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Hulu launches subscription service across multiple devices

Wed, 06/30/2010 - 8:35am
Mike Robuck

Hulu's long-rumored subscription service finally emerged into the light of day yesterday with the company's launch of Hulu Plus.

As expected, the service will cost $9.99 per month, but Hulu has taken a three-screen approach to make the paid service even more compelling. Hulu CEO Jason Kilar said in his blog that Hulu Plus will work with Apple's iPad, 3G iPhone, iPhone 4 and third-generation iPod Touch devices, as well as Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players from Samsung.

"I've been watching Hulu Plus on my iPad for several weeks now, and I've watched more TV through the iPad than any other device," Kilar wrote in his blog.

The Apple devices will run over 3G or Wi-Fi.

Another plus for the subscription service is that it will sync the content between devices. While cable operators have been working on their three-screen strategies for some time, Hulu has enabled a way to watch a show on one device and then pick up where you left off on another device.

Hulu Plus will also be available on PlayStation 3 gaming consoles at some point, while Xbox 360 support will be added sometime next year. Hulu Plus will stream all native HD content in 720p high-definition.

Kilar wrote in his blog that Hulu Plus wasn't a replacement for Hulu.com, but the latter struggled under the ad-supported model. Like Hulu.com, Hulu Plus will also have an ad revenue element, but Kilar didn't say if Hulu Plus would have the ad rolls at the beginning of shows like Hulu.com currently uses.

To start out, Hulu Plus will be available by invitation from its website. Hulu is also going to hand out random Hulu Plus invites to its followers on Twitter and Facebook.

"We'll be sending out as many invitations as we can each week, and as soon as we're ready, we'll remove the need for an invitation and start bringing in new subscribers without delay," Kilar wrote.

Hulu Plus will offer full seasons of most of its current broadcast shows, and subscribers will have access to every episode of the current season.

Hulu Plus will also reach back to offer full runs of shows from seasons past, including "The X-Files," "Arrested Development," "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy." Subscribers will also have access to classic skits from the first five seasons of "Saturday Night Live," as well as skits from the most recent five seasons of the show.

"This is all on top of hundreds of shows already on Hulu.com today," Kilar wrote. "It's a treasure chest in the cloud for TV lovers."

Kilar said there would be additional shows to license and other countries to expand to, but no mention was made of CBS. News Corp., Walt Disney Co. and General Electric's NBC Universal jointly own Hulu, but Comcast could become an owner if its merger with NBC Universal goes through.

Speaking on a panel at The Cable Show last month, CBS President and CEO Les Moonves reiterated his company's stance that making its shows available to Hulu didn't make monetary sense, but earlier this month there were rumors that Hulu was in negotiations with CBS, Time Warner, which is supporting its own TV Everywhere services, and Viacom.

While Hulu has been successful in attracting Internet users in the U.S. to its website, the content isn't available in countries such as Canada because Hulu doesn't have permission from the content owners to stream videos to users there.

AT&T's U-Verse Online Web portal features free shows from Hulu.

More Broadband Direct 6/30/10:

•  Interop moves cable closer to advanced advertising
•  Hulu launches subscription service across multiple devices
•  Detroit sues Comcast
•  Starz, Comcast ink new carriage agreement
•  AT&T amps up U-verse mosaic app
•  Shaw posts healthy profit in Q3
•  Cisco to launch iPad-like tablet for office use
•  AdMob: iPhone, Android grow mobile Web usage
•  Broadband Briefs for June 30, 2010
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