Hulu unveils paid


Hulu has posted an invitation on its website for people to inquire about subscribing to a new paid service, Hulu Plus. The move came after a Bloomberg reporter purchased an LED television that included an invitation to try the until-then secret service.

It had been widely rumored that Hulu was working on a premium subscription service to augment its advertising-supported service which is free to consumers. When a Bloomberg reporter purchased a Samsung HD receiver last week at a Best Buy store, it came with a pitch for a high-definition Hulu Plus service at $9.99 per month. A story appeared on Bloomberg Monday and on Tuesday the Hulu site unveiled Hulu Plus.

The pitch for the new service is that consumers can watch every episode of top shows from ABC, NBC and Fox, whose parent companies are all investors in Hulu along with Providence Equity Partners. Not only will subscribers be able to see every show from the current season – not just the few most recent ones available on the free site – but it also offers “rich library content” allowing subscribers to watch episodes on demand from past seasons of many series, whether they are currently airing or not. The pitch claims the library offering covers more than 20,000 episodes of a broad spectrum of TV shows.

RBR-TVBR observation: To get people to pay for content on the Internet you have to provide content that they can’t get anywhere else – and that they would want. This fits the bill. No doubt there are many people who will be willing to part with 10 bucks a month to have access to thousands of current and past TV shows. That doesn’t take away from the appeal of the free site, which will draw many, many more people to watch ad-supported reruns when they miss an episode of a favorite program.