As "hot strike summer" turns to "temperate strike fall," streaming services' effort to squeeze every last penny from customers continues. On October 12, the price of Disney+ and Hulu's ad-free plans will rise significantly for U.S. subscribers, with Disney+ increasing to $13.99/month (up from $10.99) and Hulu to $17.99/month (from $14.99).
Disney's latest round of price hikes are intended to push customers toward ad-supported plans — priced at $7.99/month each — which are notably unaffected by the increase. Though these plans bring in less money in subscriber fees, they have the potential to generate additional revenue from advertisers, and are thus seen as more lucrative options for media companies concerned with the bottom line.
Of course, the timing of Disney's subscription increase isn't lost on those familiar with the habits of greedy CEOs. As Late Night With Seth Meyers writer Mike Scollins noted on Twitter/X, encouraging subscribers to switch to ad-supported tiers allows streamers to "collect ad revenue like traditional TV without having to pay residuals to writers and actors like traditional TV."
Streaming residuals are a major point of contention amid the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA Strikes. In late August, the Writers Guild offered a detailed update on negotiations, revealing that the studios and streamers have attempted to punt the discussion about viewership-based residuals to 2026, rather than address the union's valid and pressing concerns about lack of transparency and appropriate compensation.
Disney isn't the only company that has attempted to juice profits during the Hollywood strikes. In June, Paramount+ dropped its $9.99/month tier (which did not include Showtime) and increased the price of its ad-supported tier, leaving subscribers with just two options to choose from: a $5.99/month ad-supported Paramount+ Essential plan, or the rebranded $11.99/month Paramount+ with Showtime tier.
The following month, Netflix abruptly shut down its basic, ad-free plan, priced at $9.99/month, creating a large gap between the $6.99/month, Standard with Ads option and the next tier, which runs $15.49/month. August brought yet another price hike, this time on Peacock: The ad-supported Premium plan increased $1 to $5.99/month, while the ad-free Premium Plus package rose to $11.99/month, a $2 increase.
Unfortunately, all signs point to even more price increases in the months ahead — Paramount CEO Bob Bakish even confirmed as much in a recent interview. Knowing how these companies operate, they'll probably jump at the chance to blame future hikes on the writers and actors who are still fighting for a fair contract.
Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.