Thursday, October 22, 2009

This was bound to happen...

According to accounts from an NYC industry summit that took place Wednesday, October 21st, Hulu plans to begin to charge users for their services starting in 2010. Umm...

That's less than two months away. You're trying to tell me that a service that started off as free hasn't found a way to utilize their growing (nay, rapidly surmounting) amount of time and space devoted to advertising to their advantage is now planning on charging, likely in a subscription-based model?

Most newspapers haven't even dared to make this leap, and while to most people access to news information is more valuable than access to entertainment*, I'm surprised, yet not too surprised, that Hulu has come to this decision. I wouldn't mind paying a small fee to watch a few TV shows -- I do have a Netflix subscription. But since I can probably find these shows elsewhere online and I need that extra money to pay for, you know, my Internet connection in the first place, odds are you will find me opting out of Hulu as a viewing platform if I am made to pay for it.

Now that I think about it, I'm actually surprised that Netflix hasn't started charging users more for the "View Instantly" feature since it allows a user access to movies and TV shows (admittedly, a lot fewer than their entire stock of available titles) at virtually any time. I wonder if there will be different tiers of subscription for Hulu, and if so I hope that some content will still be free for those of us who chose not to pay. They can't completely eliminate a huge pool of users like that just because they don't want/can't afford to pay for their services, can they? Maybe it's a risk they are willing to take.

*I realize in making this statement I'm being very optimistic about the type of information the average individual consumes. This statement is easily altered due to the age and education of the user.


BuckBonz said...
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BuckBonz said...

KJ, did you read the actual article from Broadcasting and Cable? In my opinion, EW's synopsis of it is misleading.

Charging for a premium service that includes "specially-created content and TV previews" [the example they use are "American Idol audition previews" which would seemingly cater to rabid fans looking for inside info 12 hours before the general public gets it] is the inevitable next step for Hulu and doesn't surprise me at all. But this doesn't apply to watching last week's episode of 30 Rock/etc. As Carey himself puts it: "throwing up a pay-wall around all content is not the answer".

What was discussed at the summit was very speculative. The only thing we can really take away from it is that Hulu is preparing to take the next step in developing their business model by coming out with some fee-based feature or expanded service that will generate a more significant revenue stream than banner advertising, which could be as insignificant (to us current users) as creating an iTunes Store-esq "Mobile Hulu" service.

I wouldn't fret about losing our current level of highly accessible Hulu content.

Katharine Relth said...

Thanks for filling me in where I was obviously negligent, Perkins! I'll have to edit this post to include that information.