I’ve been vocal about this for some time, especially on social media, and even engaged Hulu on Twitter once, asking why there isn’t an ad-free option for those of us who want to avoid ads entirely – especially if they’re to compete with the likes of dominant players Netflix and Amazon streaming services, which are indeed entirely commercial-free. One response I received from Hulu was that they were considering all options.
I actually canceled my Hulu account months ago, because it just didn’t make sense to me to be paying essentially the same amount of money I’m paying other services (that are commercial-free), and be forced to watch ads. Will today’s news make me return to Hulu? I can’t say just yet. They’ll have to lure me back with content I can’t get anywhere else.
Announced this morning, Hulu is now offering a commercial-free option to subscribers. Per the press release, viewers now have the choice to watch Hulu commercial free for $11.99 per month or with limited commercials for $7.99 per month. Current Hulu subscribers will maintain their existing subscription, but will have the choice to switch to the commercial-free option at any time for an additional $4 per month.
“At Hulu, we pride ourselves on listening to our customers and giving them the best possible experience,” said Mike Hopkins, CEO, Hulu. “Many of our customers have asked us for a commercial free option, and so today we are excited to introduce just that. Providing more choice for consumers is fundamental to the Hulu experience, in addition to an array of choices in content and devices, our customers can now choose to watch with or without commercials.”
Over the last year Hulu has aggressively expanded its content lineup. Most recently, Hulu announced a landmark, multi-year agreement with EPIX that will bring premium and hit films from Lionsgate, MGM and Paramount to Hulu for the first time. Hulu also signed groundbreaking licensing deals with networks including AMC, FX and Turner, and acquired the exclusive subscription streaming rights to full libraries of hit broadcast and cable shows including “Seinfeld,” “Empire,” “Fargo,” “South Park,” “CSI,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Nashville,” “Deadliest Catch,” “The Last Ship” and more.
Earlier this year, Hulu also became the only subscription video on-demand service to offer the SHOWTIME premium service as an add-on directly to subscribers for an additional $8.99 per month.
In addition, Hulu has made a a lot of investment in its original programming and has greenlit a slate of originals, including the event series “11/22/63” from Stephen King and J.J. Abrams starring James Franco; comedy series “Difficult People” produced by Amy Poehler with stars Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner; “Casual,” a comedy series from director Jason Reitman; “The Way”, a drama series starring Aaron Paul and Michelle Monaghan from Jason Katims; the first long-form project from Freddie Wong and the RocketJump team; and season four of the critically-acclaimed comedy “The Mindy Project,” starring Mindy Kaling.
In 2015, the company announced it had grown to nearly 9 million US subscribers, an overall 50% growth year over year.
A problem with its pricing is that it’s not entirely competitive; a new Netflix streaming account today (which, again, is commercial-free) cost $7.99 (although Netflix has said it will raise that figure eventually); and Amazon Prime cost $99 a year, or just over $8 a month. A commercial-free Hulu at $11.99 a month (even if it’s only $4 dollars more a month) just isn’t as attractive – especially to a new user who doesn’t have any of the streaming services, and is considering signing up with one or two of them.
If you aren’t already a Hulu customer, will today’s news get you to become one?