March 2008, Hulu has been offering guests a wealth of free TV
episodes from parent companies NBC Universal (General Electric), Fox
Entertainment Group (News Corp) and ABC
Inc. (The Walt Disney Company). Well, they're not totally
free -- you have to watch the occasional ad. Still, the premise
has been a hit, rocketing Hulu to short list of elite websites that
includes the likes of YouTube and Facebook. The
last few months of 2009 were a happy one for Hulu -- it enjoyed
profitable quarter. Despite that success, early this year
rumor popped up that Hulu was going to start charging
subscriptions for at least some of its content.The only
difference is that this time the rumor appears to be true.
Starting in May, Hulu will reportedly air a $9.95
monthly subscription service. It will continue to offer a
bit of free content -- the five most recent episodes of popular shows
like Fox's "Glee," "ABC's "Lost" or NBC's
"Saturday Night Live".The crucial difference will
be that the current vast library of past episodes and content will be
closed off from non-subscribers, accessible only if you pay the
monthly fee.That may be acceptable, considering the average
Hulu episode has less commercials than the average TV episode.
But that's the other piece of bad news -- Hulu is reportedly
considering upping its number of commercials in the near future as
well.Ultimately the subscription fee isn't horribly high.
However, it will certainly turn some away from the internet's second
most popular video site. And it will make it harder for users
to share content, a major source of Hulu's popularity. The
networks are intent on increasing their profits and bringing the Hulu
revenue more in line with the cable offerings. However, if they
load the episodes with commercials, on top of the planned
subscription fee, they just might find that internet users aren't
quite as interested.