A report today from Bloomberg could possibly point to a new pecking order for the major streaming TV services.
The sourcing of the story is extremely thin (uncomfortably so), however — pointing only to "people with knowledge of the matter," and with not so much as "no comment" from any of the services mentioned. But here's what Bloomberg is reporting:
"Hulu's live service is nearing 2 million subscribers," according to the story. That'd be nearly twice as many as the company officially told us about back in September 2018. Hulu finished 2018 with some 25 million subscribers in total.
Hulu's owners don't break out subscription numbers via earnings reports, but they will crow about them when they want to.
Hulu's live service runs $44.99 a month. (For $6 more you can get it without commercials in Hulu's on-demand shows.)
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports (again, via "the people, who asked not to be identified because the numbers aren't public") that YouTube TV now has more than 1 million subscribers. Google never has broken out official numbers on its live streaming TV service, though estimates have long put it between 800,000 and 1 million subs.
YouTube TV costs $40 a month.
What does that mean for the list of the biggest live streaming services? Again, assuming the unnamed sources are correct, it would move Hulu from the No. 3 spot to No. 2, leapfrogging DirecTV Now, which hemorrhaged subscribers at the end of 2018, and likely well into the early months of 2019, too. It lost 267,000 subs in Q4 2018, taking it down to 1.57 million total.
YouTube TV would remain in fourth, however (assuming it's not surpassed DirecTV Now, which certainly would be a possibility.)
|Sling TV||No. 1||No. 1|
|Hulu Live||No. 3||No. 2|
|DirecTV Now||No. 2||No. 3|
|YouTube TV||No. 4||No. 4|
|PlayStation Vue||No. 5||No. 5|
And it's still worth mentioning ESPN+ in this context. It's a very different sort of streaming TV service because it's all-sports, all the time, and not a multichannel video programming distributor in the same sense and focuses entirely on sports. But it does have more than 2 million subscribers at last look. It also costs far less than any of the other services mentioned above, at just $4.99 a month.
Again, the sourcing is thin. But given how many subscribers DirecTV Now has lost — and those folks likely will just hop to another service — none of this is out of the realm of possibility.