Online video startup Hulu cut the price of its Plus subscription service to $7.99 a month this morning, shaving $2.00 off the cost of monthly subscription. The service also announced a number of new devices that it will be available on, as well as a number of new promotions aimed at capturing a wider group of users. But will viewers be interested in the new, lower price?
In a blog post, Hulu CEO Jason Kilar wrote that the price cut comes as the startup seeks to provide its users “the best value possible in all of our offerings.” The new price certainly makes it more competitive with Netflix, (s NFLX) which offers a one-out DVD-by-mail and streaming service plan for $8.99. With the cut, Hulu Plus will also be priced in line with Netflix’s upcoming streaming-only plan in the U.S., which could be released in the coming months.
In addition to the lower price, Hulu announced a number of promotions aimed at getting new users to sign up. That includes one free week of Hulu Plus to all new subscribers and two free weeks for current subscribers and friends they’ve referred to the service. Through partnerships with consumer electronics manufacturers, Hulu is also offering 11 free weeks of free service to anyone who purchases a Sony Bravia connected TV or Blu-ray player, or a free month of service to users who purchase a new Roku.
In addition to Hulu’s new price and promotions, Kilar gave an update on Hulu Plus’s penetration in the connected device market. The service is now available on more than 50 million connected devices, according to Kilar, which includes Roku set-top boxes, Sony (s SNE) PlayStation 3 game consoles and mobile devices such as the Apple (s AAPL) iPhone and iPad. In the coming months, Kilar wrote that Hulu Plus will also be available on “Internet-connected Vizio, LG Electronics, and Panasonic Blu-ray players and HDTVs; TiVo (s TIVO) Premiere DVRs; the Xbox 360; (s MSFT) and Western Digital’s WD TV Live Hub Media Center and WD TV Live Plus Network Media Player, with many more mobile phones, tablets, set-top boxes, and Internet-connected devices to be announced.”
The price cut comes a day after one research firm released a survey which found that only 4 percent of Hulu viewers subscribe to its Plus service, and that 88 percent of Hulu Plus subs also have a Netflix subscription. With those findings in mind, it’s clear that Hulu might be trying to undercut its closest competition.
That said, Netflix has some key advantages. It has a deeper library of movie and TV content, for one thing, with 20,000 titles available at last count, and its consumer electronics story is more mature, based on an early lead it got in getting embedded on HDTVs, Blu-ray players, game consoles and broadband-connected set-top boxes. Netflix announced that it is now available on 200 different connected devices, with an install base of about 60 million users in total. Netflix also doesn’t show ads as part of its subscription video service, which is one practice that many Hulu Plus users have complained about.
Nevertheless, Hulu Plus still has the deepest library of pure TV content, including full seasons of new shows from ABC, (s DIS) Fox (S NWS) and NBC (s GE), as well as back seasons of many older seasons of hit shows that are no longer being produced. But whether users will be drawn by the lower price, or whether they will shun Netflix for Hulu’s subscription service, remains to be seen.
Check out our first look at Hulu Plus on Roku below:
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