illustration of the number five, representing the five subscription business topics for this column, Five-on-Friday

Five on Friday: Eating, Expanding and Evolving

Featuring Hulu, Uber Eats, Fox Nation, HBO Max and The Athletic

This week’s edition of Five on Friday focuses on eating, expanding and evolving. In a new partnership, Hulu is teaming up with Uber who is giving eligible Hulu subscribers six months of a free Uber Eats Pass, and Amazon offers a whole new way to give gifts. Also, Fox Nation offers a discount to first responders, HBO Max expands into Europe and, in its latest evolution, The Athletic is looking for a buyer.

Hulu Teams Up with Uber Eats

Hulu recently announced a partnership with Uber to give eligible Hulu subscribers six months of Uber Eats Pass for free. This marks the first time that Uber has an extended a membership offering to a streaming company, Hulu said in a September 28, 2021 press release.

The two companies have partnered up to offer Hulu subscribers in good standing who are also new to Uber Eats Pass, six months of the food service. This offers a $0 delivery fee on orders over $15, as well as 5% off eligible orders. This deal also gives a members-only perk of 10% off their first three qualifying orders each month. Eligible Hulu subscribers will receive an email with instructions directing them to sign up for the offer. Subscribers who don’t get an email can visit their collaboration website. They will be asked to log in with their Hulu credentials, and be able to sign up if they are eligible.

The offer can be redeemed between September 28, 2021 and January 10, 2022. It is not exclusive to any Hulu tier, so those on the ad-supported, premium ad-free tier, or the Hulu + Live TV subscription plan will be able to access the Uber Eats Pass deal. After the six months of free Uber Eats Pass are up, users will be charged $9.99 per month, the usual going rate for Uber Eats Pass.

Hulu disclosed to Mashed that this new partnership was part of their ongoing commitment to provide subscribers with added value. This announcement comes after Uber Ears introduced tiered payment options for restaurants in September, as well as their partnership with Rite Aid for non-prescription health products. Some consumers suspect this is an opportunity for Hulu to save face after their price hike at the beginning of October.

Image courtesy of Hulu

Amazon Introduces a New and Improved Way to Send Gifts

The holidays are about to get a lot easier and a lot less awkward, thanks to retail giant Amazon. Have you ever wanted to send a surprise to someone, then having to have an awkward conversation about where they live? Have you ever given them something that you aren’t sure that they’ll like? Amazon is working on a way to help solve that. In a recent press release, the company announced that Prime members are now able to send gifts to friends using only their email address or mobile number.

Prime members are now able to instantly send gifts or gift cards from their mobile devices or computers. Worried about your gift going to the wrong address or to a place where your gift might get snatched by porch pirates? Amazon has the answer. At checkout, the gift giver will select the option “Let the recipient provide their address.” The recipient of the gift will get a gift message via email or text, depending on the information Amazon has been given, and they will be able to accept the gift, and enter their preferred delivery address from their Amazon account.

Afraid your recipient might hate their gift? Amazon has a solution. The recipient will be able to see what was purchased, and if the item is not something they want or will use, they can swap the item out for a gift card of the same amount. This is made possible by the gift receipt option at checkout. The gift giver will not be notified that the item was swapped out and they can still be thanked for that specific item. The old adage is still true – it is the thought that counts – but Amazon has made it easier for gift givers to give a gift that will truly be appreciated.

Fox Nation Offers First Responders Discount

Fox Nation, the subscription streaming service popular with fans of Fox news and programming, is offering something special for first responders and military members. They are offering a free year of Fox Nation.

Fox Nation debuted at the tail end of 2018, after the last election, with the price remaining stable since launch. For $5.99 a month, those interested in the service were able to access all of their favorite Fox content. Subscribers can access shows like The Dan Bongino Show, Tucker Carlson Today, Crime Stories with Nancy Grace, Evil Next Door, and The Fuhrman Diaries, as well as the Fox News Channel itself.

Image courtesy of Fox Nation

First responders interested in the subscription service have a simple process to redeem their free year. They have to verify their first responder status by entering in their status, organization and some personal information in order to verify eligibility. Existing subscribers that are first responders are also able to redeem this offer and do not have to start a new account. If needed, Fox Nation will ask for documentation, such as affiliation with an eligible organization through employment, or licensure status for paramedics.

According to Fox Nation’s FAQs, first responders will also be able to redeem a 50% off discount on their annual renewal after their free year expires. Users will be notified within 30 days before the end of the first year, and they’ll receive half off of Fox’s $65 annual plan.

This discount was announced with the acquisition of the show Cops, which Fox Nation is planning to revive. Four new episodes of the once-popular true crime show were launched, and there will be a new episode weekly on Friday nights.

In honor of first responders, Fox Nation is also looking to highlight new series about their new target audience. They are planning to release a show about children of fallen first responders, called Answer the Call, as well as shows of footage and rescues.

HBO Max Expanding into Europe

On the heels of a wildly successful launch in the United States, HBO Max is expanding into Europe. In July, HBO announced that they had 67.5 million subscribers, giving it a huge jump start from its launch in May 2020. The streaming giant will soon expand into Europe and is slated to launch in six countries on October 26, with more coming next year.

Hollywood Reporter reports that the subscription is landing in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Andorra and Spain for its first launch. The Netherlands, Turkey, Greece, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will see the streaming service in 2022. HBO Max is aspiring to be in 190 territories by 2026. Cord Cutters has a full list of pricing for each country. In the Nordic region, prices are dropping by roughly 20%, and the price will be maintained in Spain.

One of the biggest appeals of HBO Max is putting new movies on its platform the day of theatrical release. For European countries, it will be a little bit different. Warner Bros films will be available 45 days after their theatrical release. The entire HBO Max catalog will be available to subscribers, as well as regional favorites for different countries. More titles will be announced in the coming months.

Currently, they are not looking at adding in the lower-cost, ad-supported tier to the European market. Christina Sulebakk, the general manager of HBO Max Europe, reports, “We are not introducing a basic tier, and we are not introducing an advertising funded model either.” It will replace current regional networks like HBO Nordic, Reuters reports.

Eyes are on the U.K. for an HBO Max launch, but HBO currently has a licensing agreement with Sky, which expires in 2025, so it may be a few years before the popular streaming service makes its debut there.

Image courtesy of HBO Max

The Athletic Seeks Buyer at a Minimum of $750M

The Athletic business model may be evolving. Since its launch with a hard paywall, the sports subscription site was seen as the underdog, but it proved many people wrong. Front Office Sports reports that they’re currently on track to pocket nearly $80 million in revenue this year, a 50% increase year-over-year. They are expecting to reach $120 million in revenue in 2022, and currently have 1.2 million subscribers.

The Athletic came from humble beginnings, we have been covering the subscription-based sports news startup since its launch. In 2017, they launched as a subscription-only site and mobile app in Chicago and Toronto. In their seed funding round, they secured $2.1 million, and investors thought it was a hot buy. By August of 2017, they secured another $5.4 million in funding after expanding into Cleveland, Detroit and the Bay Area. After expanding to a total of 23 markets, they raised another $20 million to expand their operations.

In March, they were in talks to discuss a merger with Axios, but that deal didn’t pan out. They were also in talks with The New York Times, but the deal dissolved quickly.

After reports that The Athletic burned through $95 million between 2019 and 2020, including $41 million last year alone, it appears that the mighty may have fallen, or are looking for a safety net of another media organization. MediaPost reports that the company has had heavy losses for the last three years, but the digital sports news startup is projected to reach profitability by 2023.

Front Office Sports reports that The Athletic has hired investment bank LionTree to find a buyer at a valuation of $750 million. LionTree hopes to have bids submitted for The Athletic by mid-October. Hopefully, a buyer will give the startup some insight, support and resources to help the popular sports news outlet turn a profit.

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