Column: Spotify and Hulu collaborate to offer college students affordable streaming

Tucked away in my pocket, my neon green iPod nano changed the way I listened to music. No longer confined to what was played on the radio, I could take music wherever I wanted and purchase individual songs for just 99 cents.

iTunes was my go-to for listening to music, until online streaming services further shifted the music industry. Streaming services have recently taken over entertainment, with Netflix and Hulu providing television and movies and Apple Music and Pandora offering unlimited music streaming.

Spotify has taken the lead in recent years, with over 60 million subscribers and counting. The digital music service recently announced a new partnership with Hulu in September. The collaboration offers college students access to Hulu’s limited-commercials plan along with Spotify Premium for students, which has no commercials and unlimited skips. Students who already have the $4.99 plan with Spotify can now activate the Hulu subscription and start watching.

The bundle may pique the interest of students who love music, movies and television, but don’t have the budget to subscribe to two or more platforms.

College students who might have originally paid $13 a month for the cheapest plan on both services combined would save nearly $100 a year.

“I think it’s great,” said communications major Taylor Moore. “I probably wouldn’t have advanced to the package if it was even a dollar more, just because I’m on that student budget.”

Around 1.5 million Americans stopped their cable subscriptions last year, according to research analysis conducted by the Jackdaw Research technology firm, decreasing the number of homeowners that pay for TV to 99.4 million.

While this still leaves 85 percent of all U.S. households with cable, college students are especially attracted to the low monthly subscription fees of streaming services.

Ashley Shaw, a fourth-year history major, doesn’t have cable at all. Instead, she uses services like Netflix, Hulu and Pandora for entertainment because it’s cheaper.

With a vast amount of entertainment options, it can be hard to decide which is best. Many music-streaming services have some type of free plan. Both Spotify and Pandora’s plans come with limited skips, restricting users from choosing which song plays next. Apple Music and Amazon Prime have free trials but when the period ends, users are forced to sign up for a paid plan if they wish to continue using the services.

Up until the new partnership, I was using Spotify’s free plan because I was already paying for Netflix and Hulu. Both services provide me with different online experiences and options to pick from. I love Netflix because it doesn’t have commercials and I can watch all of my favorite childhood shows and movies.

Hulu is my safety net when I don’t have time to sit down and watch TV shows live. It allows me to catch up on my favorite shows anytime. Unfortunately, Hulu has one thing a lot of viewers can’t stand: Commercials.

“Hulu’s cool, but I really can’t get over the commercials,” said senior business accounting major Daniel Gomez. “I don’t think that their original content is as good as Netflix.”

Netflix may have the upper hand when it comes to interruption-free viewing, but it does have its flaws, such as its limited amount of up-to-date TV shows and the withdrawal of many of its well-liked programs.

There are many variables to take into consideration between the two companies. Forty-nine percent of Netflix users watch content directly on their computers compared to 89 percent of Hulu subscribers, according to Nielsen.

In addition to the amount of users, 73 percent of subscribers use Hulu for TV shows and 53 percent use Netflix for movies. Spotify and Hulu’s deal might be the most affordable option, but users continue to stay loyal to Netflix.

“I think (Netflix has) such a big handle on the market that I don’t think it will really affect them. I don’t think that they really need to go out and make a partnership with somebody else,” Gomez said.

Whichever option students choose, it looks like online streaming is here to stay.

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