Hulu to charge for content; cubicle dwellers everywhere cringe
Hey you. Yeah, you - guy wasting company time by watching last week's episode of Heroes on Hulu. Enjoying it? Well, get ready to cough up some cash to find out what happens next.
In a move that we've all long feared was probably inevitable anyway, Chase Carey, deputy chairman of News Corp. (one of Hulu's co-owners) annouced that Hulu would begin charging users. According to Broadcasting & Cable, Hulu's fees could start as early as 2010.
You may commence booing now.
While this doesn't come as a shock, it's still a disappointment as millions have become accustomed to Hulu's crystal clear free programming with only minimal commercial interruptions.
Carey didn't offer any more than that, other than to say he thought "a free model is a very difficult way to capture the value of our content." Well... duh, but it isn't completely free. As minimal as those commercial interruptions are, they're still generating income, right? It's presumably not enough given this news, but I'd rather see advertising increased before a pay model any day.
Anyway, there's nothing concrete regarding how users will be charged yet, but Carey did say that not everything would be offered for a price, so some content will still be free - as in "ad supported."
Logical guesses? There will probably be monthly passes. Maybe yearly subscriptions? Maybe pay-per-view? If that is the case, why not head over to iTunes where you at least get to keep the content after you buy it? Another possibility is starting a subscription mobile service, which actually does seem worthwhile given the increased usage of video-capable smart phones.
This also creates an interesting situation for Hulu's many partners who re-brand and offer Hulu content via their own video sites - TV Squad's parent AOL, who recently launched SlashControl, included. Will Hulu content cease to be free at these types of outlets as well?
So much for that free "TV show while I eat" lunch.
[via TV Week]