With the explosion of streaming services like Disney+, Hulu, Netflix and others, over the past decade, we’ve seen lots of people drop traditional cable providers, with streaming platforms now becoming the most common way to access films and shows. When compared to the traditional cable bundle, streaming platforms offered a low-cost offering, with no ads, no hidden fees, no long-term contracts, convenience and original programming. But as time has passed, streaming services prices have continued to increase, and the only low-cost option is now with commercials.
But there has been another way many households have been ditching cable providers, shifting over to live TV options like YouTube TV, Hulu+Live TV, Fubo and Sling, which offer an alternative way to watch live television, over the internet and without the long-term commitments or fees of a cable.
While live TV platforms have been able to grab millions of customers, they aren’t growing, with new subscription growth being stagnant as many customers use services like Hulu+Live TV as a crutch to ween themselves off cable, before eventually just subscribing to a few different streaming services and ideally, using broadcast television if they need to watch local news.
According to some new data from Leichtman Research Group. Streaming TV providers like Hulu+Live TV have been losing subscribers each quarter. Each month, Disney reveals its updated subscriber count and its offering, Hulu+Live TV, which includes over 70 live channels, plus access to Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu. The service launched in 2017 and has slowly been able to take advantage of cable subscribers moving over. By November 2021, Hulu+Live TV had grown to 4 million subscribers, but the latest data from Disney states that Hulu+Live TV only has grown 300,000 new subscribers in the past two years. Usually averaging a loss of around 100,000 subscribers per quarter, while YouTube TV continues to grow, with Sling TV also reporting a consistent quarterly loss. And the data from LRG shows a bigger issue, with the whole streaming TV business losing subscribers, in the last two quarters, over half a million subscribers have dropped these hybrid platforms.
Another major issue for the live-streaming bundles, is they are often limited to just operating in the United States, so they don’t offer many international expansion opportunities. Disney has recently been able to take advantage of a carriage dispute with Spectrum to get new subscribers, but this was just a temporary situation.
Disney has already said that it doesn’t feel linear channels are part of its core business and has been looking at options regarding selling its linear channels in the US and India. Internationally, Disney has already shut down many of its linear channels around the world.
Both Hulu’s owners, Comcast and Disney, are currently in negotiations to determine the value of Hulu before Disney or Comcast activates its contract to force Disney to buy out Comcast’s stake in the streaming company. Disney has already started setting out plans to start combining Hulu and Disney+ in the United States later this year, to offer a more complete package, like it doesn’t internationally. But where does Hulu+Live TV sit in those plans? Will Disney sell that business on to another party or will it keep running Hulu+Live TV for a little longer?
As more people get used to watching television without live channels, it is clear that services like Hulu+Live TV aren’t going to grow any larger and many studios, including Disney, are looking at life in a non-linear world. One of the biggest issues for live TV viewers is watching sports and news, both of which Disney has already started making moves into shifting over to streaming platforms, making the need for expensive platforms like Hulu+Live TV and YouTube TV, less desirable.
What do you think Disney should do with Hulu+Live TV? Let us know on social media!
Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.