Hulu ducks behind a pay wall

by Paul William Tenny

It was ony a matter of time before Hulu started charging for content, and that day has finally arrived. Hulu Plus will cost $9.99 per month, giving you access to every episode of an entire series (though it's not clear if every series will have every season available, or when that might happen) and the ability to stream shows to special Samsung TV sets, Blu-ray players, and some Apple products.

Xbox 360 connectivity will come later, and one assumes support for Google's Android mobile operating system will soon follow.

All in all that sounds pretty good. Whatever you're doing today you'll still be able to do once the pay wall launches. What we're seeing here is one of the more savvy business models of adding new premium features or services and charging for them, while keeping the core services intact and free.

But there is this downer (h/t Ars):

Hulu confirmed another rumor that had been swirling around about Hulu Plus: the company will not be ditching ads for the premium service.

"[W]e believe that any lasting solution to the challenge of making TV show discovery and viewing dramatically easier has to work for all three of our customers, and those are our end users, our advertisers, and our content suppliers," wrote Kilar. "For our advertisers, who allow us to keep our Hulu Plus price low with the support of ad revenue, we offer one of the world's most effective advertising platforms, with the ability to speak effectively to users across a variety of devices, anywhere they happen to be."

So even if you pay ten bucks per month, they are still going to force you to watch commercials, delaying the inevitable transition to a hybrid pay-per-view/à la carte model where you don't subscribe to a cable or satellite provider which gives you 120 channels of crap you don't want; instead you'll pay a microscopic fee for the individual episode of a series you want -- or a larger fee to subscribe to a full season -- so you only get what you pay for, and content creators only get paid for what people watch.

It's going to be a harsh new world for content creators, but in an era of always-on instant communication capable of delivering almost any kind of video, I don't see any way it can be avoided in the end.

As for getting your hands on the new service, it's invitation-only for the time being. You can request an invite here, and they suggest you follow Hulu on Twitter and Facebook to keep an eye out for more invitations as time goes on.

in Digital Media, Streaming Video, Television


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