Report: Hulu plans test of subscription service
Those rumors of Hulu charging its users to watch videos over the Internet look to be moving into the realm of reality.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Hulu will start trialing a $9.95 per month subscription service on May 24. Viewers would still be able to get five free episodes of shows like ABC’s “Lost,” Fox’s “Glee” or NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” according to the Times, but if they want to see more episodes, they will have to fork out the $9.95 for “Hulu Plus.”
While Hulu is second behind Google in terms of Internet videos viewed per month, it’s been contemplating a subscription fee to augment a revenue stream that is currently dependant on ad revenues.
Hulu is jointly owned by News Corp., Walt Disney and NBC Universal. If Comcast’s proposed merger with NBC Universal goes through, the nation’s largest cable operator would also have a stake in Hulu.
Comcast is serving up network shows for free to its subscribers via its Fancast and Xfinity services, while Time Warner Cable is providing a TV Everywhere-type service though programmers’ Web portals.
Hulu was able to gain such a large following because it offered network shows for free and for viewing at any time, but broadcasters and content owners may not be willing to give away their content to competing Web portals, or at the expense of the cable operator partners that they’ve formed business relationships with.