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Hulu launches a preview of its subscription service

Popular online video service Hulu on Tuesday will announce the launch of an ad-supported subscription service that will offer top broadcast shows in high definition to be viewed from a plethora of devices, including Internet-connected TVs, set-top boxes and game consoles, as well as portable devices such as Apple's iPad and iPhone.

The service, which will cost $9.99 a month, will offer the full run of current prime-time shows such as "Family Guy,"  "Glee," "Modern Family," "30 Rock" and "The Office." It will also offer complete past seasons of classic shows that include "Arrested Development," "Law & Order: SVU" and "The X-Files." The library contains content from more than 100 providers, from broadcast networks and major studios to independent producers.

To differentiate the pay service from the free online offering, Hulu Plus will display shows on an array of devices, including Samsung Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players, Apple's iPad, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4, and the third-generation iPod Touch, and, soon, Sony's PlayStation 3 game console.

In the coming months, Hulu Plus will be  available through devices Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players from Sony and Vizio. Microsoft's Xbox 360 game console will offer Hulu Plus early next year.

The popular online service, which ranks second to Google Inc.'s YouTube in terms of the number of videos watched, has been under pressure from its media owners, News Corp., NBC Universal and Walt Disney Co., to find new sources of revenue. The companies recognize that more people want to watch TV shows and movies online -- but executives are loath to do so in a way that undercuts the lucrative cable contracts that underwrite the cost of producing expensive content.

The new service has been expected for months and prompted an outcry from some users who don't want to surrender their free online access to popular shows. Hulu has acknowledged that change is coming.

"We've always been open to new business models which would complement our existing service," one Hulu official wrote on the company's blog in May. "The free, ad-supported business model is great, but there are many other content owners who have chosen and are successful with other models, subscription or otherwise. We want users to have access to the widest selection of premium video possible, and we'll continue to explore how to bring you more content in the best way possible."

-- Dawn C. Chmielewski

Comments () | Archives (12)

It's all about money but it is reasonable to expect these services to need more revenue. Why anyone would want to watch tv shows or movies on a very small screen is a mystery to me?

Hulu is going to start charging $120 per year for content of old shows and re-runs? No way. You can get TV via Internet from a program like seetvpc [dot] com. Have used it for a couple years and once you have it, they don't charge for

Win! I watch hulu all the time. I just wonder why people would pay 10 dollars for this service when you can get netflix at the same price.

Dawn, did the Hulu team say..."launch of an ad-supported subscription service...?" Or was that your take on their media release? Typically, it's either "ad-supported free" or "subscription pay..." In regard to another post, Hulu has best video player on the planet, and a superior user experience compared to other video sites. Netflix is good, but it's another world, closer to old media.

I was a product manager from Fox Interactive Media who served on the Hulu launch team.

I think the subscription service for old episodes is a good idea. I know that I like to watch a lot of TV shows on DVD, which easily cost $30-40 per season. For $120, just watching five seasons of television would be enough to save me money—and no pesky scratched DVDs to worry about either!

However, I hope recent episodes of shows remain free (with ads, of course). I'm willing to check out Hulu Plus, personally.

Update to my last post. Dawn got it right. The $10 per monthly subscription service of Hulu Plus will STILL be ad supported! I don't know about this from a strategy standpoint. If I'm paying, I don't want to see ad spots. Do HBO, Showtime or Cinemax feature ads? No. Jason, this is wrong on many levels. If a focus group expressed positive views about it, the members probably developed emotional ties with the facilitator. Sound familiar?

Hulu is going to charge $120 per year for its content? No way. You can get TV via Internet from a program like seetvpc [dot] com. Have used it for a couple years and once you have it, they don't charge for content - unlike hulu.

For me, even with DSL, the videos are choppy. The ads are beyond annoying.

I hope they make it a choice of whether to pay or keep the free service (like some other programs do). A lot of people (myself included) are on a limited budget. Before somebody asks how I can afford the internet on a limited budget, I am not the only person in the household and somebody else pays for the internet.

I'll sign up. But then, I miss most prime time TV because I work nights, so getting to catch up with current shows without having to download them on iTunes or wait for them to come out on DVD is very appealing. I canned my expensive TIVO + Cable subscription because I don't watch enough tv for it to be worth while. $10 a month to see new shows isn't so bad compared to what the cable companies charge and 9 out of 10 times, nothing good is on.

I can see a lot of people dropping cable and just doing Hulu. I rarely watch much tv at all anymore. Going to just Hulu, Netflix, etc and would be so much cheaper and your not missing much on cable anyways.

The ads on Hulu never bother me because I always have another browser window open when I'm watching videos, ad comes on, I go check what's on CNN.com or ESPN.com. The ads have to play, they don't say you have to watch them. Ads on Hulu are no different than banner ads on websites, eventually, you just tune them out. Sorry Hulu advertisers.

I'm sorry to be such a stickler...but I wish that writers would reconsider using the word 'plethora' without understanding its proper usage.
A 'plethora' of something is always a negative... a pejorative. Not just an 'abundance' but an 'overabundance'....actually stemming from the original medical use of the word, to describe a condition characterized by an overabundance of red blood cells at the surface of the skin:

plethora [ˈplɛθərə]
1. superfluity or excess; overabundance
2. (Medicine / Pathology) Pathol obsolete a condition caused by dilation of superficial blood vessels, characterized esp by a reddish face
[via Medieval Latin from Greek plēthōrē fullness, from plēthein to grow full]
plethoric [plɛˈθɒrɪk] adj

The usage above - 'to be viewed from a plethora of devices' - actually implies that there are too many of them...an unhealthy number of them. Unless that is what she wanted to say...but when it comes to techno-gadgets, can there ever be too many? ;-)



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