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October 23, 2009

Hulu to charge subscription fee

Posted: 12:23 PM ET

Popular online video service Hulu will start charging subscription fees sometime next year, says News Corp. Deputy Chairman Chase Carey.

While speaking at a recent Broadcasting & Cable summit Carey announced his plans for Hulu: “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. Hulu concurs with that, it needs to evolve to have a meaningful subscription model as part of its business.” has attracted a large online audience by offering commercial-supported TV shows and movies from NBC, ABC, Fox, and other networks since 2007. However, the addition of a subscription fee may send most of Hulu's users searching for alternatives.

I use Hulu frequently to watch everything from Comedy Central's "Daily Show" to Fox's "Family Guy." I stomach the commercial interruptions in exchange for the high-quality streaming content, but I certainly won't be pulling out my credit card if the service puts up a subscription pay wall. And I doubt many other customers will be happy to start paying money for a service they previously received for free.

The move to a fee-based business model is a decision that will still have to be approved by the Hulu board, and I hope someone has the sense to blackball this idea. But common sense doesn't always prevail in the entertainment industry -  if it did, we might still have "Arrested Development."

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Filed under: HDTV • Hulu • online news • online video

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Pung   December 16th, 2009 12:47 pm ET

Hulu, listen up, I have your solution. Everyone has been trying to get Hulu on their tv. By boxee or apple tv or any other way they can. And you've blocked them. Here's why you blocked them: You're going to make a $200 dollar hulu box. With Wi-fi and HDMI and make it slim, so I can tuck it behind my flatscreen tv mount. There's some additional revenue right there. You can charge more to advertisers, because it's not internet pre-roll you're selling, it's actual TV commercials which are worth 10x as much. The box will become the must have device for Christmas 2010. Don't forget Amazon, Netflix, and Slingbox like capability, which you can also skim a little off the top. Also think about: Skype video calls on your tv, an HBO subcription, Storage for music and pictures, an Optical Out for surround sound. You can single-handedly kill cable. Someone will do it eventually – apple just may beat you to it.

JackSchidt   December 21st, 2009 12:07 am ET

never has my online name been more appropriate to describe something as this–ive used hulu forever-i just spend the 15 second breaks loading another page, or lighting up a smoke–but hulu doesn't know jackschidt if they think im gonna pay money in this economy for the equivalent of two cable subscriptions. i like so many others will just go to the network sites or torrent somebodys tivo of the episodes i wanna see.

Jean   December 23rd, 2009 11:20 pm ET

Why hulu y? Now, i'm forced to watch shows on vlc via download :(

CB   December 28th, 2009 5:57 pm ET

I'll be saying goodbye to Hulu.

ridwanzero   December 29th, 2009 2:10 am ET

never has my online name been more appropriate to describe something as this–ive used hulu forever-i just spend the 15 second breaks loading another page, or lighting up a smoke–but hulu doesn't know jackschidt if they think im gonna pay money in this economy for the equivalent of two cable subscriptions. i like so many others will just go to the network sites or torrent somebodys tivo of the episodes i wanna see........


JackSchidt   December 29th, 2009 8:27 am ET

hey ridwanzero-why did you just copy and paste my comment as yours?

Josh   January 11th, 2010 12:02 am ET

Watch all the time, but that will likely stop when they make the move.

Addi   February 1st, 2010 2:44 am ET

I agree with everyone here. To have to pay + endure the commercials, no matter how short? Peace out. (As much as I appreciate and enjoy Hulu now.)

brad dee   April 5th, 2010 7:06 am ET

A subscription service might be OK, if the HULU producers figure out a way to keep the streaming continuous without buffering every 5 minutes.

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Jim77777   June 21st, 2010 12:16 pm ET

I only watch cable TV when it is available at the resorts I live in when I am on vacation for a month or so. So, I could say I can compare free TV with basic cable that sells for around $100 a month.

I am amazed that anyone would pay for basic cable considering the long and frequent commercials as compared to free TV. In the last 10 years, the commercials have become longer and longer. It is like the frog in a pot of hot water. You cable users are being cooked and not knowing it.

Cable was to be pay to view and no commercials.

How does hulu support itself now and being free? Sounds very greedy to me.

I was going to put hulu on my TV and up grade from DSL just for hulu. But now I will sit on the whole idea and see how it shakes out. I'm tired of bait and switch and nickle and dime me to death. They need me, I don't need them.

Johnny B   June 24th, 2010 8:30 pm ET

The problem you all do not realize is that if the broadcasters do not get their money (contract revenue) from places like cable companies because their subscriber base is looking elsewhere for programming, what makes you think they will not up the contract with companies like hulu to make up this difference? Where will the money come from that hulu earns if they do not charge their customers? This is what happens when you stop paying companies for services that is necessary and fuel the economy. No wonder U.S. is in the slumps, no one wants to put money back into the ecomony.

Katsura   June 25th, 2010 8:22 am ET

Why should this be free? The major broadcast networks are even toying with the idea of going to a fee based service instead of broadcasting for free. Ad revenue isnt what it once was and companies are not making enough with that as their sole source of income. Hulu is a business but people here act as if it is a not for profit organization. I hear complaints of stale programming not updated frequently enough followed by a complaint that they may begin to charge for the service. You can't even get a dvr from a cable company for $5 a month, and to watch fancast you have to already be paying for that channel along with the internet subscription fee, all in all what hulu is talking about here doesnt seem to be a big deal. I am not surprised that people are complaining though, it's typical of the culture of entitlement we find ourselves in. Considering how much has been stolen from these companies online this isnt a big deal.

Joe   June 25th, 2010 10:48 am ET

Gotta love when people who work at Hulu come on here to argue the merits of charging the consumer base for something that was free. They have increased advertising inventory and can charge a premium to advertisers for targeting, they should add another way to purchase via hulu instead of charging by "channel". Give advertisers the right to choose property or their own "channel mix" at a slightly higher CPM and they will have more than enough revenue.

I just don't see the value of what they are offering given that they are adding additional advertising on the service at a higher CPM then they recieve via TV. Add in the additional feedback users can give ads and just make it a login required to access the content.

But the real reason they are charging is because they don't want ondemand TV to be successful, they make the majority of their money via scheduled live viewing on the regular TV/cable model. They made their own threat to that model which is smarter than letting someone else do it...but someone high up got scared and wanted to either slow down the transition or kill it by adding a subscription fee.

All i gotta say is good luck network TV you had a good transition and you are working to kill it...How dumb can you be?

John   June 25th, 2010 9:54 pm ET

First off, I have heard NOTHING regarding regular, broadcast networks (over the air) wanting to charge us for the right to see over-the-air broadcasts. I somehow sense some B.S.

Secondly, to Joe–you are the most intelligent response i have seen on this thread yet.

Simply put, it all boils down to one word–greed. The multi-BILLION dollar entertainment companies aren't satisfied with BILLIONS now, they want to make MORE. Lest Hollywood executives forget, they are a business. We are the customers. THEY work for US. We will find ways to get our entertainment elsewhere if we are not satisfied with the quality and cost of what we get through them.

Francesca Webb   June 30th, 2010 1:51 pm ET

Public Relations is all about pleasing the common people.:",

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J   January 2nd, 2011 7:48 pm ET

Bye Hulu, Not paying to watch commercials. Not paying for a subscription either.

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I don't know how Chase Carey made as long as he did without having to charge. Nothing good in life is free. I hope this works for Hulu. I happen
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