Streaming services were supposed to save us from the high prices of cable and satellite subscriptions, but Hulu did its part to blur the lines between the two this week.
The Disney-owned streaming giant announced Friday that Hulu + Live TV would get a $10 price increase to a new base rate of $54.99 per month. That will still get you the same things it always has, such as access to more than 60 channels as well as Hulu’s existing on-demand library, but you’ll pay more for it than you did before starting Dec. 18.
Hulu’s press release said the new price “reflects the substantial value” of the service, but acknowledged that will probably not be enough for some consumers. You can still opt in and out of the Live TV part anytime you want, so if you need to dip in and out for any reason, Hulu won’t stop you.
Still, this is the latest development in what has been a pretty dark year for online alternatives to cable packages. YouTube TV increased its base price to $50 per month in April, making that service substantially less attractive than it was before. In addition, PlayStation Vue is going to shut down entirely in January, leaving the space without one of its bigger-name players.
At this point, Microsoft’s Sling service looks like one of the best values, with plans as low as $25 per month. They aren’t quite as comprehensive in their offerings, but cheap is cheap.
All of this begs the question: Why bother? If these cord-cutting options are going to steadily increase in price (or decrease in value, depending on how you look at it), it’s time to start thinking about going back to the world of cable. Low-level cable packages from companies like Cox and Optimum are comparable in price and aren’t bound to an internet connection.
Or, more realistically, you could do neither and find another way to watch anything you need to see live. You can survive with some combination of an antenna for network TV and logins for other services. There are also less … legitimate options on the table, but we can’t officially endorse those.
Regardless of which direction you decide to go in, it’s fair to say that streaming didn’t liberate us from cable after all.