Original Article By Dade Hayes At Deadline.com

Softening the blow of a monthly price hike, Disney is offering subscribers to Hulu’s live TV service access to Disney+ and ESPN+ at no extra charge.

Beginning on December 21, the Hulu + Live TV package will cost $5 more each month. It will go up to $70 with the ad-supported tier of Hulu’s on-demand service and $76 with the ad-free Hulu. Notifications to subscribers have just gone out this morning.

The new bundle builds on success the company has had with its combined offering of Disney+, ESPN+ and on-demand Hulu. That trio was announced in mid-2019, just before the record-setting launch of Disney+ and has helped ESPN+ and Hulu to continue consistent growth.

Including both the live package and the on-demand service, Hulu had 43.8 million subscribers as of October 3, four million of those on Hulu + Live TV. The four-year-old Hulu + Live TV now ranks as the fifth-largest pay-TV operator in the U.S. It offers 75 live TV channels and more than 100,000 on-demand movies and TV episodes.

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The price increase follows one that was just phased in a year ago by Hulu. That move resulted in some short-term subscriber erosion, but was cited by Disney last quarter as a boon to direct-to-consumer revenue, which jumped 38% over the prior-year quarter to $4.6 billion.

Having the live TV offering has helped bolster Disney’s average revenue per subscriber. That metric for Hulu + Live TV climbed 18% to $84.89 last quarter, in large part because of monthly rate increases. While rising revenue is always a plus, there are plenty of headaches for the company from negotiating deals with programmers. Hulu has had carriage tensions with Sinclair Broadcast Group over its CBS affiliates and only recently came to terms with the NFL Network. AMC and Hallmark are also not part of the live offering.