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Spotify Is Giving College Students (More) Free Television

Students can now get Spotify, Hulu and Showtime for $4.99 as music and media companies team up in a hot market

Spotify's New Universal Deal Allows Two-Week Paywall for New Releases

Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty

Spotify announced on Wednesday that it is throwing in a free Showtime subscription for student users — who already get a free Hulu subscription, per a bundle deal that Spotify announced last year, as well as the discounted rate of $5 a month for access to Spotify’s free tier. That means users on Spotify’s Premium for Students subscription can now access $29 worth of monthly media (Premium is regularly priced at $10 a month, Showtime at $11 and Hulu’s limited-commercial tier at $8) for one-fifth the standard cost of it.

When Spotify first teamed up with Hulu in September 2017, it seemed like simply a win-win opportunity for two companies in adjacent industries to benefit off each other’s large but still-growing audiences of young adults. With the no-cost addition of Showtime’s full library of programming — which includes popular shows like Billions, Dexter, Homeland and Shameless — the package deal gets a lot more serious. Half of millennials and Generation X-ers don’t watch traditional television, and the entertainment bundle offered by the three content powerhouses may be a way to hook them onto video and music streaming all at once.

Spotify chief premium business officer Alex Norström told The Verge that “millions of users” have already signed up because of the Hulu partnership that was struck last September, and that the streaming company is “always trying to find creative solutions to add value back to our premium customers, especially via partnerships, and our focus is on the long-term relationship with each subscriber.” Showtime’s COO Tom Christie added that, for his company, it’s a direct way to reach cord-cutting young people: “We had to figure out ways to get into a place where kids could stream us easily. There’s no other brand out there today that’s been more successful in setting up streaming business on campus than Spotify,” he said, adding that Showtime is also considering joining the Spotify-Hulu deal that’s available to non-students at $13 a month.

Competitive bundling may well be the next battle amongst music-streaming services, which, for heavy media consumers, is good news. YouTube Premium currently bundles a music-streaming service with original and ad-free video content for $12 a month, and Apple is rumored to be gearing up a TV, news and music bundle soon as well. But it’s not yet clear how sustainable such discounted packages are for the companies behind them — especially for Spotify, which, unlike those two other companies, doesn’t have a tech giant behind it to help cut deals or ease revenue losses.

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