Hulu launches subscription service


Hulu has been quietly experimenting with a subscription service with more content than its free ad-supported offerings since summer. Now Hulu Plus has officially launched – and the price has been reduced a bit.

When we reported on the Hulu Plus test drive back in June the monthly subscription price was $9.99. Now, with the official launch, that’s come down to $7.99.

Hulu is billing Hulu Plus as “the first and only internet video subscription service to stream full current seasons and a deep library of back seasons of hit TV shows from ABC, FOX, NBC, and more, in HD, to computers, internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players, set-top boxes, mobile phones, and tablets, all for $7.99 per month.”

Hulu Plus will be available through a wide variety of devices that have an installed base of over 50 million in the US. “No matter when and where a TV lover wants to catch the latest episode of House, Saturday Night Live, or Family Guy – whether it’s in the office, in the living room, or on the go – Hulu Plus is there,” the company proclaimed.

Platforms include:
Connected TV and Blu-Ray players: Samsung, Sony BRAVIA HDTVs and connected Blu-ray Disc Players, and coming soon: LG Electronics, Panasonic, VIZIO

Connected Set-top Boxes:  Roku, Sony Network Media Player, and coming soon: TiVo Premiere DVRs, Western Digital’s WD TV Live Hub Media Center and WD TV Live Plus Network Media Player

Gaming Consoles: PlayStation 3 (as shown in the photo), and coming soon: Xbox 360

Mobile Devices: Apple iPad, iPhone, iPod touch

Other network appliances:  Sony Dash

HD-available programs will stream to users in 720p high definition on HD-capable devices. Hulu will continue to announce additional supported devices and platforms in the coming months.

“We’re proud to offer consumers the best of current TV on their terms. With Hulu Plus, it’s now possible to watch any episode from the current season of water cooler shows like Glee, Modern Family, 30 Rock and dozens more; whenever and wherever they want.,” said Hulu CEO Jason Kilar.

By the way, early adopters who subscribed during the preview period will be getting a credit for the difference from the $9.99 preview price to be applied automatically to their next billing cycle. Effective with the November 17 official launch, all new subscribers to Hulu Plus receive a 1-week free trial.

What’s on the subscription service that’s not available for free on Hulu? Hulu Plus offers full current and back seasons of both current and classic hit TV shows to subscribers in the US. TV fans can instantly stream any episode of current broadcast network shows such as Glee, Family Guy, Grey’s Anatomy, Modern Family, 30 Rock, House, and The Office all season long. In addition, TV lovers will be able to enjoy full series runs and numerous back seasons of classic shows like The X-Files , Arrested Development, Desperate Housewives, Battlestar Galactica, Monk, Psych, Saturday Night Live, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Ugly Betty, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and dozens more. The company said the Hulu Plus library has grown by thousands of videos during its preview and will add more titles in the months to come.

Hulu, founded in 2007, is owned by NBC Universal, News Corporation, The Walt Disney Company, Providence Equity Partners and the Hulu employee team.

RBR-TVBR observation: It will be interesting to see how many Americans are willing to pay yet another video entertainment fee for access to a deep library of content. Hulu is still primarily an advertising-supported business, but having a second revenue stream will be important for the anticipated IPO.