Print 34 comment(s) - last by theArchMichael.. on Nov 6 at 10:55 PM

According to co-owner News Corp, the popular Hulu internet TV service may start charging users subscription fees as early as next year. The site's content is mostly available for free on local broadcast television.  (Source: Hulu)
Just a few fateful words send our dreams of a free Hulu future plunging

Oh fate, why must you mock thee?  After many happy hours of watching, free Hulu may be set to kick the can.  According to a new report the popular internet TV service may begin charging for content as early as next year.

It seems like just a few months ago that happy days were upon us and Hulu was looking to spread its free loving to more and more places, including the iPhone and mobile sphere (wait, that was a few months ago).  Then came the fateful revelation from Chase Carey, President, Chief Operating Officer (COO), and Deputy Chairman of News Corporation (which co-owns Hulu), stating the days of freebies were drawing to an end.

States Mr. Carey, "I think a free model is a very difficult way to capture the value of our content. I think what we need to do is deliver that content to consumers in a way where they will appreciate the value,” Carey said. “Hulu concurs with that, it needs to evolve to have a meaningful subscription model as part of its business."

When asked when the end of the world -- or at least free Hulu -- might occur, Mr. Carey replied that the Hulupocalypse was set to occur sometime next year, in 2010.  He offered us weak reassurance cheering "not all content on Hulu would be behind a pay wall".

The move brings into question Hulu's future.  Many users would stop using Hulu if it wasn't free.  It doesn't seem like many users would pay cable-like fees for content that is already available for free on broadcast television, or at minimal cost with basic cable.  And if those users forsake Hulu, they'll take a pile of advertising revenue with them.

There's still faint hope that the end of free Hulu might be averted.  Indeed, Comcast is looking to partner with Hulu, so that could alter the equation dramatically.  And faced with too much backlash News Corp. may change its mind.  And current co-owner NBC could even nix the idea.  The optimist inside many of us likely will hope for this very badly.  But the pessimist will think that, in the end it will probably happen, and lament why free Hulu had to die so young.  Why do the good always die young?

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Bye bye Hulu
By a little different on 10/23/2009 12:13:01 AM , Rating: 5
I love Hulu, but not enough to pay for it! I just need to stop being so lazy and set the DVR!
The internet is great, because its free (after I pay my way to get on it). To me, the great things on the net are free. But when greed kicks in, I have no compassion. Hulu runs ads to make up for their service. And now I will have to pay for a subscription, and watch the ads? Lets count all those subscriptions we have now. To many to deal with!
Aloha Hulu. You were fun when you were free!

RE: Bye bye Hulu
By iFX on 10/23/2009 9:12:43 AM , Rating: 3
I love Hulu, but not enough to pay for it!

This sums up my feelings about Hulu as well. I use it a lot but I still have a TV and should Hulu start charging I can catch my shows on OTAHD instead.

RE: Bye bye Hulu
By Sazar on 10/23/2009 5:13:17 PM , Rating: 2
I can certainly understand the point you are making. However, if there is a subscription model, even a tiered one, it's not a total loss if many items will still be available for free.

Take Pandora for example. I purchased PandoraOne because I wanted higher quality, ad-free music with unlimited skips across my artists (still locked to 6 skips per "channel" per hour). And I love it.

If Hulu provides a way for me to skip a lot of the commercials that I am otherwise watching, in order to better my viewing experience, so be it.

Hulu has introduced me to some shows I otherwise would not have cared about and since I've been out with the flu recently, I binged on those channels :)

Joost is the only other service that comes close to Hulu, but it is vastly inferior.

RE: Bye bye Hulu
By kattanna on 10/27/2009 1:55:30 PM , Rating: 2
actually, it might be a good thing.

right now hulu doesnt have a lot of the old episodes of shows. but maybe with a paying model, it could be more like a netflix streaming service.

if they do it with a monthly subscription fee, instead of a per movie/show fee, and make it available on my ROKU box.. i might actually get it.

and if a paying model brings in other channels shows like discovery networks science channel, the history channel.. etc, i would be able to completely drop my dish subscription. a long ways to go from here to that, but.. if/when someone does do it, and does it right, it should be huge.

RE: Bye bye Hulu
By Schrag4 on 10/29/2009 2:34:28 PM , Rating: 2
I was actually thinking the exact same thing. I'd be VERY interested in paying for a service like hulu if I could drop my cable TV altogether and just use my cable internet connection to watch all of my shows. Yes, I'd have to have some sort of hardware between my ISP and the TV, but I'm almost at that point already in my house. I understand that a lot of TVs and other non-PC video devices also have ways to get streaming video built right into them.

To me this would be a step in the direction of paying for the networks that I actually watch and NOT paying for the networks that I do NOT watch. Oh, and that's a good thing in my opinion (apparently this is debateable...).

Why is this so hard to tell?!
By danielgarciaromero on 10/23/2009 3:22:35 AM , Rating: 4
"I think a free model is a very difficult way to capture the value of our content. I think what we need to do is deliver that content to consumers in a way where they will appreciate the value"

Why can't this be:
I think we are losing an oportunity for higher profits, we need to charge for our service.

And the last part is sooo funny! Who appreciates being charged?! I think FREE is much better, thank you!

RE: Why is this so hard to tell?!
By mmntech on 10/25/2009 5:55:16 PM , Rating: 3
This is the new business platform for television providers. Pay for the service, then pay for the content. Broadcasters here in Canada have been pushing aggressively for the government to allow them to adopt this business model. Basically they now want additional carrier fees for what was normally free programming. So consumers will end up paying twice for something they can get for free over-the-air. If they don't get their way, the broadcasters are threatening to pull out of smaller markets all together, cutting the OTA people off from TV completely. Lovely.

The problem with the media right now is that companies are being mismanaged from the top. It's not that the content is bad, or that people aren't watching. They're wasting ad dollars and not giving people what they want. What people want is on-demand television that they can access freely anywhere at anytime. There's a lot to be made from that model using ad backed programming as transmission costs are next to nothing, compared to the expensive equipment needed for conventional broadcast. It's the same kind of idiocy we saw from RIAA when they fought Napster tooth and nail rather than embracing the internet as a new content delivery medium.

By inperfectdarkness on 10/25/2009 6:50:11 PM , Rating: 2
the shows are already littered with ads. granted, it's only about 1/2 of the ads you'd get on network tv--BUT STILL...there are ads. i don't get the "for pay" aspect.

we're not talking about shows before network premier. we're talking about previously-run content. trying to milk customers with subscriptions is a quick way to bankrupt the service.

worst case--netflicks will start offering tv shows (as well as movies) once the DVD's hit the streets. they'd be fools not to jump on the opportunity. i may have to wait longer to see some episodes--but it still won't cost me $$$.

and to top it off, there won't be ads to watch. ;)

RE: Why is this so hard to tell?!
By nilepez on 11/1/2009 9:07:14 PM , Rating: 2
Because what's actually happening is they're losing money. The ad revenue generated on Hulu is lower/viewer than it is for the original broadcast.

This is the same thing that occurred with Newspapers. Their online content cannibalizes subscriptions and online ad revenue hasn't come close to making up the loss. The only exception is the Wall Street Journal, which charges for full access (even subscribers to the paper have to pay for full access) to their online content.

By theArchMichael on 11/6/2009 10:55:58 PM , Rating: 2
I believe Newscorp. recently purchased the wall street journal. Perhaps they are surmising the same situation that you just detailed.
I can only speak for myself, but for me, hulu and cable tv as it exists now is a luxury that I can do without. I can't see how they charge you for cable and then make you watch ads (that people generally hate) on it. Yet this model has become so ubiquitous that people don't even think twice about how they're getting it in the butt with a big cable bill, but DP'ed with a load of annoying commercials to boot.
I like to watch 30 rock and Stargate on Hulu but I kind of hope it goes down in flames with this new pricing model. Maybe a lot people will be upset about it and abstain from pay for use cable altogether. If nothing else, maybe they'll lose enough subscribers to rethink their business model. Or even better maybe some people out there will put down the remote or laptop and 'read a book or sumpthin'.

There must be another way
By monitorjbl on 10/23/2009 1:20:31 AM , Rating: 2
I for one would gladly sit though more commercials on Hulu if it meant it was free. It's really the on-demand entertainment thing that I love. What's more, I don't think I'm the only one that feels this way. Here's hoping that they can find a better way to monetize Hulu's advertising space and keep it free!

RE: There must be another way
By AmbroseAthan on 10/23/2009 5:15:09 PM , Rating: 2
I am with you. Right now there is basically no commercials compared to what I am used to. It takes me longer to fast forward my DVR through commercials then the 15 second commercials Hulu normally has.

If they played two 30-second commercials each break, I am sure 99% of the people would still be using Hulu. As you said, that is a worthy price for it to be completely on-demand.

By theslug on 10/23/2009 10:45:16 AM , Rating: 2
Doesn't Hulu use flash? Who's going to pay to watch something with screen tearing?

RE: Flash
By piroroadkill on 10/29/2009 9:24:12 AM , Rating: 2
Who would buy 128kbps DRM protected AACs?

Oh wai...

Yeah, people barely seem to give a shit about quality

And the headline one year from now will be...
By Boze on 10/27/2009 8:52:29 AM , Rating: 2
Very Bad News - Hulu Now Bankrupt and Going The Way of GeoCities

Jason Mick reporting...

Paid content move ends up blowing up in Hulu's face.

More to come on this breaking story later this hour.

In other news, a new study from an obscure environmental group yields conclusive evidence that aliens cause global warming!

Apple's Steve Jobs revealed to be a cybernetic organism. Past illnesses were merely a ploy to drive down Apple stock so that the cybernetic warlord could purchase even more. Also, he is evil.

That's the news for the hour, I'm Jason Mick.

By piroroadkill on 10/29/2009 9:26:55 AM , Rating: 2
Geocities? I wouldn't say Geocities was a marked failure, it was just something that needed to die so nobody could see how bad we were at web design when we were 11.

I'd say it's much more like Stage6, which had extremely quick streaming and flat out ridiculous quality

Fox has learned nothing
By mcnabney on 10/25/2009 12:06:02 AM , Rating: 3
Has Fox forgotten all of that money they invested in MySpace which has surely been written-off by their finance department by now?

And now they want to throw another pile of invested money down the drain by forcing a payment model on a service that has been accepted from square one as ad-supported. This isn't like cable which grew over decades by providing a clearer signal and channels not otherwise available to the public. Hulu only offers convenience, and if there is one thing that the Internet is great at it is producing convenient options. Hulu's traffic will disappear faster than you can say Lycos.

It was clear
By Reclaimer77 on 10/22/2009 11:15:01 PM , Rating: 1
It was clear to me from the start that this was always what Hulu had in mind in the first place.

I enjoy Hulu from time to time, but why would I pay for what I can get somewhere else for free ? Most of the time I find myself watching YouTube anyway.

RE: It was clear
By lostvyking on 10/23/2009 7:52:30 AM , Rating: 2
Everyone's watching preferences are different so comments here are bound to by highly subjective with no clear "one size fits all" strategy for Hulu coming to mind.

Hulu has great potential. In one sense it takes all the major channels out there and brings their shows to one location. I have hundreds of channels via Dishnetwork of which I watch content from perhaps a dozen. I am paying a little over $100 per month for this service. If Hulu were to encapsulate the content I watch from those channels, thus making my satellite service obsolete, I could easily see paying $19.95 or maybe as much as $39.95 per month for Hulu to be able to watch all that I watch when I want to watch it and still save $70-$90 a month.

There could be different tiers of Hulu service and perhaps even pay per view options similar to what is on Cable TV now. I am not sure how much an ala-cart system would cost to operate but it would be one way to bring in revenue and yet still have free content out there. I guess it is all just a matter of building value in the eyes of the customer.

As much as people kvetch about paying for a service like Hulu "if they charge, I am walking", going bankrupt and out of business would result in the customer walking anyway.

Good luck Hulu, I hope your future is marked with much success.

RE: It was clear
By reader1 on 10/23/09, Rating: -1
By meepstone on 10/23/2009 9:59:33 PM , Rating: 2
Well your only going to be paying for the tv shows because all their movies except 5 are horrible.

By Army1156 on 10/24/2009 3:02:21 PM , Rating: 2
Oh fate, why must you mock thee?

That means "Oh fate, why must you mock you." Nothing looks less cultured than a botched attempt at appearing so. Even if he had used it grammatically - saying "thyself"-
what does fate mocking itself mean?

Let's see what happens
By nigel106 on 10/28/2009 12:16:17 PM , Rating: 2
Hulu was only ever free to U.S. users. Offering a subscription or other fee-based model might allow Hulu to expand into other markets, bringing their content to more people. I think it's premature to consider this "bad" news based solely on Hulu's decision to move beyond advertising as a source of revenues.

what did he just say?
By invidious on 10/29/2009 12:45:56 PM , Rating: 2
There's still faint hope that the end of free Hulu might be averted. Indeed, Comcast is looking to partner with Hulu, so that could alter the equation dramatically.

You can't seriously think that adding Comcast into the loop could alter things in any way other than users having to pay more money.

I think it is pretty clear how things are going to play out. Hulu will sell out, their market share will plumet, dozens of hulu clones will pop up and still be free, the world will keep spinning, people who want free content will still get it one way or another.

Personally I don't like hulu, I would rather pay a small fee than deal with the annoying advertisements. Especially sense the advertisements keep repeating the same ones over and over. Ultimately I predict TV subscription packages will eventually get with the times and start offering whatever channels/shows you view in real time online as well for part of the same fee. Otherwise they are just going to be phased out by online content providers.

By VooDooAddict on 11/1/2009 12:12:11 PM , Rating: 2
I'll only pay if it's very cheap... and if there are no ads in the content.

I watch TV via LoggTV
By TelexView on 10/23/09, Rating: -1
RE: I watch TV via LoggTV
By MarcusX on 10/23/2009 3:40:44 PM , Rating: 3
Hmmm.. LoggTV eh?

Upon downloading the program on their website it wants you to send money via paypal for "activation." The site seems incredulous.

The only Google results I can find are comments to posts much like this one referring to it as ( ) posted by either TelexView or "Jill."

I sense a scam. Anyone have any info?

Internet Bubble 2.0
By reader1 on 10/23/09, Rating: -1
RE: Internet Bubble 2.0
By Master Kenobi on 10/23/2009 10:26:02 AM , Rating: 2
I think what your more likely to see is adds supported there as well, much like Cable for TV's. But unlike TV's the local free channels will not be required by law.

RE: Internet Bubble 2.0
By Yawgm0th on 10/23/2009 1:57:39 PM , Rating: 5
The current Internet is junk. Ads aren't enough to produce quality content. There aren't any high-quality, ad-supported sites. Ad-supported sites are all cheap and trashy, including search engines.
You must be using a different Internet.

This shift is largely due to Apple's revolutionary App Store, which was the first device to distribute web content successfully on a closed-platform.
Yep, you're definitely on a different Internet. This is appallingly inaccurate.

RE: Internet Bubble 2.0
By Bateluer on 10/26/2009 3:24:19 PM , Rating: 2
Well said. Wish DT would allow ratings lower than -1. It'd be interesting to see how low reader1's posts would go. He's either a complete troll or living in his own little world inside Rupert Murdock's closet or Steve Jobs' urinal.

RE: Internet Bubble 2.0
By SavagePotato on 10/26/2009 10:23:32 PM , Rating: 3
He is pretty close to having an overall rating below zero as well. 0.17.

It takes special levels of stupidity to get a overall post rating that low. I suspect he is an alt account of pirks. Granted pirks is stupid enough by himself I think he needed a special account for when he was really really off his meds and needing a spanking from his mommy.

RE: Internet Bubble 2.0
By maverick85wd on 10/28/2009 5:21:35 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, you're definitely on a different Internet. This is appallingly inaccurate.

I LOL'd at your wording here. Thanks for the laugh!! (And being spot on, of course)

RE: Internet Bubble 2.0
By armulyman on 10/24/2009 10:00:27 PM , Rating: 1
It's funny that you bring that up, because I was thinking about just this subject this morning:

In order for sites to exist based soley on the virtues of advertising, ad revenues must increase. In order to do that though people must pay more for the ads. Why would they pay more for the ads though? (aside from providing them with a better targeted user base)

quite simply: people must make more money selling things online. With more sites popping up like the itunes store, paid versions of hulu, (and especially penis enlargement pills), there will be a surge forward in the online economy as people become more and more comfortable spending their cash online...

we aren't looking at a bubble, only an economic transition. You can still make money on advertising.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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