even higher if those boxes have their own DVRs.
Plus, current Hulu subscribers are already paying $7.99 or $11.99 per month, so the financial pain of the live TV upgrade would not be a full $39.99 or $43.99 more – but rather, the difference between their old and new plans.
The new live TV service will also offer premium channel add-ons, starting with Showtime – a network Hulu’s subscription video on demand service has today. Showtime will continue to cost $8.99 per month more. Other networks will follow, we understand – including HBO, which will arrive shortly after the service goes live.
Hulu’s live TV service is still planned for a spring launch. Technically, the last day of spring is June 21st, so we may have awhile to wait yet.