Could Hulu's fee-based programming plans mean it's coming to your TV?

Could Hulu's fee-based programming plans mean it's coming to your TV?

Summary: Long, long after the cat has been let out of the bag, it's finally dawning on companies that an Internet of free content might not fit into the business plans of big media firms. On the heels of the New York Times announcing that it will start charging for online article viewing (after a limited number of freebies per month) in 2011, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that Hulu is starting to piece together some details around charging viewers for some of the shows they've been watching online.

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Long, long after the cat has been let out of the bag, it's finally dawning on companies that an Internet of free content might not fit into the business plans of big media firms. On the heels of the New York Times announcing that it will start charging for online article viewing (after a limited number of freebies per month) in 2011, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that Hulu is starting to piece together some details around charging viewers for some of the shows they've been watching online. The article speculates that such new paid viewing options are being put in place to allow the service to start being offered by connected home theater devices (Blu-ray players, media streamers, etc.) so you can watch Hulu on your HDTV.

Three shows have been singled out as moving from free to fee status: "30 Rock," "Modern Family" and "House." One possibility is that you can view the five most recent episodes for free, but to access older episodes, you'll need to pay for a $4.99 per month subscription. The decision on how to charge users hasn't been finalized, according to the Hulu source with whom the paper spoke, but could come within the next six months. Such a move would follow in the wake of Boxee—the media streaming service that recently teamed up with D-Link to introduce the Boxee Box to connect to your TV (and even let you watch Hulu)—announcing plans to introduce paid video downloads by summer.

Considering that Hulu replays have far fewer commercials than broadcasts of the same episodes, it's understandable that content providers will want a pay option before the service can announce meaningful hardware partnerships. That's especially true considering that Comcast is getting a piece of the Hulu action through its purchase of NBC Universal, and won't want people abandoning its cable service to watch all their TV for free through a Hulu-enabled device. So Hulu starting to charge is looking inevitable, but the other part of the equation—getting people to actually pay for content—is still unknown.

Would you be willing to pay for any part of Hulu's service? If so, what would it be? Let us know in the TalkBack section.

Topics: Hardware, Banking, Mobility

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Talkback

26 comments
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  • Sorry, but again.... NO ONE IS GOING TO PAY FOR THINGS

    THAT ARE EASILY AVAILABLE IN HIGHER QUALITY BY TORRENTS!

    That's the bottom line here, and these companies are just going to have to realize that charging a subscription isn't going to fly!
    Lerianis10
    • I already pay for cable....

      I would easily pay for an internet based service with all the same features of cable, if I could save money...
      -HD content
      -Movie channels...HBO
      -DVR like control...
      Local channels...
      lower cost
      I'm in..
      el1jones
      • I will pay IF...

        I agree with el1jones... gotta have HD content. That means 1080. Netflix's free streaming doesn't cut it. I know they want to go 100% streaming, but it has to equal what I see on HD channels. I didn't invest thousands for an HDTV system to go backwards in my viewing definition.
        s-Jerry
        • The bandwidth just isn't there

          Except with Fios. Maybe in a few years but right now, it's pie-in-the-sky.
          Wintel BSOD
  • RE: Could Hulu's fee-based programming plans mean it's coming to your TV?

    At $5 a month it's reasonable. I'm watching hulu now - it's my only source of movie/tv entertainment - with the exception of the occasional RedBox rental.
    williamacole@...
  • I will watch adverts and pay nothing

    I am willing to watch adverts but I pay nothing.
    malcarada
    • They won't do that

      They're too greedy. They want you to sit through the ads and pay for them at the same time. They're counting on enough people being stupid enough to do that.
      Wintel BSOD
  • Hulu's content sucks

    Nothing they offer is worth paying for.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • The offerings...

      Oh yes, I agree. I'd accept a 24-hour delay from advert broadcasts before Hulu offers it. But, if they plan to offer what they currently do, I would not pay. Netflix's free streaming (with a paid mailing account) is OK because it's free. But the free offerings by Netflix suck compared to the mail movies.
      s-Jerry
  • RE: Could Hulu's fee-based programming plans mean it's coming to your TV?

    Nope.
    ITOdeed
  • RE: Could Hulu's fee-based programming plans mean it's coming to your TV?

    No!
    jminifie@...
  • RE: Could Hulu's fee-based programming plans mean it's coming to your TV?

    I already pay for satalite. Willnot consider paying for Hulu though.
    jwoods@...
  • I Vote: No Way

    However, I agree with a previous entry. Provide me better service/content than ComCrap and I'll bite.
    Hal_9001
  • RE: Could Hulu's fee-based programming plans mean it's coming to your TV?

    If you added live sporting to Hulu, it would be a no-brainer to drop cable/satellite, even for a fee. THe bottom line would be MUCH cheaper...
    kspear@...
  • Few commercials - okay / Fee based - NO WAY

    Look we all want to turn a profit but we are paying FAR too much for our home phone, cell phone, cable, internet, texting, cell data, etc services. We don't need any more recurring fees.

    I do enjoy Hulu and their decent (not great) picture quality but if they go fee based I'll simply quit using the service.
    Keeping Current
  • RE: Could Hulu's fee-based programming plans mean it's coming to your TV?

    Very doubtful that I would pay. I watch HULU now, because
    I don't have cable or satellite. Not worth paying for
    when there are very few shows that I have interest in.
    That is what made HULU attractive to me. See the couple
    of shows I liked, without paying for a bunch of content
    that that I didnt want to see.

    I will say that $5.00 a month to watch shows more than 5
    episodes old would not be bad, if that means they will
    keep the most recent ones free.
    Xorial
  • RE: Could Hulu's fee-based programming plans mean it's coming to your TV?

    If you can get the same HD resolution as you do with Cable or Satellite.. Why not but good luck trying to get that image thru the internet.. This wont work unless they get huge bandwith to stream that video..
    ltorres321
  • I might be willing to pay...

    but I have some issues with Hulu. First off I do not watch the big 4 broadcast networks. I am not interested in recent content, my DVR takes care of that. My main viewing is PBS and specialty channels such as Discovery, History, SciFi, Spike (hangs head and shuffles feet), Home and Garden and Comedy are my main fare. What I use Hulu for is watching shows that have been discontinued or the older shows in a series that may now be of interest to me. The issue I have is that Hulu frequently does not have the full series, frequently missing the last season or two. The other problem is that sometimes an episode will just not download, a day or two later it may work just fine. I must also add that $5 per month per series is a bit steep.
    don3605
  • I might pay but...

    I might pay to watch on the web, but then I would drop my cable subscription.
    Bellhop
  • Already have FEE BASED SERVICE, (called, "BLOCKBUSTER Downloads"); Barely e

    Already have FEE BASED SERVICE, (called, "BLOCKBUSTER Downloads"); Barely ever even look there for content. I would toss HULU out of my saved favorites, (In a NewYork minute), if it turned into just another cable provider.

    Besides that: It is your ISP download speeds that make FLASH PLAYER based video content play well, or play badly; So since HULU quality control is in your ISP's hands, and in your hands for choosing a high or low download speed service plan; I can't see them getting you to pay; Especially if you are used to seeing SKIPPY-HULU.

    And I am very sure HULU could not charge me anything; I only put up with SKIPPY-HULU because it is free. I have seen service at a home with that $100 plus per month ISP service, and HULU worked flawlessly at that home; But I'm sticking with my $15 per month or there abouts ISP sevice; So for me: NO FEE-BASED-SKIPPY-HULU.
    buy-a-thing-or-two@...