It’s been more than a year since the last time we refreshed the timeline of price increases for Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, Sling TV and all the other major virtual MVPDs.
During that time, T-Mobile launched and shut down its TVision streaming service, AT&T effectively killed AT&T TV Now before rolling it into AT&T TV and spinning it off, and YouTube TV picked fights with Roku and NBCUniversal.
After Hulu + Live TV last week surprisingly raised its rates to give subscribers Disney+ and ESPN+ whether they want them or not, it was time once again to look back on more than three years of vMVPD highs and lows.
YouTube TV adds Turner networks – including TNT, TBS, CNN, truTV, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim – to its channel lineup, along with sports channels like NBA TV and MLB Network. But the expanded channel guide comes with expanded prices, up from $35 to $40 per month.
Sling TV raises the price of its Orange channel package to $25 per month, matching the pricing already in place for its Blue channel package. Former Sling TV President Warren Schlichting explained the reasoning succinctly: “Programming fees … only go in one direction, and that’s up!”
PlayStation Vue raises the cost of all its plans by $5 per month, bringing the cost of its base plan to $45 per month, and its top tier to $80 per month. The company says the price hikes are necessary to “keep pace with rising business costs and enable us to continue offering a better way to watch the best in live sports, entertainment, and news.”
DirecTV Now raises prices for its service tiers by $5 per month, increasing the cost of base “Live a Little” package to $40 and top-end “Gotta Have It” tier to $75. AT&T said the price hike was intended to bring DirecTV Now in line with the market, which starts at $40 per month.
FuboTV raises prices by $10 per month for its legacy subscribers, bringing the price tag up to $45 per month. “This is in line with the fee already charged to new users, and simply means all Fubo package subscribers will pay the same monthly price,” said the company in a statement.
Hulu surprises by lowering the price of its ad-supported streaming service to $5.99 per month, but at the same time increases its live TV service by $5, bringing the cost up to $45 per month. While competitors like YouTube TV grandfathered in existing customers at the old rate before raising its price to $40 per month in March 2018, Hulu rolls out the increased price for all of its live TV subscribers.
DirecTV Now keeps its $40-to-$65-per-month packages for existing subscribers, but rolls out redesigned packages for new subscribers. DirecTV Now Plus (priced at $50/month) and Max (priced at $70/month) both include “dozens of live TV channels, including local ones, and an extensive on-demand library of great movies and TV shows,” along with HBO. Max throws in more live sports channels, video-on-demand choices and Cinemax on top of that.
Shortly after raising prices for legacy subscribers, FuboTV increases the cost of all its service tiers by $10, taking its base package up to $55 per month. The company said the increases were due to the addition of channels including AMC, Cartoon Network, CNN, TBS and TNT, and the imminent arrival of Viacom channels including Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. Months later, FuboTV also added Discovery networks including Discovery Channel and TLC.
YouTube TV increases prices by $10, bringing its base service cost up to $50 per month. The company raises prices to $55 per month for subscribers who are billed through Apple. The price hike follows YouTube TV’s addition of Discovery Inc’s channels and local feeds from all of the four largest broadcasters in more than 90% of the markets where YouTube TV is available.
Philo decides that beginning May 6, it will stop selling its $16-per-month channel package to new subscribers, leaving only its $20-per-month package. Philo CEO Andrew McCollum says that although his company didn’t want to raise prices like its competitors, “consolidating into a single $20 package was the best way for us to maintain the same offering we have today without raising prices for everyone, or having to cut back in places we strive to excel, like our customer support.”
PlayStation Vue raises prices by $5, bringing the cost of its base plan to $50 per month and its top tier to $85 per month. The company says the price hike was needed to stay on top of rising programming costs. “With costs rising each year for content, we constantly evaluate each deal to ensure we continue to deliver the content you want while considering the overall value of each package. After reviewing this, we have made the decision to raise the price of all of our multi-channel plans by $5,” the company said in a statement.
AT&T TV Now – formerly DirecTV Now – raises prices for its streaming television service for the second time in 2019. Variety confirmed the increase, which required subscribers to AT&T TV Now’s Plus package to pay $65 per month, up from $50. “We’re adjusting our pricing to reflect the cost to deliver content to our customers,” an AT&T spokesperson told Variety. “Customers can contact us at any time to review their plans or make account changes.”
Hulu + Live TV raises the price of its base package by $10, bringing the cost up to $54.99 per month. The price change kicked in on December 18. “Price changes are never easy to stomach, and we know that many people don’t watch live television year-round, so we’ve made it easy for Hulu subscribers to switch back and forth between our plans to best suit their needs,” Hulu said in a blog post.
Sling TV, Dish Network’s live streaming TV service, raises its monthly rates by $5 after adding new channels including Fox News and MSNBC. Sling Orange and Sling Blue are now each $30 per month; subscriptions to a bundle of both Sling Orange and Sling Blue are now $45 per month. Sports Extra is now $15 per month with Sling Orange and Sling Blue; Sports Extra remains $10 as an add-on to Sling Orange or Sling Blue. The 4 Extras Deal is now $12 per month, and the Total TV Deal is now $25 per month with Sling Orange + Sling Blue. Total TV Deal remains $20 per month as an add-on to either Sling Orang or Sling Blue.
Perhaps sensing how bad 2020 was going to get, Sony announced in October 2019 that it will be shutting down PlayStation Vue, effectively lowering its price to $0/month. John Kodera, deputy president of Sony Interactive Entertainment, blamed the imminent closure on increasing competition and rising costs. “We are very proud of what PlayStation Vue was able to accomplish. We had ambitious goals for how our service could change how people watch TV, showcasing PlayStation’s ability to innovate in a brand-new category within the Pay TV industry. We want to thank all of our customers, some of whom have been with us since PlayStation Vue’s launch in 2015.”
After raising its monthly rate to $65/month in 2019, AT&T brings the cost of AT&T TV Now’s Plus package back down to $55/month. The price change came shortly before the company launched HBO Max, its expanded streaming video service. Before, both the AT&T TV Now Plus and Max plans included HBO, but now only Max includes HBO Max.
YouTube TV raises its monthly price from $50 to $65 and adding eight Viacom channels including Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, BET and MTV. This new price takes effect today for new members. Existing subscribers will see these changes reflected in their subsequent billing cycle on or after July 30. “We don’t take these decisions lightly, and realize how hard this is for our members. That said, this new price reflects the rising cost of content and we also believe it reflects the complete value of YouTube TV, from our breadth of content to the features that are changing how we watch live TV,” the company wrote in a blog post.
FuboTV joins a busy week for price increases while simultaneously losing TBS, TNT and other WarnerMedia channels after no new carriage agreement could be reached. The company is increasing the price of its Family bundle from $60/month to $65/month. Existing Standard plan subscribers (which currently pay $55/month) will be automatically moved over to the Family plan. They can opt out but if they do, they will begin paying $60/month for their Standard plan.
T-Mobile introduces its revamped TVision service, featuring TVision Live, a $40/month package that includes 100 hours of cloud DVR storage, access to three simultaneously streams and channels including ABC, ESPN, NBC, Fox, TBS, CNN, FS1, FX, TNT, Disney Channel, Fox News and more. The company also launches TVision Vibe, a $10/month package focused on general entertainment channels, and TVision Hub, a $50 Android TV dongle that comes with a Google Assistant-powered voice remote. After TVision’s high-profile arrival, it will quickly become clear that T-Mobile gravely miscalculated with its vMVPD.
Almost exactly one year after its previous price hike, Hulu + Live TV introduces another $10 per month increase to take its monthly rate up to $64.99—or $70.99 for Hulu (No Ads). The decision comes while the service is riding high after adding 700,000 subscribers during the third quarter of 2020, which took its total up to 4.1 million. After several consecutive quarters of losses, Hulu one year later manages to get its subscriber total back up to the 4 million mark.
Sling TV raises prices by $5 per month for new subscribers, setting rates at $35 per month for the Sling Orange or Sling Blue packages, or $50 per month for both. However, thanks to a one-year price guarantee instituted in 2020, existing customer remain unaffected for the time being. Michael Schwimmer, group president at Sling TV, blamed the price hike on the television networks, who “keep charging us more, but we fight hard to get the best deal for our customers. The proof of our commitment is apparent, as Sling TV is still the best deal in the market, keeping our prices much lower than cable and other live streaming services.”
Right around the same time that AT&T decides to shut down AT&T TV Now to new subscribers and eventually roll the service (formerly known as DirecTV Now) into AT&T TV, it instituted a $10/month price increase for its base streaming tier, taking it up to $69.99/month. The pricing shifts came as AT&T was pursuing a deal to spin off DirecTV, U-verse and AT&T TV into a new combined company (DirecTV) run by TPG Capital, a deal that closed in August 2021.
After an extremely short life, fraught with pushback from programmers and financial woes for technology partners, T-Mobile’s virtual MVPD, TVision, shutters both of its service tiers. Instead, T-Mobile turns to partners YouTube TV and Philo as streaming TV alternatives for its wireless subscribers. “This shift may surprise some given last year’s TVision streaming services launch. But innovation seldom follows a straight line,” said CEO Mike Sievert. “Since launching the TVision initiative, we’ve learned a lot about the TV industry, about streaming products, and of course, about TV customers. We also saw trends that made us take a fresh look at how to best do in video what we always do: put customers first.”
After holding off for more than three years, Philo finally caves and raises its prices by $5 per month to $25. However, the company pledges that all subscribers who join Philo before June 8 will get to keep the $20/month rate. Philo CEO Andrew McCollum explained that the price increase is due to fee increases from content partners along with platform and billing partner costs. “We are relentless in our focus on keeping our price low, so we do everything we can to reduce our overhead while managing these increasing costs. Even with those efforts, we can't offset these rising costs indefinitely, and this change reflects that reality.”
Sadly, by their very nature, one-year price guarantees can’t last forever.
YouTube TV has kept its virtual MVPD priced at $65 per month for over a year now – though it came dangerously close to shaving $10 off the rate amid a carriage dispute with NBCUniversal. However, customers wanting 4K resolution content from the service were informed over the summer that it would cost an extra $20 per month. In addition to 4K sports from NBC and ESPN along with on-demand content from FX, Discovery and Tastemade, the add-on includes downloads for offline viewing and unlimited streams on home Wi-Fi.
For the third year in a row, November heralds in a price increase for Hulu + Live TV. This time, the virtual MVPD will institute a $5 per month increase beginning Dec. 21, which will bring its rates up to $69.99 for Hulu + Live TV and $74.99 for Hulu (No Ads) + Live TV.