Amid the myriad of discounts that music-streaming services offer to entice new users (one month free! six months free!), Spotify’s decision in 2017 to team up with video-streaming service Hulu to deliver bundled student subscriptions was unusual because it was one of the first times that two disparate entertainment services had come together. Now that deal stands out even further: Starting Tuesday, all Spotify subscribers in the U.S. will receive free Hulu subscriptions.
The Swedish music-streaming service made the unexpected announcement via blog post that all U.S. users on the $9.99-a-month premium tier, both new and existing, will receive free subscriptions to the ad-supported tier of Hulu, which normally costs $5.99 a month (and used to be $7.99 before Hulu tweaked its pricing model a few weeks ago). Anyone currently paying for a $12.99 Spotify-and-Hulu bundle will see their fees drop down to the normal $9.99 a well. The joint offering — which current premium users can activate by visiting the “Your Services” page in their accounts — makes available Hulu’s catalog of 85,000 television episodes, including those from popular series like The Handmaid’s Tale and Pen15, to approximately 20 million U.S. Spotify subscribers.
“Today is the first time that we’re offering a Hulu plan to the masses as part of their $9.99 Spotify Premium subscription,” Marc Hazan, Spotify’s global head of premium business development, said in a press release. “As we push towards making Spotify Premium a gateway to a bigger world of entertainment, we’re fully committed to finding new ways to enhance the overall experience for our Premium users and this is just the beginning.” In a blog post, the Swedish music-streaming service further stressed its apparent goodwill: “Devour Hulu’s library of hit TV series and films, current shows from every major U.S. broadcast network, and acclaimed Hulu Originals to your heart’s desire at no extra charge,” it said. “That’s right, you are getting Hulu on us.”
So — what’s the catch? For users, there isn’t much of one. While Spotify did not immediately respond to request for comment, the streaming service’s choice to layer on a video subscription for free is likely fueled by continued cutthroat competition in the music-streaming space, as several of its rivals build out entertainment offerings on top of music. YouTube Music has the might of YouTube’s video platform; Apple has been working on an expensive video subscription product for months that many music-industry analysts expect will be make for a killer combo with Apple Music. (Coincidentally, Apple announced on Monday afternoon that it will be holding a video-related press event on March 25th.)
Earlier this year when announcing the acquisition of two podcast companies, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said he wants the company to occupy “the center of the global audio economy.” The deal with Hulu allows Spotify to keep pace with its peers in adjacent economies — Spotify did make its own foray into video once, but it quickly turned tail — while focusing its efforts on music and podcasting. And it gives Hulu millions of new users, a significant portion of whom are likely to consider upgrading to fee-bearing, ad-free tiers just like they did on Spotify’s service.
Spotify’s offer to enroll in the Hulu bundle is open until June 10th, 2019, per the blog post, “or while supplies last.”