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Hulu will be cutting users off from much of its content in May. To gain access to older content, they will now have to pay a subscription fee. More ads are coming soon, as well.
Customers will have to pony up $9.95 in order to see a comprehensive selection of the season's episodes; more ads coming, too

Since 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 its first profitable quarter.  Despite that success, early this year the reoccurring 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.





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