With streaming services seemingly changing business plans and merging with other streamers every month or so – like the Warner Bros. with Discovery that I spoke about last week – we could be in for a tumultuous time in on-demand home entertainment, both for consumers and streamers. In this article, I would like to focus on price gouging in the streaming service industry, with Netflix being the prime culprit earlier this year. And just like how companies have followed Netflix’s forward-thinking streaming model over the past few years, many are following its rising prices.
Disney Plus announced that it will increase by $3 per month in December and Hulu will increase by $2 per month starting in October. ESPN Plus also went from $6.99 to $9.99 this month. Now, I know that all of those streamers I just mentioned (besides Netflix) are owned by the Walt Disney Company, but the trend is obvious: streaming is getting more and more expensive. I want to talk briefly about what this could mean for the streaming landscape. And that’s not even taking into account the merger between Warner Bros. and Discovery, which could lead to a more expensive version of HBO Max or Discovery Plus.
Streaming has become an affordable form of entertainment in recent years. Of course, pricing is a bigger whole by the time all monthly bills are paid, but many consumers are willing to pay for multiple streaming services because of their affordability and convenience. But that affordability might disappear, and because of that, consumers might be more eager to narrow down their portfolio of streaming services to a select few. If this consumer selectivity starts to happen, the streaming landscape could become an even more competitive space for streaming producers. Of course, much of what I say is theoretical. But as wallets tighten with general inflation, I don’t think a big unsubscribe phase is out of reach.