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.

Hulu

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. :mrgreen:

* 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.

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6 Responses

  1. sean808080 says:

    Of course this was announced 5 minutes after I published a blog post about how great hulu desktop is. There are commercials on the service, I’d pay to have them eliminated otherwise it better be free!

    latest entry: Hooray for HULU desktop!

  2. Kyle says:

    Every time they raise the cost of my cable and/or threaten to charge for content online, I look longingly at my library of unread books and feel the breaking point closing in.

    I actually lived without a tv set for a year and a half in 1993-1994 and hardly missed a thing. I think I could do it again, after a couple of weeks of withdrawal.

    Hear me, content providers of the world! You’d better be free or damned cheap! I’ve got books to read.

    latest entry: nightmare on 16th street

  3. Fredo says:

    ** 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.

    I forgot the name as well, but it requires a Windows-based PC.*

    * If you wanna get technical about it, yes, Macs are PCs too.

    latest entry: The Netflix Hankie

  4. Esprix says:

    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.

    As Futurama put it:

    LEELA: Didn’t you have ads in the twentieth century?
    FRY: Well, sure, but not in our dreams. Only on TV and radio… and in magazines… and movies, and at ballgames, and on buses, and milk cartons, and T-shirts, and bananas, and written in the sky. But not in dreams, no sirree.

    latest entry: "Hello, Mel!" is so 1990’s…

  5. Esprix says:

    (And yes, I see the irony in talking about Hulu by using a clip from Hulu.)

  6. Norman says:

    The name of the software to stream Hulu through the PS3 is called PlayOn. It is a wonderful piece of software. You install it on your PC and then “broadcast” it to the PS3 as a media server. The only downfall to it is that you can’t stream any files to the PS3 with it; only Hulu, Netflix, Amazon on Demand, and YouTube. To stream video, mp3, and pictures from your PC you have to download something like PS3 Media Server or some other piece of software that allows you to do that.

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