Hulu's For-Pay Service is Official. You Excited?

By  |  Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at 11:23 am

Speaking of browser-based entertainment services that are branching out: Hulu has finally announced its plans for a for-pay version of its extremely popular TV service. Hulu Plus will cost $9.99 a month and provide full access to entire seasons (current and past) of shows from ABC, NBC, FOX, and other TV networks. And it’ll be the first version of the service that’s available on devices that aren’t PCs, including the iPhone 4, iPhone 3G, iPod Touch, iPad, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and TVs and Blu-Ray players from Samsung, Sony, and Vizio. (That helps explain why Hulu has done everything in its power to prevent other companies such as Boxee from letting their users watch Hulu shows.)

Hulu says that the freebie, ad-supported version of the service isn’t going away–it’ll just offer fewer episodes, and won’t be available on a cornucopia of gadgets.

Hulu Plus will debut as a private beta–you can request an invite here. No news yet on when it’ll be available to all comers.

There are two ways to look at a $10/month Internet TV service. If you’re mentally comparing it to free alternatives–be they legal or not-so-legal–paying ten bucks may sound steep. But that same pricetag would be a steal if subscribing to Hulu Plus would let you kiss cable TV goodbye.

I’m inclined to respond in the latter, more optimistic way: If Hulu Plus lives up to its potential, it’ll be the first true Internet-era threat to the big cable and satellite companies. Its mere existence will be good news for consumers, since it’ll put pressure on Comcast and company to provide better services at lower prices.

Will I dump cable the instant Hulu Plus goes live? Maybe not: I’m a news junkie, and news is still something that cable does well, especially for major events. What I really want is some sort of economical plan that gives me multiple all-news channels but lets me skip the Cake Channel and its ilk. But at some point I may decide that over-the-air TV–along with news sites, blogs, podcasts, magazines, and newspapers–can keep me sufficiently well informed.

Your take?


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10 Comments For This Post

  1. kjhobin Says:

    I think the price is right, but unless I have a device other than my PC to view Hulu on (such as an iPad), it's not worth it.
    Also, from the blog post; it sounds like there would still be ads in the stream. That's kind of a bummer. But I guess there is no way to get around ads on cable TV (which you pay for) or even newspapers or magazines. Hopefully, those ads are bring the cost of the subscription down from a higher price.

  2. marinelayer Says:

    I like the idea, but it will force me to choose between Hulu Plus and Netflix. The services are different enough that I'll have to consider my own viewing habits. Do I care about having better access to new and archived TV shows or recently released movies? At this point, I'm leaning towards switching to Hulu Plus and then using Redbox when I want to occasionally rent a movie.

  3. Mike Cerm Says:

    Like marinelayer, I think this puts Hulu into direct competition with Netflix. As a Windows Media Center user, I get all my network TV shows for free, over the air. For me, Netflix has a much more compelling catalog of content, having both movies and past-seasons of TV shows. Hulu doesn't really do anything for me, regardless of the price. However, I could definitely see a lot of other people, particularly those without DVRs, finding a lot of value in Hulu Plus for just $10/month.

  4. Mark Says:

    I agree with you Harry that for $10.00 a month one might seriously consider ditching their cable television service in favor of Hulu Plus. The price is not (too) bad, and they do have a ton of content. Another great reason to consider this is the sheer number of devices that will support the Hulu Plus service. Do we know if there will still be ads in the "Plus" service?

    While I would strongly consider Hulu Plus as a viable solution for ditching Comcast, that sadly will not happen. I still need Comcast for my broadband connection to the internet, and I also have their phone service. While removing the "television" portion of my Comcast service would reduce my monthly bill overall, I pay for their triple play pricing tear (internet, phone, tv). Removing one of the features will just increases the cost of the other 2 services I pay for.

    Also, while there are a large number of supported devices and platforms that will run Hulu Plus, if you don't have one of these devices in each room you want to watch television, your out of luck. Putting a PS3 or X-Box 360 in my kitchen is just not a viable option. I have 5 rooms in my house with TV's in them, and only 1 would be able to actually use the Plus service full time. I would have to upgrade 4 rooms to just get rid of the "television" portion of my cable bill, an expense I just can't afford right now. Lastly, what about PPV content? You will miss out on that content if you ditch your cable TV service.

    I WISH this was the answer to all my Comcast problems, but I just don't see Hulu Plus as being the solution to my problem.

  5. pist Says:

    I agree – I also wanted to drop my cable (Knology) since I was already watching almost all my content on netflix and hulu anyway, but was told basically, that I might as well keep my cable because once the bundle discount was removed I would actually be paying more for phone and internet than I pay now for all three services. If Hulu thinks I'm going to pay them for content I am already paying for via cable that I can't seem to drop, they have another think coming. I'll just record everything though my tvtuner card from now on. A bigger pain in the reear, yes. But not paying double for the smae content. And I'll fast forward the ads.

  6. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    I already don't have cable because Netflix streaming is already too much TV for me. But I downloaded the Hulu iPad app and asked for an invitation to try it for a month. They still haven't sent them out yet, but you can run some episodes in a free preview mode and the app looks great. Like Hulu, but shinier, faster, and much higher quality.

    If I had to choose Netflix or Hulu, I'd choose Netflix. It is too good. But at $18.98 per month for both, I'm still beating cable by a long shot, so I'll give Hulu a try.

    What a final nail in the coffin for FlashPlayer, though. Not only can iPad run Hulu without Flash, but Android with Flash cannot run Hulu! And both Hulu for iPad and Android v2.2 for Nexus One (which can download Flash) shipped today! And Farmville for iPad shipped last week.

  7. yatesc Says:

    So now that there's a pay version of Hulu, does that mean we can view said version on Boxee?

  8. Blades Says:

    Well, I'm not fully impressed. As, YES I agree with others, it is cheaper than cable. However, when put next to NetFlix dollar value, its a toss up, do they(netflix) have the same amount of TV shows as Hulu? Of course not. However, the one thing that Netflix does is there is NO AD's. at all….

    And that, is a big deal to me. It kind of urks me to pay 10 bucks to still have AD's being streamed to me. I would understand if Hulu offered a Ad version and an Ad-free version. But it looks like, you get stuck with Ad's no matter what via Hulu.
    And I've been spoiled by Netflix so much that it's hard to watch Ad's anymore.

    Next question is IF Hulu plus is of interest. How's it going to interact with Boxee? and others?

  9. James Myers Says:

    If this will be for like basic cable and you include optional pay channels like HBO, SHOWTIME, THE MOVIE CHANNEL, PLAYBOY, and SPICE? This would really be worth it. I, like many, have drooped my landline phone in favor of my cell. To be able to take your cable tv with you anyplace you go would work for almost everyone who has done like me. The only real problem I can see would be an increase in price for unlimited data.

  10. Hdog Says:

    Now that I started paying for HuluPlus, it is now telling me I have to buy Showtime to watch unrated versions of the TV shows I pay HuluPlus to watch. This is lame.

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