It may be time for a consumer price index just for video streaming. Disney’s Hulu is raising its price by $1 a month, the company revealed today, just six months after Disney jacked up the price of its flagship Disney+ service by the same amount. Both price bumps followed a similar move by Netflix late last year. If this reminds you of the cable TV industry, where companies typically raised prices annually, it should.
Most of the other mass market video-streaming services—those launched by Discovery, ViacomCBS, NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia over the past 12 months or so—haven’t been around long enough to raise prices. But no doubt they will, over the next year or so. And that’s a pity because it’s likely to choke off some of the growth these services might enjoy otherwise. As Disney is demonstrating, the traditional TV firms don’t have the patience to wait for the subscriber payoff that would come from making a solid programming investment in streaming over a few years without raising prices. They’re used to the cable world, where for years they were mostly insulated by the industry’s byzantine cable channel packaging from the kind of subscriber losses that can result from price hikes.