internet tv: no more free Hulu?
While this is likely barely in the development or planning stages, it would still be very inconvenient and unfortunate.
DailyFinance: Soon, you’ll have to pay for Hulu.
Speaking last night at an Internet Week event sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter, Jonathan Miller, News Corp.’s newly-installed chief digital officer, said he envisions a future where at least some of the TV shows and movies on Hulu, the premium video site co-owned by News Corp., NBC Universal and Disney, are available only to subscribers.
I’m a bit torn between “that would suck” and “well, that’s not so bad.” If they operated like cable companies where you paid to have access to premium content, same-day/real-time broadcasts or movies, that could be a good thing. But the first user-comment on the above article nails it, “The fact that executives are still trying to figure out a way to charge for content online is mind boggling to me. It doesn’t work.”
There are plenty of life hack style articles out there telling people how to get rid of cable and use the internet for their TV. Some of those articles even mention the more shady and underhanded methods–which have still proved to be barely hinderable and mostly unstoppable. I don’t really mind the small 10-15 second ads on Hulu and Joost, especially when I can queue up a bunch of Twilight Zone or Wonder Woman episodes and just let them play. For all that people say they hate having ads, I doubt many of those people are really watching them. If the ad is good enough I consider it entertainment, and it hasn’t caused me to go to Quiznos, Taco Bell or eat a Klondike bar recently.*
Things I would pay–a one-time, non-recurring fee–for would be native TiVo or PS3 streaming**, high-quality downloads and/or the option to format shows for portable devices***. Unfortunately a lot of web services and utilities act like the classic drug dealer stereotype when they go from free to pay. Your first taste has been free, now you’ll have to pay to maintain that functionality and if you’re lucky, you’ll even get a bit more for your money. I also suspect adding pay levels to what amounts to “next-day” cable in some cases will cause regular cable providers to work out their own deals for online delivery of televised content.
But really, they only need to look at the history of sites even daring to ask their users if they’d be willing to pay to use them. Facebook polls.. LJ hate groups.. it’s some bad mojo.
* The stats geek in me wonders what the average rate of return on a lot of televised ads is.
** I believe there’s a way to stream web-based video services on the PS3 now, I just forget what it is at the moment.
*** Even with DRM if they must go there.