It’s no secret that Disney continues to jack up its rates for streaming services, particularly Hulu and ESPN+. Hulu + Live TV was initially offered at $39.99 in 2017, but under Disney’s control it has ballooned up to almost double that at $74.99 per month beginning in December 2022.
Now Disney is being sued by a group of YouTube TV consumers who claim that the company’s raising of its own rates and business dealings with competitors have inflated linear TV prices for everybody.
According to the suit: “Together, these carriage agreement mandates — which now cover all of Disney’s leading competitors in the SLPTV Market — allow Disney to use ESPN and Hulu to set a price floor in the SLPTV Market and to inflate prices marketwide by raising the prices of its own products. And this is exactly what Disney has done in the past three years, since it took operational control of Hulu.
“Since Disney acquired operational control over Hulu in May 2019,” the complaint adds, “prices across the SLPTV Market, including for YouTube TV, have doubled. This dramatic, marketwide price inflation has been led by Disney’s own price hikes for Hulu + Live TV, and has directly tracked Disney’s competitor-by-competitor negotiation of new SLPTV carriage agreements over this time period.”
The class-action complaint was filed this week in U.S. District Court in San Francisco (here) and claims that Disney’s control of both ESPN and Hulu has allowed the conglomerate to “inflate prices marketwise by raising the prices of its own products” and also “set a price floor.”
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