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Hulu pushes forward with $9.95 subscription service

Hulu, the popular online site for watching television shows, plans to begin testing a subscription service as soon as May 24, according to people with knowledge of the plans.

Under the proposal, Hulu would continue to provide for free the five most recent episodes of shows like Fox's "Glee," "ABC's "Lost" or NBC's "Saturday Night Live." But viewers who want to see additional episodes would pay $9.95 a month to access a more comprehensive selection, called Hulu Plus, these people said.

Hulu, which ranks second only to Google's YouTube in terms of monthly video streams in the U.S., said it turned an operating profit in its two most recent quarters. The 2-year-old service, which is owned by media giants News Corp., NBC Universal and the Walt Disney Co., generated more than $100 million in revenue from advertising.

Still, that doesn't come close to matching the revenue that these companies are accustomed to raking in from their more established businesses. That's why Hulu is under pressure from its owners to collect a subscription fee to both bolster revenue and train viewers to pay for online access to professionally produced content.

Television executives don't want to suffer the same fate as music industry or newspapers, which saw users flock to free access to songs, stories and classified ads online -- and revenues plummet.

In the past, Hulu primarily offered shows that were broadcast over the air for free. But now, as the major networks are trying to extract payments from cable operators and television station groups, they can no longer justify offering the same shows online for free. Shows on Hulu also carry commercials, however there are fewer spots there than on regular television. Ultimately, Hulu is expected to adopt the same commercial loads as network television. 

Hulu did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

--Dawn C. Chmielewski and Meg James

The Hulu video player displays a scene from "Arrested Development." Credit: Twentieth Century Fox and Imagine Entertainment.

Comments () | Archives (134)

Hopefully they will release this as a free app for those with an jailbroken iPhone or iPad!

goodbye HULU!!! it was nice knowing ya!

If they are going to charge I don't want any commercials. It is either commercials or a monthly fee... NOT BOTH.

Someone should make a petition to have people stop using hulu if they add the subscription fee.

Hopefully the cydia version of these apps is a little cheaper!

Hulu does is get people to watch TV shows and movies online legally while sitting through limited commercials. This short-sided viewpoint will only drive many people back to torrents and to pirate sites.

Nope sorry. No more Hulu.
I dropped NetZero because they charged $10/month.
They ONLY get away with these charges because the sheeple pay it.
Secret: If NObody "buys" their service, they won't survive.

Also... Commercials... WHY!!
If a consumer "feels" they need something, they jump on the internet and find it.
I would like to see more polls on "Did you buy this product because of the commercial?"
Personally, I DON'T buy things because of the commercials. If the products actually worked properly, they wouldn't need to spend millions on breaking up my tv shows.

I have used Hulu since start-up, and I have seen the number and the length of commercials increase constantly. My use of Hulu has decreased as a result.

If I would get no ads in any video for $9.95, I might even think about subscribing, but otherwise, not a chance. If I want to catch-up on old episodes of a series I will buy the DVD for a one-time fee, and own them without commercials.

I will also be happy to go back to the oh-so-available unauthorized TV sites to watch old episodes for free.

This is a dumb idea, really dumb.

well looks like im going back to pirate streams and torrent downloads

Greedy ratbastards:

"generated more than $100 million in revenue from advertising. Still, that doesn't come close to matching the revenue that these companies are accustomed to raking in..."

That pretty much says it all...

If there were no commercials, and if there was a disc for my Wii, and if the service included DVDs sent to my house, and if I could watch on my iPod Touch, and if my family could all watch different shows on different devices at the same time, then I would think about spending another $10 for an adjunct to NetFlix.

haters. I will use free Hulu and use torrents for everything else. People should not be upset when a company tries to make money. Yeesh, don't get mad just get smart.

I'll pay for Hulu if i don't have to see the ads. If there are still commercials, no way! That's why cable tv is a big FAIL.

Most of you don't get it. Even if Hulu begins charging, it should NOT affect the way you are currently using the service. People who say otherwise didn't read the article. The top and most current programs will still be available WITHOUT subscription. Same as it ever was. They are actually talking about expanding the service to allow for MORE programs, and for that you'll have to pay extra if you WANT that.

On another note, and one that concerns me more, is how they will handle advertising. As it stands now, I actually wind up watching most of the commercials compared to network. The commercials are usually short and it's not like I have time to get up and run to the bathroom. On network you can usually have time to get up and run a few errands and not miss out. Plus there is DVR. If they increase the commercials or length of commercials, then I'm definitely going to reconsider going back to torrents for my favorite shows. There is no way I'm going to sit and watch 5 minutes of commercials on my computer! This is a case where greed in going to back-fire on them. Why can't they can't be happy with millions in profit? That's not enough for them? They have to piss off their audience in order to get more money out of them. Just like the fat cats on Wall Street and most of corporate America. Greedy basterds!

A production company gets sponsors to help pay for costs to make shows. They distribute/sell the show to cable and satellite companies and make a nice profit. The cable and satellite companies sell their channel line ups to consumers to watch these shows and make a nice profit. Consumers get stuck with commercials even though the shows are being paid for through cable/satellite subscriptions and distribution. Now they want to do the same thing on the internet for already paid for shows. If this works, then all the human race are idiots for letting them continue to get away with it.

Yeah I'll pay the subscription, when all the shows are streaming in 1080p digital HD. What a joke. You know, I didn't mind the advertisements. But I will not pay for low-fidelity audio/video.

Guess it's back to piracy for me. ;)

I guess I'll be switching over to MegaVideo now: much bigger selection for the same price.

Absurd! Absolutely ridiculous. No way, no how. I sincerely hope this plan tanks and causes major loss of revenues. Are they that out of touch?

Looks like I'll need to start to get more familiar with Fancast. Although $10/mth is still way cheaper than cable/sat. But if they plan on charging then they'll have to make all shows on all networks accessible. Most CBS and CW shows are not available on hulu which is acceptable if it's free. They would also need to show the new episodes within at least 3 day of the shows original air.

I love Hulu, but this too much. You want to charge AND make people watch commercials. HA! What a joke!

They already make money form the ads. Hulu turned a profit. What;s the problem? GREED. they want to milk more out of it. I will not pay 1 cent for the crap. They only encourage the tech world to beat the system and probably are going to drive viewers who would see the advertising content to get rips illegally through torrents and other sharing methods, Simply pathetic.

No way Hulu. I pay $9 a month to netflix to get 1 dvd at a time (~7 a month) AND streaming online content without commercials. Yes netflix doesn't have everything on streaming, but you can always put the DVDs in your queue.
So why would I pay $10 for something I can get from netflix, or stream from other (illegal/foreign) sites.

This is sad. I love hulu because I can watch episodes from the past, ex lost, without paying a fee. And I am not under the constrant that If i dont use it im payning 10 dollars a month for no reason. It will turn a lot of people away because you want to make more money. $100m in a recession? that sounds good to me.

fyi. people arnt going to pay a monthly fee when there is a recession.

Hello Hulu people. Remember you're competition is FREE downloads of tv shows. To compare your earnings to normal broadcasting revenue is self defeating. Don't get greedy and take your eye off the ball which is to subvert your competition which offers non-commercial programs that are FREE. Good luck.

At least we still get to watch the last five episodes. However I am not going to pay an extra 10 just to see the past episodes of some shows I enjoy. For $14 you can get netflix. Which will allow you to have acess to all there instant movies/shows and you still get 2 dvd mailed to you at the same time for the whole month.

My god Murdoch, you reeaallyy need to understand one, the market that uses hulu primarily (mostly young individuals that detest watching ads) and two, the amount of options available besides hulu.

There's good ole torrents, fancast, numerous streaming options through foreign sites and more.

You're trying to charge for content that's readily available elsewhere, at a price that's beyond ludicrous. $120/year? HAHAHA

I'm gonna have fun watching the sinking Titanic that is Hulu.. *grabs popcorn*

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