Sprint adds free Hulu service to its Unlimited Freedom plan

As had been rumored this week, Hulu and Sprint today announced that Hulu’s service will now come bundled with Sprint’s unlimited wireless plan. Starting on November 17, both new and existing customers of the Sprint Unlimited Freedom plan will gain access to Hulu’s Limited Commercials service – the on-demand TV streaming service offering access to thousands of TV shows and movies, as well as Hulu’s original programming.

This is the first time that Hulu has bundled its service as a part of a wireless carrier’s plans, though it’s not the first deal that bundles Hulu with a service provided by another company. In September, Hulu and Spotify teamed up to sell discounted bundles to students, for example.

Sprint did not raise its pricing on this Unlimited Freedom plan to account for the cost of the Hulu addition, so there’s no additional cost to the consumer, the companies say.

The Sprint plan includes unlimited talk, text and data at a price of $25 per month per line, and the fifth line is free. The plan also includes a 10 GB mobile hotspot.

This pricing is valid until January 31, 2019, at which point it changes to $60 for one line, $40 for the second, and $30 per month for lines three through five, according to the fine print. With an AutoPay discount, HD video streams up to 1080p, music up to 1.5Mbps, gaming up to 8MBpbs.

The deal benefits both parties in different ways. For Sprint, it’s a way to make its plan more compelling and gives it a way to compete against other carriers with similar offers. AT&T, for example, had been offering subscribers the ability to add on the DirecTV Now streaming service for just $10 to its Unlimited Choice plan. It’s also bundling HBO for free, as result of the company’s plans to acquire Time Warner for $85.4 billion. And T-Mobile in September began bundling in Netflix subscriptions to users with two or more lines on its T-Mobile One plan.

Meanwhile, for Hulu, the bundle allows it to monetize the additional subscribers it gains through its advertising business. Hulu is also getting a cut of Sprint’s per subscriber revenue per month, as a part of the deal. The company did not disclose the terms of that agreement.

Sprint’s plan allows customers to stream an unlimited amount of data – which is helpful considering that over 80 percent of smartphone users now stream video, according to research from NPD, cited today by Sprint. But as an earlier report pointed out, Sprint’s network may not be ready to handle a sizable increase in video traffic.

Hulu recently introduced reduced lower pricing for its service as an incentive. For a limited time, customers who sign up directly for Hulu pay only $5.99 per month instead of $7.99 per month. That promotional rate is good for the first year, before the standard pricing kicks in. Assuming Sprint subscribers stick with the service for over a year, that means this bundle deal would then have a $7.99 per month value.

“We know people love watching TV on their mobile devices, so we’re making it easier than ever for Sprint customers to enjoy their favorite shows and movies on Hulu,” said Tim Connolly, senior vice president and head of distribution and partnerships at Hulu, in a statement. “This exciting partnership with Sprint gives TV fans nationwide a powerful, seamless entertainment experience that they can take with them, whenever and wherever they want.”

To sign up for Sprint’s offer on November 17, customers can visit sprint.com/hulu.

Sprint says it will soon offer subscribers an upgrade option to Hulu’s new live TV service, as well.