January 23, 2018
Hulu with Live TV has reached about 450,000 paid subscribers, while YouTube TV now has more than 300,000, according to sources familiar with the private figures. Neither service has reached the success of leading live-streaming services such as Dish’s Sling TV (more than 2 million subscribers) and AT&T’s DirecTV Now (1 million subscribers), but Hulu and YouTube only launched their offerings last year. Sling TV is the oldest, having launched in 2015, and DirecTV Now experienced recent growth after promotional deals offered free HBO and the option to add the service to mobile plans for $10 a month.
“Over-the-top providers of live content are gauging how many American households have an appetite for live online video as an alternative to traditional cable packages,” reports CNBC. “YouTube TV costs $35 a month, and Hulu with Live TV costs $39.99 per month, with both offering viewers a combination of live sports, news and events from a host of networks. Hulu’s product also includes its standard offerings of video on demand.”
BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield suggests that the new services face challenges such as competition with VOD services like Netflix and Amazon, and a model that enables customers to easily cancel.
“If you don’t care about live sports, the original Hulu product is awesome,” said Greenfield. “You can get all of the programming you want for more than $30 less. And YouTube is free. It actually shows you how poor the value proportion is for live TV.”
Hulu’s $8-per-month SVOD service, which primarily competes with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video with its library of movies and TV shows, currently has 17+ million paying customers.
Meanwhile, a growing number of online live TV services — including Sony’s PlayStation Vue, entertainment-based Philo, and sports-focused fuboTV — are taking on traditional cable operators.
It’s also worth noting that YouTube TV is still rolling out its apps across additional platforms and may add social components to attract a younger audience, while Hulu recently announced plans to personalize suggestions, introduce a live TV guide, integrate with Facebook and Instagram, add the ability for users to share recommendation lists with friends, and more.
“When these product plans are realized on YouTube and Hulu, both will have a better value proposition beyond over-the-top TV alone,” suggests TechCrunch. “They could turn TV watching into a social experience of its own, and new way to network online. This, in turn, could spur more subscriber growth, if streaming TV audiences find the new features compelling.”