As Netflix hikes its base price to $13, Hulu has decided to make a keen business move and slash their own. Starting February 26, Hulu’s lowest-tier ad-supported service will drop from $7.99 to $5.99. This won’t affect their ad-free subscription of $11.99, and their live TV plan will jump to $44.99 over $39.99. The change in live TV pricing isn’t related to the cut in the baseline, though, as it’s more attached to a deal with Discovery Inc. and infrastructure improvements.
But who cares about or has the time to watch live TV, anyway? The real meat-and-potatoes here is the cut in its cheapest plan. The number of advertisements seen isn’t going to change (it’s relatively few per episode, though they will play the same ones over and over and over again), and the price is among the lowest in the streaming space for arguably the best service of the bunch.
People have been either been down on Hulu or outright forgetting about it for years, and though that’s changed recently with series like The Handmaid’s Tale earning it some much needed cred, it hasn’t changed nearly enough. Hulu is really great for the same reason Netflix used to be really great.
While Netflix has been fighting this uphill battle to essentially create all the films and series that people talk and care about, Hulu is sticking to a simpler approach by aggregating the shows from other networks that people already know about and want to watch. Hulu’s the go-to for watching my day-old Bob’s Burgers and checking out that weird show where famous people sing in furry costumes, and the one who does the worst is shamed into revealing themselves.
Flipping through shows on Hulu and seeing series I already know I want to watch is infinitely more useful to me than browsing Netflix and finding shows that are sort of like other shows I watch or want to watch and then trying to actually work up enough interest to watch them. It just feels like so much noise. I spend more time browsing than watching anything. I’m dangerously close to paying Netflix $13 a month just to window shop.
Before Orange is the New Black and Stranger Things, I discovered so many movies that would have never been so much as blips on my radar if it weren’t for Netflix. My obsession with low-budget horror of the 70’s was sparked by a chance encounter with a film called The Baby one bored evening. Then, I used the service to see Girly and pour through Jean Rollin’s work. Arguably, most of my (admittedly horrible) taste in film was shaped and structured by having early access to Netflix. Just the other day I had a hankering to watch a Korean killer-boar movie called Chaw, and I checked Netflix to see if the service still carried it. Of course not, but they were willing to suggest to me a dozen movies and shows sort of like Chaw. That’s most of what the service is now, just a bunch of cobbled clones of the good stuff they used to carry. It’s sad.
Hulu, on the other hand, will always have a seemingly bottomless supply of Cutthroat Kitchen, and boy howdy can I not get enough of Cutthroat Kitchen.