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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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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.


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