Many major streaming companies have announced price increases for nearly every premium plan this year, leaving subscribers seething and wondering if the price hikes are related to the writers and actors strikes.
The ad-free tiers of Hulu and Disney+ will cost an extra $3 per month starting on October 12, the companies said, and while Peacock, owned by TODAY's parent company NBCUniversal, has already raised the price of its subscription plans by as much as $2.
Netflix is also looking into charging more for its ad-free service after the actors strike ends, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Netflix declined to comment to NBC News.
Industry experts said the move to increase prices as the writers' strike comes to an end is not surprising.
"These price hikes are really about taking these services that are losing a lot of money and trying to make them profitable," Alex Weprin, a media business writer for The Hollywood Reporter, said on TODAY. "And the fact that it coincides with the end of the strikes... it’s not a coincidence."
The increase in prices come as streaming companies and major Hollywood studios are bargaining with SAG-AFTRA, the union that represents about 160,000 people in the entertainment industry, including actors, recording artists, radio personalities and other media professionals, to reach a deal to end the actors strike, which has been ongoing since July.
Experts have said the ongoing actors strike, and recently-ended writers strike, could cost Hollywood hundreds of millions of dollars, and some customers feel they are having to foot the bill.
“My immediate reaction is anger because it’s like how much more can you possibly ask from us?" streaming subscriber Gabriella Santos asked on TODAY.
Higher prices may be just the first change coming to some streaming companies. Disney CEO Bob Iger said during an earnings call in August that the company, which owns Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN, is working to address the issue of password sharing in 2024.
Netflix changed its policies earlier this year to prevent password sharing, which it said has helped them gain nearly six million new subscribers.
TODAY's Joe Fryer said customers can save on streaming services by looking into bundle packages with their cellphone or internet provider, or downgrading to a lower tier of the streaming service, as many of the price hikes affect premium tiers.