Hulu Will Start Charging For Content Soon

As board member Jon Miller forecasted a few months ago, streaming video powerhouse Hulu plans to start charging for content soon. Subscription-based? Pay per use? Nobody knows. What we do know is that the Consumerist community wasn’t fond of the idea back in June. [Entertainment Weekly]

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  1. TopcatF14B says:

    Do not want…

  2. your new nemesis says:

    Yeah, i am not sure this will go over so well. Will they stop playing commercials then? I guess then they would be more related to netflix, but most of the allure of the site was the price, or lack therefore of.

    • SuperRad says:

      @skizsrodt: You really think they are gonna stop paying for commercials? dude they are gonna be just like cable tv. You pay for TV but you still have a buttload of commercials. on some tv services, when your viewing the program guide, they also display banner ad’s. They are out to make money. I bet commercials will still be there.

      • teh says:

        @SuperRad: Yes, but cable TV at least has better quality.

        Most of the shows that they had were available on the content provider websites (i.e. nbc.com) — I wonder if these will continue to be free.

      • zandar says:

        @SuperRad: Precisely, we already have swallowed the fee-plus-commercial model, no way are they retreating on that front.

    • bohemian says:

      @skizsrodt: I still have a HULU account but we have never actually watched anything on it. Most of the content was a duplication of shows the various networks already had for free on their websites.

      There is no way I would pay for it.

  3. G.O.B.: Come on! says:

    And people will just go back to torrenting. Good stuff, Hulu.

    • XTC46 says:

      @G.O.B.: Come on!: Hulu NEEDs to make money. Streaming video costs money and Ad revenue for the site probabaly isnt that great, so charging for content is the next step.

      Most likely, they will do a free membership which offers some stuff, and a premier membership that offers everything.

      The way I assumed they would do it is the free membership can watch the shows they have currently, but they only have access to say two of the last episodes, but not the most recent episode (so if episode 10 shows today, they will have access to ep. 9 and 8) the most recent episode will be delayed a week. And Premier members will have access to ALL episodes of a season.

      There will likely be select shows that are members only (becasue some shows just dont generate the profit needed to pay for their bandwidth).

      • superberg says:

        @xtc46 – thinksmarter on twitter: Hulu needs to make money. No one is refuting this. But Hulu is a supplement to these provider’s regular broadcasts (with a few exceptions, like Dr. Horrible). They already make a profit via the regular airings.

        Besides, people are freaking out about the cost of streaming, which breaks down to pennies per view/user. If it cost more than that, the model simply wouldn’t be viable. It’s not like they’re hosting it on a shared GoDaddy server and paying $2/TB.

      • karmaghost says:

        @xtc46 – thinksmarter on twitter: I’m not sure if you’ve visited Hulu lately, but a lot of the shows they feature on there now are only available in limited quantities. For instance, a previous season of one show may be incomplete, compelling you to buy the DVD set to watch the missing episodes and defeating the entire purpose of the site. Another example would be a show like SNL, where they don’t post full episodes, but instead post “clips.” These clips cannot be put together into full episodes even if you wanted to.

        NBC et al is forgetting all the reasons why they launched Hulu; no one was watching their shows on TV, they were downloading shows they were interested in from bittorrent, and people who did watch on TV were using DVRs to skip commercials. Hulu owners need to remember Napster and how when people had something for free and then were charged for it, they completely rejected it. History repeats itself; I’m not sure why Hulu thinks it will be the exception to the rule.

        • pharmacyfires says:

          @karmaghost: Just FYI, SNL started posting full episodes this season.

          • Sunshine1970 says:

            @pharmacyfires: They’re not exactly full episodes of SNL. They’re missing some things, such as this past Saturday’s show with Gerard Butler, there was no monologue because Butler was singing Music of the Night from Phantom. NBC/SNL probably doesn’t have any distribution rights to the song, so the had to cut it. I didn’t see Shakira’s performance watching it, either, so I don’t think the music guests are in any of the ‘net showings, either.

    • gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

      @G.O.B.: Come on!: yeah, my thought was “aaand hulu is now dead.”

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @G.O.B.: Come on!: The majority of people who watch stuff on Hulu probably don’t torrent. If Hulu starts charging money, and it was worth it, I would pay, but I would never torrent.

      • Illusio26 says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: What are you basing that on? I think people use hulu because it’s easier than torrenting. But if they went to charging, people would just go back to torrents.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          @Illusio26: I think the problem here is that the people who torrent regularly or used to are a subset of the larger entertainment demographic. I don’t know the numbers as to how many torrenters watch Hulu, but I think there are risks in assuming that most people watch Hulu in lieu of torrenting when it’s very possible that a significant amount of people (possibly the majority) don’t torrent at all.

          We get stuck in our tech bubbles and when we’re surrounded by people who know the same things we do, we assume that everyone does the same thing. I was surprised that about 10% of people still have dial-up internet – but then again, everyone around me has had high speed internet for the past ten years. I eventually just start assuming that nearly everyone had it, and it was very common.

    • EllisDees says:

      @G.O.B.: Come on!:

      Exactly correct. Hulu is the main reason I stopped torrenting (except for the shows that I can’t get throught Hulu), and if they start charging, I will just go back to downloading them. It’s only slightly less convenient, and they will get zero ad revenue.

    • Osi says:

      @G.O.B.: Come on!:

      Torrents or newsgroups. Hulu is now officially a POS.

    • arsonisfun says:

      @G.O.B.: Come on!:
      Hit the nail on the head.

      if they can turn a profit via hulu without charging money, they should. the viewership will plummet if they start to charge (unless it is something very reasonable, like $5/month maybe), which will no doubt impact ad revenue.

    • lmarconi says:

      @G.O.B.: Come on!: I don’t torrent, but I do like to stream video since my schedule is such that I miss a lot of prime time TV when it’s on (and I’m one of the last people on earth to not have Tivo). Personally I love that the major networks seem to be making full episodes available online through Hulu or their website with limited commercials. I choose to watch on the legitimate sites when what I want to watch is available, even though there’s limited commercials. But hell, if they’re going to charge me for it, I’m following sketchy links to megavideo and they can say goodbye to their online ad revenue. Stupid business, really.

      • Toffeecake says:

        @lmarconi: I don’t have Tivo either; we actually only just got basic cable a few months ago. I used to torrent, but only if I had missed several episodes of a show so I could download them all at once. I still use torrents to get Law and Order: SVU though, since they don’t even have those episodes on the NBC website. I’ll probably stop watching a lot of shows rather than pay for Hulu.

  4. LeChiffre says:

    I am going to miss their format. I signed on last Christmas and I felt like I was the only one watching Hulu at the time. It was cool to be a beginner for this service and in fact, there was only one commercial and it got played to the point that it drove me nuts. It was that “inventor’s” commerical. The next commercial that got aired was “feed the pig”.

    • LeChiffre says:

      @LeChiffre: Correction. I think that “inventor’s” comm was for another site because it went on too long, but the “feed the pig” comm was hilarious to me.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @LeChiffre: Then tell the site you dislike the ad. If you mouse over the left hand side while an ad is on you can see a thumbs up and thumbs down button.

    • Preyfar says:

      @LeChiffre: The commercial that annoys the hell out of me right now is the “Asics” commercial, which shows a jogger running on clouds of liquid fat, and it’s more like a drug trip than anything.

      That’s the ONLY commercial that they currently play for me, too.

  5. AppleAlex says:

    All I ever remembering seeing from Hulu was a bunch of 2 minute clips from episodes. nothing worth paying for

  6. destynova says:

    I’ve got mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I like how Hulu operates right now. I’ve ditched cable entirely. I get my TV through sites like Hulu, and certainly don’t miss the gratuitous commercials. I can deal with the tiny amount of commercials for the free on-demand shows and movies. If they want to start charging for the content, then it’s back to finding other various (unmentionable) means for getting the TV shows.

    But, I could see why they wanted to offer some sort of premium service. Maybe charging a couple bucks a month for access without any commercials at all. But if they’re going to do that, then they’d better do away with their “We can only show five rolling episodes” restrictions. And expand their line-up. If they play their cards right, keep the costs down, and offer next-day TV shows, I could see them competing with Netflix and other similar pay services. (But I’d still want to see them release the TV shows for free, maybe on a week delay or something.)

    • LeChiffre says:

      @destynova: If any of you want foreign TV, try this site: [beelinetv.com]

      I kind of know French, so I like to watch the French sports channel to bone up on my language skills because it is better than a classroom. And this is real French so you learn the real language, not the book kind. Anyway, it’s cool to surf also especially if you have your pc hook up to a tv. You can find almost any kind of foreign tv that you want.

      • bohemian says:

        @LeChiffre: If the BBC made all of their channels of content that are on the web in the UK available for a fee in the US, that is about the only one I would pay for. Trying to find a proxy to get into it is a total pain.

        • floraposte says:

          @bohemian: I would pony up for an overseas subscription in a minute–just the iPlayer service would be fine. (In case you didn’t know, you can do the Listen Again for the radio stuff, at least.) Would the licensing really be that hard to work out? Come on, BBC!

        • Sunshine1970 says:

          @bohemian: Agreed. I’d pay for BBC but I won’t pay for Hulu. I’ve already got Netflix so why should I pay for two different services?

          Also I have a DVR with my cable subscription, and free on demand, so why do I really need to pay for Hulu?

  7. flyingember says:

    Their content is 90% junk. Almost the entire movie section is movies no one watches.

    The only shows worth watching are new episodes and those are all on torrents too.

    If they want people to pay they need to kill the “last 5 only” or “one week later” limits and
    change from streaming to saved downloads. Their site skips really bad at times which is only worth free.

  8. XTC46 says:

    There is no way to avoid this. Hosting streaming media is expensive, you need tons of storage space, TONS of bandwidth, servers to host it all, and people to maintian it all. Ad revenue for specific shows is not going to be good sinec the demographic most likely to watch streaming video online is also the group that typically doesnt click on Ad (since they are so used to them) That is changing, but for now, to be profiable they need to sell the content.

    • Rachacha says:

      @xtc46 – thinksmarter on twitter: But with Hulu ads, the advertiser knows that the viewer is watching (it is hard to get up and take a bathroom break during a single 30 second commercial), and if Hulu were realy smart, they could target the ads to the particular viewer, and therefore charge much more for the ad.

      Because of the feedback that it offers, online adverising will soon be worth more than traditional television advertisements.

    • karmaghost says:

      @xtc46 – thinksmarter on twitter: My argument is this: if you cannot support your business with your product, then your business will fail. So, if Hulu cannot maintain a website where they stream network shows supplemented with commercials and must charge their viewers, that’s fine with me. They must, then, be prepared for utter failure, which is almost assured given what little we now know.

      Google has no problem maintaining a massive streaming website like YouTube, so such an enterprise isn’t impossible. I just don’t understand why NBC thinks it’s a good idea to take a previously free service and start charging users for its content.

      • Esquire99 says:

        @karmaghost:
        YouTube doesn’t have to pay for content. I think you’re forgetting that these shows cost money (lots of it) to produce and there are royalties and residuals that have to be paid to the actors, etc. YouTube is much easier to operate because it’s based almost solely on user-submissions.

        • loudambiance says:

          @Esquire99: Hulu doesn’t pay for content either, they have a owned by the content providers

          “Hulu is a joint venture of NBC Universal (GE), Fox Entertainment Group (News Corp) and ABC Inc. (The Walt Disney Company)[2], with funding by Providence Equity Partners, which made a US$100 million equity investment and holds a 19% stake.[3]“
          [en.wikipedia.org]

          • dragonfire81 says:

            I do not understand why people believe they should be entitled to FREE content WITHOUT having to put up with ads. In the case of a TV show especially, it’s the ads that pay for the content.

            You should be able to either pay and get it without ads or watch ads and get it free, but you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

            • drizzt380 says:

              @dragonfire81:
              Who said they expected free content without ads?
              The closest thing I see to that is people saying that if they pay they don’t want ads. Many people are perfectly fine with ads included in free content.

              And while you say we can’t have our cake and eat it too, isn’t that what companies have been doing for years? You pay to get channels with tons of ads?

            • Eric Y. says:

              @dragonfire81:

              I will either pay a fee for a subscription service with no ads, or I will watch for free and sit through ads.

              I don’t think paying customers should also have to watch ads–that’s why I ditched cable. If Hulu starts charging AND requiring you to sit through ads I will ditch them too. There are other ways to get free TV, though I would rather stay legit.

        • Illusio26 says:

          @Esquire99: But that doesn’t really apply to the original posters comment, which he was replying too. People are arguing the bandwidth/storage argument, and I don’t think it’s as valid as it was 5 years ago.

          • dragonfire81 says:

            In my view it’s along the same lines of movie theatres that charge you for a ticket then make you watch 8 minutes of ads before the movie previews start.

            Yes, Hulu does get some money from ads, but not enough to be financially viable. In order for them to be viable, it’s more than likely that you will have to deal with a paid subscription and ads, although I suppose this would be entirely dependent on the number of people who do pay.

            I’m sure Hulu is also aware that by going to a free service to a paid service there will be a loss of customers. This should have been factored into to any “paid model” business plan they came up with. It’s naive to think if they switch to a pay model that everyone who visits now will just dutifully pony up the bucks to keep watching.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @karmaghost: Uh, Google is losing about $1.65 million on YouTube every day because YouTube can’t turn a profit. [news.slashdot.org]

    • H3ion says:

      @xtc46 – thinksmarter on twitter: The practice of charging for content will definitely spread. Newsday has announced a $5/month charge for online access. Others will probably follow. If a site can’t make it financially using advertising, they’ll have to charge and, of course, that will reduce their “viewership” so they’ll eventually reduce content, and so on. There was a time when standard cable was almost all commercial free. Heck, there was a time when FM radio was almost all commercial free.

      One of the big tests will be whether or not the aggregators (Drudge Report, Huffington Post and the like) will be required to pay copyright fees for content. Pretty soon, only the browsers will be free, and they used to be pretty expensive.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @xtc46 – thinksmarter on twitter: Hulu ads aren’t clickable anyway, are they? I know some ads on ABC’s site are.

      • ScarletsWalk says:

        @Rectilinear Propagation: Yeah, they’re clickable. I’ve clicked them accidentally and they launch in a new tab and pause the video.

        This is horrible, horrible, horrible news. I love hulu. If they were just going to do tiered memberships, offering paid people something awesome, then great. But I suspect they’re going to gut their own product in order to save it.

        I would watch 8 minutes of commercials like regular tv.

        I too would prefer to do things the legit way, but if you make it impossible for me, then… well… I guess there’s fancast and the individual network and show sites, for now.

        I love hulu, but I’m not paying to watch old 21 Jump Street re-runs.

  9. Alex Morse says:

    If it’s cheap enough and they improve their player, it’s worth it. They have a TON of shows, and several you can watch new episodes the day after broadcast. If it’s not very cheap, you might as well just stick with cable.

    This is compounded by the fact that your cable internet company may be throttling your traffic to them anyway…

  10. AHobbit says:

    I’m really sorry to hear this =[

    I guess this means no more late night Hulu watching in my room before I go to bed. It was nice being able to watch shows that I normally aren’t able to catch…guess i’m going to have to start using my DVR more =/

    I guess we’ll just have to see if they go through with it this time..

  11. idip says:

    Whatever the reason they are changing it, it appears that I’m still going to drop them from my viewing habits.

  12. Razor512 says:

    they will go out of business if they do this.

    It is very easy for people to download tv shows for free and with out the ads. but they move to hulu because it is free but ad supported but instant on demand.

    I pay for cable tv and have DVR and get the same shows on the DVR the only problem is I like watching tv while using the computer and I like all of the sound to come through my headphones. with hulu I can do this which is more convenient, but I have no problem with grabbign a small snack then taking some time off to sit in front of the tv and watch the recorded tv show on the dvr (with the added benefit of the content not being a week behind like hulu in many cases and I can skip commercials)

    compared to what I have, hulu is not worth it.

    there online and there many sites offering free viewing of tv shows. you cant charge for tv shows and not even give the quality and promptness of the free services. if you want to charge for something, it has to be better than the free stuff

    a week late and 480p is not value when there charging for the service. especially when many other sites and tv groups are offering the same shows commercial free and 1080I (which is encoded in 1080p to get rid of the interlacing, and ready for watching within an hour of the show on tv ending)
    if hulu wants to charge then they need to increase their quality to at least 720P and have the shows available for watching the moment they become available on tv and also keep all episodes up (because their current assholeness is removing the shows after a few weeks so if you want to get into a new show, you cant, for example there many shows that I want to start watching but I cant because hulu only has like 5-10 episode of the show that has over 70 episodes

    hulu is just becoming greedy.

    a better option will be a subscription where you pay a monthly fee and get to watch the shows with no ads

    • Osi says:

      @Razor512:

      I dropped cable years ago due to the spam AKA commercials. I already paid for the episodes and movies, I did NOT pay for the spam. Why pay the cable scum for a DVR rental, when they should NOT be shoving spam down your throat in the first place?

      newsgroups for the win. Cable companies lost monies, so did the greedy MPAA. If they don’t like it, they should think with their brains, not their wallet.

    • pot_roast says:

      @Razor512: “hulu is just becoming greedy.”
      Nah. The ‘content providers’ are greedy, and are just dragging Hulu down into their depths.

    • rickn99 says:

      “hulu is just becoming greedy.”

      Ah, the old “we’re no longer getting something for free, so they’re just being greedy” trope.

      I think their concept is wrong and doomed to fail, but I don’t begrudge them for trying to make a profit. I have no right to get free stuff from them. but, at the same time, I have no need to pay for their product either.

    • aguacarbonica says:

      @Razor512:

      Call me a pessimist but why do I have the feeling that the first thing that Hulu is going to do after starting to charge is try to hunt down alternate websites to protect its territory. The biggest thing that Itunes has going for it is the comparative ease and safety. If it gets too difficult to hunt down other mediums, people will forget that they were pissed. They will grumble and then they will pay.

      That’s what happened with Itunes. People got scared of illegal downloading, and the less risky, easier to find websites started to dry up. That really sucks.

  13. OrsonBarracuda says:

    I would be fine with paying an affordable price for content. I want to pay for what I consume. But first off, I will not support Hulu if they make like the movie theaters and up ticket prices while they subject me to advertisements before the movie starts. If Hulu charges, there MUST NOT be advertisements, and there cannot be DRM. You can only inconvenience me in one way. I only have so many holes.

    They need to understand that the success of Hulu is NOT access, but convenience. There is no longer a reason to tether consumers to a timeslot. Once Hulu becomes sufficiently inconvenient or pricey, the cost-benefit analysis drives users to buy a TV Tuner card or cave to the temptation of torrents et al.

    Hulu needs to understand that most of its users are already paying for cable tv. Most internet monopolies (TimeWarner, Comcast) only offer high speed internet as part of a digital cable package. Therefore, Hulu is just a competitor for TiVo and OnDemand, not my cable tv provider. The fees need to be competitive with these services both in terms of cost and control over content. Otherwise, they will be replaced.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @OrsonBarracuda: Yep. I will EITHER watch commercials OR pay, but I will not do both.

      I like Hulu because it’s easy to use and it’s a legit way to watch shows where someone gets compensated.

      If they make it hard (weird plug-ins, stuttering loads), or force me to pay, I just won’t watch anymore. I don’t have cable, I won’t do torrents, I’ll just quit watching entirely. It turns out to not be the end of the world.

  14. VOIDMunashii says:

    This makes me a sad panda. I love Hulu as it is, but if this is what they feel they need to do to succeed, I wish them luck. I will miss them though.

  15. ChemicallyInert says:

    I understand the need to be profitable. Let’s not forget though, in order to be profitable you also need to actually sell something people want to buy. If I’m paying for Hulu, I have several demands that I’m suddenly entitled to make (with some limited compromise between them):

    1. I expect more popular shows- like “Top Chef”, none of this nonsense about “Only one episode from Bravo is available every month”. This goes as far as a much greater selection than stuff I can get on antenna as well.

    2. I expect no ads. Ever. This was the promise of cable television and this was quickly broken. This was also the model of newspapers for the longest time- look where it’s gotten them.

    3. A la carte won’t work for television. You can offer program selection and bundle offers, but the moment it’s pay per episode you’re competing with the iTunes Store- good luck with that.

    4. You don’t have to come to my house and hook things up to a massive local cable infrastructure. I expect it to be cheaper than cable.

    5. I expect live streaming news channels to be on offer (even if I have to pay extra). CNN, Fox, Al-Jazeerah English (Comcast won’t give it to me and they’re the only game in town), and MSNBC.

    6. You have to let me use your website when I’m overseas. If I have to pay a monthly fee, I want it to work every month I’m paying.

    Like I said, I’m willing to compromise on any of these to some degree in favor of the others, but profitability is no excuse to offer unsaleable product that cannot compete with other alternatives. They have a good thing going, and I predict they will ruin it.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @ChemicallyInert: 1. That’s more Bravo’s fault than Hulu’s though it’ll be up to Hulu to make them stop being stupid.

      2. Agreed

      3. AGREED. In fact, non-negotiable. I’m not paying for the sci-fi channel on Hulu and then the animation channel separately.

      4. Agreed

      5. I hadn’t even thought of this but they’ve had live events on Hulu before so I suppose it’s possible

      6. Agreed

  16. ZzFDKzZ says:

    Oh well no big loss. Back to Torrents and Netflix.

  17. Thaddeus says:

    It’s just like a drug dealer: You get a taste for free but then you got to pay… this time it just happened to be nineteen months of free internet crack. Then paying.

  18. mewyn dyner says:

    I suggest the people of Hulu read the book Free by Chris Anderson. If they start charging, their viewership will drop so dramatically that they won’t know what hit them, and they will find themselves in a heap of trouble. With the free model, you can’t just jump from free to paid, people won’t stand for it. A freemium model works ok, but if you start with ad supported, you’d better stick with that, otherwise you’re going to go into a sinkhole.

  19. ein727 says:

    I will not pay for Hulu. Period.

    Do the Hulu people not know about Limewire and whatnot?
    Seriously, they have their ads throughout the shows. Maybe if they dropped some of the crap from their site it would cost less to operate.

    Do people really watch the movies on there? I alway just watch the TV shows.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @ein727: I’ve watched a few. When I’m just sort-of browsing for something to watch, I’ll sometimes come across a movie I haven’t seen (or haven’t seen in 10 years) and I’ll give it a shot while I grade papers or do light housework.

      But, obviously, I’m not nearly committed enough to the movies to pay for them. It’s just background noise, I could probably turn on the radio and get the same effect.

    • fatetwister64 says:

      @ein727: Limewire? What is this 2003? Fire up Bearshare while your at it.

      • Mecharine says:

        @fatetwister64: You guys are walking into a trap. Limewire, bearshare ,all of em are riddled with virus’ and corporate snoops.

        Its either DirectConnect, IRC or torrents if you really want to play it safe.

      • ein727 says:

        @fatetwister64: …see it’s been a long time since I’ve had to download things. If this Hulu thing happens I’ll have to see what the shiny new program out there is.

        BTW, I limewired some stuff about 2 years ago or so and it was clean. Like anything, you just have to watch what you’re doing.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @ein727: Most people don’t want to resort to illegal means for some TV. I really don’t understand why people keep screaming that P2P or torrenting is the answer. When will you all get it through your skulls that there are people who aren’t as glib about downloading illegally and won’t do it because …gasp..it’s illegal!

      • ScarletsWalk says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: Plus with hulu there’s no blurred out bug in the corner, no worries about if it’s pr0n or infected or compatible with your system. The credits aren’t clipped off. There’s no waiting, no searching, no Chinese subtitles. It’s great quality.

      • Illusio26 says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: As great as the view must be from your high horse, I don’t think the majority of the people in the US care that much. Especially for content they are used to getting for free (like TV shows)

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          @Illusio26: What’s so “high horse” about not doing things illegally? Why is TV so important that you feel like you have to download it illegally?

        • Rectilinear Propagation says:

          Most people don’t want to resort to illegal means for some TV.
          I don’t think the majority of the people in the US care that much.

          @Illusio26, @pecan 3.14159265: OK, do either of you have surveys you can cite or something?

  20. Hate_Brian_Club_I'mNotOnlyThePresidentI'mAClient says:

    I will welcome Bit Torrent back into my family with open arms.

  21. ElizabethD says:

    One step forward; two steps back.

  22. LostAtoll says:

    once again, the ads aren’t enough money for them, and they get greedy. I mean.. if that’s all people are willing to do (watch ads), then that’s all you can charge. I doubt it will last long once they start charging. Netflix is much better, and worth the price, and downloading is always there as well..

  23. foofish says:

    I’d pay for Hulu if it provided live streaming CNN. I gotta have my Nancy Grace. Yelling at her frightening program helps me get my rage out.

  24. wllmjns93 says:

    So dumb. I wonder if the people involved in this decision remember Napster.

    I love being able to watch streaming content on my computer & TV, but I’m not spending a penny on Hulu. I already pay around $1,200 a year for cable, TiVo and Netflix. I’ll go back to bit torrent in no time.

  25. El_Fez says:

    Well, looks like it’s back to the bittorrents for me!

  26. strathmeyer says:

    The only reason I ever used Hulu was because it was easy, and because my queue automatically filled up with stuff I wanted to watch. Looks like it’s back to downloading.

  27. halsnook says:

    The reaction around the internet to this has been kind of short-sighted. To me it seems logical that they would offer older episodes of hit shows, and popular movies, for a premium. Current episodes and low-demand shows/movies will continue to be free and advertiser-based. Meaning, 90% of what you watch on Hulu now will remain free; the paid content will be additive. If the model ends up being any different than this, I’ll be very surprised.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @halsnook: That was my assumption as well. However, they really ought to have said so when announcing this especially since the last time this came up one of their board members said they thought having tiers or bundles is the best way to go.

      I think most people (the Internet in general, not Consumerist) are assuming that 1) there won’t be a free version of Hulu and 2) there won’t be more content available. But there pretty much has to be a free version of Hulu as long as the individual network sites are also free. I don’t know how long that will last once a paid version of Hulu gets going but we’ll see.

  28. Miraluka says:

    You’re all dirty dirty pirates! How dare you mention BitTorrent! [/end sarcasm]

    Fare thee well Hulu. I wish you well in your venture into pay-based service and losing much of your user-base. I for one will resort back to “alternative means” of watching my favorite shows.

  29. icruise says:

    I’ve grown to like Hulu a lot, and I would probably be willing to pay something to use it. But I would hope that paying customers wouldn’t have to sit through commercials anymore (probably wishful thinking, I know).

  30. Ronin-Democrat says:

    that will be less time I spend on hulu…. now I have no excuse not to use my trx

  31. nstonep says:

    Bullcrapulose!

    It ain’t THAT good to make me pay for it…maybe they’ll still have free episodes of stuff like aqua teen and family guy?!? (here’s to hoping)

  32. BytheSea says:

    That site was such a tool. It only had stuff that was freely available on the networks’ own websites, anyway. It only existed to make people feel like they were doing something non mainstream by going to hulu instead of fox.com.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @BytheSea: I could never get Fox’s player to freaking work right.

      They do have more shows than what’s available on network sites though. Cartoon Network doesn’t put any episodes of Bleach online for example.

  33. Zagroseckt says:

    Ok i LOVE hulu in its curint incarnation .. i rarly even kick in the dvr prefering to stream it on my pc wich is my home entertainment system.

    oh i still use the dvr for shows on on hulu and frankly i skip the adds on it as fast as i can.

    hulu with only one cirmishel per brake i can live with. (note i sed ONE not FIVE).
    BUT Hulu if your going to start charging me i may as well go back to netflix and never order any dvd’s

  34. 2 replies says:

    Does that mean they’ll no longer show commercials?
    No? Hmmmmm Bye bye hulu!
    Youtube.com/shows is still free. ;-)

  35. reynwrap582 says:

    I don’t watch Hulu now, but if they begin charging and lift the restrictions on what shows you can watch as a paid subscriber, and either limit or eliminate the commercials, I might actually be willing to pay for it. As it is now, the restrictions AND the commercials and the fact that it runs like crap on my computer leave me entirely uninterested. I can deal with the crappy performance and would even pay for the service if they allow access to all shows and go commercial-free.

  36. pharmacyfires says:

    Well, since most of the programming they offer comes into my house for free over the airwaves, I guess I’ll just go get a $10 VCR and record whatever I miss.

    • wrjohnston91283 says:

      @pharmacyfires:

      Are there any digital VCRs? I have a VCR that I never used, and now it’s only good for playing back already recorded stuff since it can only record analog.

      • floraposte says:

        @wrjohnston91283: Recording analog works just fine. It’s channel-changing that can’t really be handled, so you have to record the channel you set. Therefore the “watch one, record another” approach doesn’t really work, but it’s just fine for recording a single program (or Daily/Colbert after you go to bed, if you’re me).

  37. memphis9 says:

    I’m the person who generally yells the loudest that I won’t pay for online content – but I’m going to play wait and see on this one. If Hulu, for example, can start providing entire seasons of beloved old shows, in competition with “Buy Season X of YOUR FAVE SHOW on DVD! for only $39.95″, it’s something I might consider. But I’m dubious the studios would cut a deal with Hulu when they didn’t with Netflix.

    The thing is, you can watch CBS, Syfy, MSNBC, USA, and other content direct from the networks. Hulu is just a convenient interface. So either Hulu has it’s sights set on getting the networks online with a PPV type deal (really? When Hulu is owned by Fox and what other network?) – or somebody else will come up with a decent free replacement for Hulu. Media can fight it, but they had better realize that the online audience is not the passive “get hooked and stay stuck” cable audience.

  38. deathshadow391 says:

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

  39. elizass says:

    It’s funny people are just claiming “we’ll go to Limewire.”

    Makes sense. Let’s steal something because I don’t want to pay for it.

  40. wiretapstudios says:

    I stopped bittorrenting shows like the Office, Fringe, etc, because I started using Hulu. Score one for the studios, a genius idea to get me to watch commercials that I previously wouldn’t have watched. I started using it before I even saw it advertised or talked about anywhere. The only way I would pay for Hulu is if they supplied first run movies that were still in the theaters. Even charging me a penny a month for a subscription is a pain in the ass to keep up with in my account for something that was free for almost two years now. I would bet that within 6 months of them charging, they will lose 90 percent of their current user base. If they were smart they would be using ads targeted to what type of show you were watching and even tie them into the content. But as usual, it’s just the networks doing what they do, shooting themselves in the foot.

  41. JollyJumjuck says:

    Doesn’t affect me in the slightest. To me, Hulu has always been the standard in protectionist bullshit. Live outside the US? No Hulu for you! As far as I am concerned, Hulu can die in a fire and I could not possibly care less.

  42. jkinatl2 says:

    So all the articles about ditching your cable for hulu?

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @jkinatl2: Still valid if your cable company sucks, IMO.

      Though you might want to wait a couple of months to see how they’re actually going to implement this.

  43. crugg says:

    I was a beta test user and have been using the program for a while now. What I find hard about this issue is the fact that there is content on the site that you can not get other places, other than p2p. Shows that may not be on the air anymore, that you wish to watch just because you like them. I think this is a bad move for HULU, but they need to bring in revenue somehow and as I last checked the commercials that have been provided have not been cutting the costs of production so far. It is sad but I think people may turn back to torrenting.

  44. drizzt380 says:

    Maybe closer to two steps forward, one step back.

    One step for free TV shows and one step for newer TV shows not locked into a timeslot you must watch it at.

    Then one step back for losing the free part.

  45. zimmi88 says:

    Soooo… then all those ads I willingly sit through simply isn’t enough for the media moguls?

    Putting it plain and simple, if Hulu starts charging for access, Hulu will fall. End of discussion.

    (That said… maybe that’s what News Corp. would love to have happen…)

  46. Brain.wav says:

    Back to torrents!

  47. Al Swearengen says:

    Hulu doesn’t replace cable because it doesn’t have all the shows, so it should not be priced as if it was a cable replacement (e.g. not $50 a month). I think of it more as a Tivo replacement, it lets me delay my watching to when I have time, and since the user provides his own hardware and bandwidth (and since bandwidth caps are probably coming), the cost of Hulu should be less than Tivo. Tivo is $13 a month, so Hulu should be less than that. And considering a paid-Hulu will be in competition with Netflix, it needs to be priced competitively with Netflix (which is $8.99 for a plan that includes streaming), so a basic paid subscription for Hulu should be around that price. Personally I would not pay more than $5 a month for Hulu. Perhaps I would pay more (up to $8 total) if I could get HBO and Showtime. And the paid service needs to do away with the episode limitations – if I am paying I want access to all episodes of the shows, not just the most recent.

    Of course all of this is moot, because I can watch all the shows I want on the network sites instead of Hulu. All Hulu does is make what I can already do a little more convenient.

  48. h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

    I’ve never been able to get on the Hulu bandwagon. “Watch your favorites. Anytime. For free.” is more like “Watch stuff that you have a vague interest in, because we don’t have anything you really like. Sometimes. The free part’s right though. For now.”

  49. RStui says:

    We watch a lot of shows at the channel’s websites, instead of Hulu. 1. They stream better. 2. There’s just as many/few commercials. 3. There’s more of the shows, sometimes.

    Also, how many different websites out there will stream the show you missed that isn’t on the websites for free anyway? No need to torrent, even. I found one that has the entire True Blood in both SD and HD streaming for free. All the seasons of it, too. There’s other websites out there for different shows, too.

    Hulu is vastly mistaken if they think what they offer is worth paying for.

  50. ClockOnTheStove says:

    But will they release the last half of Season 5 of Lost before they start charging me?!?!?!? (Because it’s all about me.)

  51. jst07 says:

    Good luck charging for something you can get for free elsewhere…full episodes on official websites and clips and others from youtube.

  52. wenhaver says:

    My husband and I are talking about ditching cable and the god-awful DVR provided by TWC to a PC/Hulu/P2P type thing. Honestly, we only keep cable around for Noggin/Nick Jr (and now that my kids are old enough to understand how to play videos on the internet, we don’t even need that). I’ve used Hulu a lot – when traveling, when the aforementioned DVR up and decides it doesn’t feel like recording something, or just when I’m feeling lazy and want to watch something in bed.

    I would pay if:
    1. NO ads. That eyelash enhancer commercial makes me want to stab things.
    2. HD. None of this 420p stuff.
    3. Convince other stations to expand content. Hello, CBS/Bravo/CN – talking to you.
    4. I would LOVE to see a situation like Netflix, where it would work on my Xbox. Or the PS3 – I don’t really care which. Just make it easy to get this stuff on my tv.
    5. Remove the limitations on “last 5 episodes”, or “we’ll post it a week after it airs”. I understand that’s got more to do with the studios and stations, but this is the kind of thing people expect from a subscription service. So find some kid with a shiny new MBA or JD who can’t get a job elsewhere in this economy, and sic him on the people who make those decisions.

  53. nerdbomb says:

    I feel like most people are able to bit torrent to their heart’s content. The second they start charging they’ll lose whatever small group can’t and choose to watch the limited episode choices on hulu.

  54. Dennis says:

    RIP Hulu. It was nice knowing you.

  55. zandar says:

    Too bad they are so afraid of what Hulu is for many people (and what the people obviously want): a la carte TV. I guess they aren’t ready to open those floodgates just yet.

  56. flugennock says:

    I hardly ever watch any TV as it is — especially “news” — and haven’t for nigh on twenty years. This past week was the first time in a dog’s age that I actually made a point of being in front of the TV set for anything, as it was the six-part Monty Python documentary on IFC.

    If the TV is on at all, it’s usually to watch any one out of a pile of VHS cassettes I have of old movies taped off of TCM, old cartoons, old Larry Sanders episodes, or BBC America’s Monty Python Marathon.

    So, while in principle I’m down on Hulu for charging us to watch crap on the ‘Net when we could watch the same crap on our TV sets for free, my “real” reaction has to be “M’eh; I don’t watch TV enough to make any difference.”

  57. Grabraham says:

    @pecan 3.14159265: or not…..

    In fact, with YouTube’s help, Google is now responsible for at least 6 percent of the internet’s traffic, and likely more – and may not be paying an ISP at all to serve up all that content and attached ads.

    Credit Suisse made headlines this summer when it estimated that YouTube was binging on bandwidth, losing Google a half a billion dollars in 2009 as it streams 75 billion videos. But a new report from Arbor Networks suggests that Google’s traffic is approaching 10 percent of the net’s traffic, and that it’s got so much fiber optic cable, it is simply trading traffic, with no payment involved, with the net’s largest ISPs.

    “I think Google’s transit costs are close to zero,” said Craig Labovitz, the chief scientist for Arbor Networks and a longtime internet researcher. Arbor Networks, which sells network monitoring equipment used by about 70 percent of the net’s ISPs, likely knows more about the net’s ebbs and flows than anyone outside of the National Security Agency.

    [www.wired.com]

  58. Colonel Jack O'Neill says:

    The only way I would pay for it, is if.

    There are no ads.

    Every tv show that they have up there, they should have all of the episodes, not just 1 or 2 seasons, like I want every episode from every season of house on there.

    And more shows.

    More movies, and newer movies.

    Every show that is available in HD, show it in HD.

    Then that will only be like $10 I’ll be willing to pay.

    And this is all speculation.

  59. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    I agree with many of the changes people have said they should make but I think they’ll make at least a few of those up front. I remain optimistic that they will not immediately make paying for Hulu too sucky to tolerate.

    This is probably stupid, but oh well…

  60. esc27 says:

    I wonder if this might finally mark the beginning of the collapse of ad sponsored content. In general I think the ad revenue model can work, especially for sites with lower costs, but not at the current volume. We’ve saturated the ad market beyond the breaking point and customers are not only over exposed to ads, they are turning against them entirely (note how many people use Adblockers online and skip commercials with their DVRs.)

    So on that note, I’m glad to see services like Hulu looking for more sustainable revenue solutions, they just need to be very careful how they act. People are too acclimated to free online content for Hulu to simply cut them off and ask for cash upfront. Ideally Hulu will offer a premium service (that improves overtime) while slowly downgrading the free service to more of a demo/catchup service. Slowly and kindly turn “free” customers into paying ones and leave some free for the light users and potential new ones.

    In the long run I still think services like Hulu will be the future of TV, so it does seem ridiculous to expect that the same service that currently costs $50-100 (depending on package) can be delivered with only a few 30 second ads online. (Not that cable shouldn’t be less expensive…)

  61. Schildkrote says:

    I’m honestly not sure if this is going to be the Hulu-killing move that the majority seems to think it will be. Streaming doesn’t cost all too much – especially since Hulu doesn’t do user-submitted content like YouTube – and Hulu’s pretty popular. Even if a good 75% of their user base leaves over this, the subscription fees (or whatever) from the remaining 25% would likely still fund Hulu and then some, plus I’d say it’s almost guaranteed that there will still be ads so they’ll still get the revenue from that. I’m not an economist but this seems like a pretty solid move for Hulu, if not for the people who use Hulu.

  62. hypochondriac says:

    I wonder how much they will charge? Will we still get ads? Will entire seasons be available rather then just a few episodes per show?

    Depending on the answers to these questions I might be willing to pay. If the only difference is you now to pay then forget it. I wonder if the streaming video sites I visited before Hulu still exist, I can always go back to them true the quality is a bit lower but I don’t mind that much

  63. AshleyKeen says:

    I think that hulu could make this work for them — or it could be a complete disaster.

    The way they could make it work: Leave all content that is available for free now, completely free. IE – keep doing the 5 episode rotation for currently airing shows, keep some classic shows available online for free, enticing some using to swap to a monthly subscription by teasing old pilots or episodes of old shows. – meanwhile, negotiate agreements with entertainment powerhouses to put their full archives online for a monthly subscription fee. Then sell customized subscriptions – ie. Once price for Television online, another price for Movies only, etc.

    If they kill their current content it will destroy the original purpose of hulu – a promotional site to drive people back to network shows. However, people might be willing to pay a subscription to get access to the entire archives of Quantum Leap, instead of just the first two seasons, or the entire series of Gilmore Girls. — Or people might be willing to pay for premium hulu content and interviews with cast and crew on their favorite shows that they would not be able to get elsewhere.

    The way to kill the site in 6 months or less: Lock down all current content and charge for everything. People will go back to torrenting so fast it’ll make your head spin.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      If they kill their current content it will destroy the original purpose of hulu- a promotional site to drive people back to network shows.

      @AshleyKeen: Or was it? I think that they always intended to turn this into a service where people paid for the content. It is, after all, owned by NBC. Why the heck should NBC care if people go back to watch a show on ABC or Fox the night it airs? The only reason it’s been free this long is that they’ve been working out the kinks and probably working on getting the content.

  64. MJDeviant says:

    I’m a huge fan of Hulu. I JUST finished watching 30 Rock, Community, It’s Always Sunny and Parks and Rec. Basically I just pretend they are on Friday mornings instead of Thursday night. I also occasionally watch Conan, Colbert, Daily Show, and every once in awhile I go through the whole series of Strangers with Candy. I don’t have a TV anymore, just internet. I’m also (and I’ll wait for the annoying arguments) not a fan of not paying for something I like. If I like a product, like a TV show, I will usually watch it and buy the dvds. Torrenting because you think it should be free is ludicrous. That’s why I put up with ads, because HOPEFULLY someone involved with the show is getting something. Now, if I am paying Hulu for a service AND watching ads, I’ll be a little upset, but no more upset then the people who are currently paying for cable and have the worse ads (Hulu ads are great, usually short and sometimes none at all). Basically, if I have to pay $5 month (and no higher then that) to watch the only few shows that I actually watch (TV is terrible….) I can live with that. That’s $60 a year for TV that I will actually watch and on-demand. That’s not bad. Now, with ads, it would be very annoying, but I would be fine with it. Also, they better unveil some new perks to paying customers, such as maybe having auto downloads of shows to my hub or something that I can then make either a playlist/tv schedule for myself. Like maybe every Wednesday at 9pm I can just sign on and have my own little night of TV from the previous weeks shows without clicking all over the place. Something to that effect. Also, not just have 4-5 trailing episodes, have the whole season for the year it is on, just like if you had dvr. I’m getting really sick of people just wanting things for free anymore. Get over yourselves like you deserve it. Shows just don’t appear from nowhere, they cost money. I am annoyed that there are ads that you think would pay for the show, but it might not pay for everything, like your convenience of watching whenever, the quality of the broadcast as a download, the fact that none of the shows are taking up your hard-drive, etc. I knew this would happen eventually and I’m not that upset. It seemed to good to be free in the first place.

  65. thereij says:

    I think they’ll find their traffic decreases significantly.

  66. NobleCrayfish says:

    Is there a reason they don’t just post full episodes with full commercials for free? This seems like such a sensible model that there must be a big catch.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @NobleCrayfish: They know no one is going to sit through 5 minute commercial breaks while watching something online. That’s one of the problems with TV now: 30 minute shows where 15 minutes is just commercials.

  67. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    If the issue is profit margins or overhead costs, charge the sponsors more money for commercial space or have more/longer commercials. Clearly, if it’s so popular they can’t meet demand without charging, then it’s popular enough to charge sponsors more money. But if they charge customers money, many will go elsewhere for this content, and we’ll see how that helps their profit margin.

  68. ein727 says:

    I pay for cable tv.

    I pay for high-speed internet.

    Why would I pay again to watch cable tv on my high-speed internet?

    It’s not going to happen Hulu. I would stop using almost anything online if I had to pay for it.

  69. LVP says:

    Apparently they’ve never heard of the history of AdCritic.com

  70. vladthepaler says:

    If hulu can get to the point of showing all the major networks, it could charge for subscription I think… as a cable-replacement. But it lacks enough content to substitute for cable right now. Hulu as it stands is not something i’d be willing to pay for, but here’s hoping it evolves into something better.

  71. YardanCabaret says:

    And I will stop watching Hulu right after.

  72. consumerwise says:

    Looks like I’ll get my free TV viewing elsewhere. C ya Hulu.

  73. lilspooky says:

    Hulu is all the crap no one wanted to watch on TV, why would any one pay to see it on Hulu. Makes no sense at all. I will never pay to watch Hulu.

  74. kate2000 says:

    There are several shows I watch through Hulu, but half the time I end up watching them elsewhere because Hulu won’t buffer the entire show at once, and it ends up stopping and starting! I don’t mind the commercials, but I certainly won’t pay for that kind of service.

  75. spamhead says:

    Time to check out fancast.com.

  76. SulaBlue says:

    Why in the world would I PAY for Hulu? Everything I’ve ever watched on there was from broadcast TV! Sure, I was able to catch up on a whole season of “Lost” – but I could have done so with far less annoyance by borrowing the season on DVD from a friend. The last thing I wanted to watch was the most recent episode of House, M.D. due to the baseball game previous to it running into OT and screwing up my recording. The episode wasn’t going to be available for several more days, after the NEXT episode had already aired on TV, which meant I’d have to record that episode, watch the one on Hulu, then come back and still be behind everyone else.

  77. memphis9 says:

    …Which is owned by Comcast. That’s the real answer. On one side you have a partnership of two networks (Or a network parent co, Newscorp, and ABC) to see if there’s a way to make money with online shows, and then the big cable conglomerate on the other side seeing what angle they can play.

    The FCC backed up net neutrality because every network and content provider out there is afraid of being shaken down (or blocked) by the cable/satellite providers. So make of Fancast what you will — this is a cutthroat battle, and as a consumer, I figure our best bet is to be fickle and unwilling to get to attached to any particular way of getting our shows. (And this is just the “little” test, with only a small % of viewers online yet anways.)

  78. c-rizzle says:

    Umm, yeahhhh. Great idea. As if you’re not getting a butt load of dough from the friggin advertisements – let’s stick it to the consumer too! Are they aware they’re not the only one’s offering free tv shows for streaming? Well, until they start charging, that is. Idiots.

  79. Zman723 says:

    FAIL