Hulu and Xbox have announced an unlikely partnership. The companies are teaming up to offer eligible Hulu subscribers three free months of Xbox’s PC Game Pass. Redeemable through July 23, 2022, the offer is available to U.S. Hulu subscribers in good standing, giving them access to more than 100 games on Windows PC. The games include Minecraft, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Bethesda games, new day one titles and with new games added regularly. Windows 10 or 11 and the Xbox app are required to play PC games.
In addition, the free trial gives subscribers access to the EA Play on PC catalog which includes some of EA’s top titles, exclusive in-game rewards, and early trials of certain new games. Games are downloadable to play on subscriber PCs. The subscription offer is automatically renewable at the “then-current Game Pass Service subscription fee per month” unless canceled. There is a limit of one free offer per person/account. The current pricing for PC Game Pass outside of this special offer is a one-month trial for $1. After that, the subscription renews automatically for $9.99 a month.
“At Hulu, every decision we make starts with the viewer. We do this through the stories we bring to life, and by giving Hulu subscribers the opportunity to engage with their favorite shows, films and brands through select perks and activations, including the “Hulu Friends with Benefits” initiative, Hulu’s way of thanking you for simply being a fan – because that’s what friends are for,” said Hulu in the May 12, 2022 announcement.
The news was announced one day after Hulu-parent Disney shared their second-quarter financials for fiscal year 2022. In their May 11 earnings release, the company reported that Hulu had total subscribers of 45.6 million, including 41.4 million who subscribed to the streaming video on demand service and another 4.1 million who subscribed to Hulu’s Live TV and SVOD service. This was an increase of 300,000 Hulu subscribers since the end of the first quarter. Disney did not mention the Hulu deal on their earnings call.
In Microsoft’s third-quarter financials for fiscal year 2022, released last month, Microsoft did not include the number of Xbox subscribers, but the company did say that Xbox content and services revenue had increased 4% year-over-year. The company is expected Xbox content and services revenue to decline mid-single digits in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2022, but they expect engagement hours to remain higher than pre-pandemic levels.
On their earnings call, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that the Game Pass library now has hundreds of titles across PC and console, including third-party games.
“Our ambition is to empower gamers to play when, how, and where they want,” Nadella said.
This is an interesting partnership and one that could potentially work for both Microsoft and Disney with both potentially reaching new audiences. For Hulu, they get to offer their members something for nothing, making their streaming subscriptions stickier. Microsoft, on the other hands, has an opportunity to grow its PC gaming audience. As the company expands its PC games catalog – and struggles with supply chain issues with their consoles, this gives them an opportunity to offset potential losses.
Another side to this is that Netflix launched mobile gaming for Android and iOS last fall. PC gaming is a different experience than console or cloud gaming, and it appeals to different audiences, but this Hulu-Xbox partnership allows Hulu to compete on more of a level playing field with Netflix. This promotion is a good test for Hulu and Xbox to see if they can attract new subscribers – and you know we love a good test! If not, neither company loses anything.