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Hulu Drops Price of Entry-Level Plan to $5.99 Monthly for Limited Time

Hulu is now offering its cheapest streaming plan, which includes commercials, for $5.99 per month for the first year — a short-term promotion aimed at luring new subs with the kickoff of the fall television and Hulu’s expanded TV library lineup.

The move comes, coincidentally, as Netflix last week raised prices on its standard plan (to $10.99 per month) and the premium four-stream plan (to $13.99 per month) in the U.S. The Netflix “basic” one-stream, non-HD plan remains unchanged at $7.99.

Hulu’s special offer for the limited-commercials plan is available through Jan. 9, 2018, only to new or returning Hulu subs. After one year, the regular $7.99 monthly price will kick in. Hulu offers a commercial-free option for $12 per month, and a live TV service (which includes access to original series like Emmy-winning “The Handmaid’s Tale” and on-demand titles) for $40 monthly.

A Hulu rep said the company’s new promo is intended to draft off the fall 2017 TV season. Hulu is currently running an ad campaign featuring Anna Kendrick (the “Pitch Perfect” movies) as part of its marketing push.

As it looks for another original series on the order of “Handmaid’s Tale” — so far its only breakout hit — Hulu has inked deals to bring thousands of current and older TV shows to the platform to armor-up in its battle with rivals Netflix and Amazon Prime. That included a mammoth deal with 20th Century Fox for nearly 3,000 episodes from 26 recent and older comedy and drama series to the streaming service, including every episode of shows including “How I Met Your Mother,” “Burn Notice,” “Bones” “Glee,” “M*A*S*H” and “NYPD Blue” library. In addition, Hulu has licensed exclusive rights to series including NBC’s “Will & Grace” and “30 Rock”; Fox’s “Black-ish”; and ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat.”

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Hulu also has reincarnated ABC’s “TGIF” lineup from the 1990s, licensing a batch of shows comprising more than 1,200 episodes total. Those include original “Full House,” “Family Matters,” “Step By Step,” “Perfect Strangers,” “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper,” “Boy Meets World” and “Dinosaurs.”

Hulu quietly introduced the $5.99 monthly offer for the limited-ads plan a little more than two weeks ago (on Sept. 21), and began sending marketing emails to previous subscribers starting late last week about the offer.

The company launched a similar offer a year ago, beginning in early October 2016 and running through mid-November, for the entry-level tier. Hulu ended its free, ad-supported version of the service in August 2016, entering into a distribution pact with Yahoo for free access to some shows.

Separately, earlier last month Hulu and Spotify rolled out a bundle priced at $4.99 per month for college students in the U.S. that includes access to Spotify Premium and Hulu’s limited-commercials SVOD service. The companies say they’re working on other bundle offers for a “broader market.”

Hulu is owned by Disney, Comcast and 21st Century Fox — which each hold 30% stakes — and Time Warner, which owns a 10% stake. The company last disclosed the size of its subscriber base in May 2016, when it said it had 12 million paying customers. This past May, Hulu said it had 47 million total unique viewers (32 million of whom were on the ad-supported service).

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