Microsoft, Sony Charge You Fees On Top Of Fees To Use HuluPlus On Consoles

Tech bloggers who dug through some hidden text on Hulu’s page announcing pay service HuluPlus discovered unwelcome news for PS3 owners. The text indicates Sony plans on reserving HuluPlus access for those who sign up for its $50-a-year PlayStation Plus online service. The probable move, for now unconfirmed by Sony, falls in line with Microsoft’s decree that only paying Xbox Live Gold members will be able to access HuluPlus.

Yep, game companies are charging you fees for the right to be able to pay Hulu a fee. This is the sort of behavior you’d expect out of Microsoft, which restricts Netflix streaming to gold members, while Sony lets all users stream Netflix. For now.

UPDATE: Sony is holding Hulu Plus back from non-PlayStation Plus members only during the Hulu Plus trial period.

Playstation Plus: Required for Hulu Plus? [Technologizer via Joystiq]

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  1. temporaryscars says:

    So because Hulu charges a fee, Sony and MS should just roll over and eat any cost associated? Also, while this may not apply to Sony, anyone who wants to do this on their Xbox most likely already has Live Gold, so it’s not really an issue. I don’t really see this as a fee on top of a fee.

    Dumb story.

    • SerenityDan says:

      How is it costing Sony or Microsoft any money? Are they paying for my internet connection? Should I have to pay Dell to be able to stream content to my computer? It’s different with a game, they are hosting the server, but for streaming internet it’s my internet connection to Netflix or Hulu’s server.

      • ColHapablap says:

        The only way this is *possibly* costing Sony/MS any money is if they have to host the Hulu Plus app for downloads and updates. Not exactly worth $50/year per console. Sony must’ve just seen this as a way of driving people to PS Plus, which has no real draw to begin with, and use the argument, “C’mon, it’s not that much money.”

      • temporaryscars says:

        Do you remember right before you could stream Netflix you had to do an update on your 360’s firmware? Who do you think worked on updating the firmware? Did it do it by itself? I doubt Hulu can just stream over the 360 without MS having to update the firmware or creating some sort of application that allows Hulu to be streamed. These things cost money.

        Streaming content on your computer doesn’t even compare because it doesn’t cost Dell anything for you to do it since you’re doing it from Hulu’s website. Dumb argument.

        • ColHapablap says:

          MS/Sony products supporting Netflix was a mutually beneficial agreement that would bring new users and increased revenue to the respective products/services. They would not have done so out of the goodness of their heart if it weren’t going to make them more money. People who buy the hardware should not be forced to pay additional money to fund the support of services that are going to make those companies more money.

          • temporaryscars says:

            So you really think that being able to stream Hulu through your xbox will prompt more people to buy Xbox 360s? Come on. Netflix, possibly, Hulu, no.

            • ColHapablap says:

              Yes, I do believe there are some people for whom Hulu would be a factor to push them to buying an Xbox. However, I don’t think that really matters. All that’s important is that Microsoft wouldn’t add Hulu if they didn’t *think* it would make the more money.

              • temporaryscars says:

                All it does is expand the value of a gold membership. People will still pay the same amount they always do, there’s no fee increase.

            • Yoya says:

              With Hulu plus you gain the ability to watch seasons of shows, and to be honest this is what I have been doing with netflix. Lets face it.. Hulu has one hell of a series collection.

          • jessjj347 says:

            I agree. It may have cost money to develop an application/firmware, but MS is probably getting money from Hulu for this agreement since it will bring Hulu more money via subscriptions.

          • Big Ant says:

            “People who buy the hardware should not be forced to pay additional money to fund the support of services that are going to make those companies more money.”

            Did the console support Hulu out of the box, did it advertise it? No, the $50/year have been since the beginning, it is for all the services that Xbox Live offers, chat, games online, netflix, etc. These services keep getting improved, and new ones added. They didn’t increase the fees to include Hulu they leave them the same.

            it is like complaining that you only watch one channel on cable yet pay the full fees, which is why I don’t pay the ridiculous cable prices because most of the channels are junk. With Xbox Live you actually get useful services/updates. I gladly pay the $50/year because all the services they off are good, compared to Wii, which is free, the party/online games are alot better.

            Most of the people complaining they will have to pay to use the services on xbox/ps3 will also complain, if it was free, that the major glitch causes the program to work incorrectly is taking so long to fix. Most console hardware isn’t sold to make a huge profit, they are sold to make a huge profit on the games and services for them. Willing to bet if Xbox Live became free people would complain that the services are not to useful and up to date. The people working on these updates have to be paid, they won’t do it for free. For $50/year the services Xbox Live offers are well worth it. If you intend only to use the Xbox online for Hulu you will be better of getting hardware intended only for watching Hulu.

        • TailsToo says:

          The only decided to buy a PS3 after it could do neflix. So Sony made money by working with NetFlix on the upgrade.

          • Alessar says:

            Yeah and hopefully they don’t pull some asshat move and make that a feature only PSPlus members can use. The PS3 is sold as a media center with gaming capabilities. As it was, Hulu blocked the PS3 web browser feature that worked (poorly but functionally) previously. Limiting it to paid Hulu subscribers is kind of annoying, but requiring a subscription on both ends is outright offensive. Also, did you know that with hulu plus you still get ads?? What is this, basic cable??

          • Framling says:

            Assuming that the PS3 isn’t a loss-leader, sure, they’ve made money.

            Let’s say I make a console, and sell it at a loss as an incentive to get people to buy games, which are much more profitable for me. Then you create some kind of service that could conceivably be accessed from my console. This could easily create a market of people who are interested in your service, but not my games. These consumers are not just unprofitable for me, they actually cost me money. One way I may respond to this is by only allowing access to your service through a premium service of my own.

            I’m not saying it’s good for consumers, and I’m not saying it’s not greedy (though really only as greedy as any business anywhere is; they’re obviously not in it to lose money). I’m only saying that it’s not entirely unreasonable.

        • SerenityDan says:

          OK, but Sony and Nintendo need disks from Netflix not firmware, even still the firmware to add Netflix was a 1 time thing not something they can continue to charge for.

          • temporaryscars says:

            You’re acting like Live Gold was solely made for Hulu. You buy Gold so you can play games online. All that other stuff is just a bonus, which is why I said most people who own a 360 who want to stream already own Gold anyway, so there won’t be any extra fee. It just expands the benefits of being a Gold member.

            • Stoli says:

              Exactly. You don’t *have* to be a Gold member. You can watch Hulu on your PC. If you’re *really* against being a Gold member, get a PlayOn subscription (which does more than just Hulu and is a little cheaper than a Gold subscription).

              Besides which, you can usually find a year Gold subscription for around $30 these days. For the ability to stream to your TV, it’s not that much.

              • crash357 says:

                The only way it’ll be charging twice is if you have to buy the Hulu ap using credits in the Xbox360 live marketplace…

            • SerenityDan says:

              This is about the fact that they are charging you to access content you are paying for through the internet you paid for on a piece of hardware you paid for. They are providing zero services yet are charging you. It is no different then if the maker of your PC wanted to charge you to watch Netflix or Hulu. Considering I bought my PS3 only as to be a blu-ray player and to stream Netflix to my TV if they decided to charge for Netflix access like the 360 (a fear the article touches on) it would be a huge issue for me.

              • temporaryscars says:

                Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. You’re. Not. Getting. This.

                A console is not a computer. Streaming shows on your computer is part of what a computer is made to do. It’s an open system that allows you to do a multitude of things based on software developed by people who didn’t make your PC.

                Gaming consoles are for playing games. That’s their main function. It’s not an open system. You can’t just do whatever you want as long as you have the right software, it’s all dictated by whatever company made the system. It’s not charging you for access to Netflix or Hulu, it’s charging you for online play. If you pay for online play, you ALSO get these added benefits. If you bought a game machine so you could use it as a box through which to stream these third party programs, then that was a bad decision.

                • SerenityDan says:

                  Your. Not. Getting. It. For years they have been sold and marketed as Multi-Media Centers not as game machines. Playstation, It only does EVERYTHING. ring a bell?

                  • temporaryscars says:

                    Yes, the slogan is “It Only Does Everything,” not “It Only Does Everything FOR FREE.” Get it now?

                    If you want to do the basics, then do the basics. If you want to use all these additional features, then you have to pay extra.

                    • SerenityDan says:

                      If it was addition features provided by them sure. But they provide NOTHING. Console,mine. Internet, paid for by me. Netflix/Hulu streaming, paid for by me, provided by netflix/Hulu. I don’t mind paying for a service but you have to be providing me one.

                    • temporaryscars says:

                      Oh, ok, so when you bought your system it said “Will stream Hulu” did it?

          • coym says:

            So how would you make up the cost that would be associated with the volume of traffic the Live service would see from Hulu? I would assume it’s going to be running through the Xbox Live Server as Netflix does. The $10 goes to Hulu. Who then,pays for the bandwidth and usage of the Xbox Live server?

            Also, it’s not like Xbox and PS3 are the only places you can watch it. Get the app for your iphone, ipod touch, ipad, watch it on your PC, watch on your blu-ray player, watch it on your internet connected HDTV.

            Plus, isn’t it really Hulu that’s charging the fee, Anyone with an Xbox knows there’s a fee to access just about any service on it, and it’s been around for 5 years. So if Xbox has been charging the fee for 5 years and Hulu decides to start charging a fee, I don’t really see how that’s Microsoft’s fault.

        • sqlrob says:

          And how much do you have to pay to Sony and Nintendo for PS3 and Wii streaming of Netflix?

          oh, right, nothing.

        • kujospam says:

          actually it can. I use a software called playon. The xbox and ps3 already have the technology to do this kind of stuff. Besides the PS3 and Xbox always come out with new features for “free”. Did you notice that they come out with new hardware consoles about every 6 months, and then charge the same price? It is sonys and MS choice on what they charge for. Besides, I’m sure Hulu and both companies could of worked something else to make it free for users. Also you don’t see MS charging for updates on windows 7 do you? Next time give good examples.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      How is this dumb? This was buried on Hulu’s website, and only certain groups of people (those who got the Hulu Plus preview invite) were able to see it clearly. This is good information to know.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      What cost associated? First, if Hulu wants subscribers, it would behoove them to provide support for XboX and PS3 to those vendors so they can get the ball rolling on providing that service on those consoles. Second, Microsoft and Sony make money through their games and subscriptions already. Part of those fees goes toward maintenance of the consoles’ features, including providing new services.

  2. dolemite says:

    Well…I have to have a Gold Membership to use Netflix, and I pay for Netflix seperately too, so ….nothing new there.

  3. sleze69 says:

    Netflix FTW.

    • Smashville says:

      In that Netflix works the exact same? You have to pay for an XBOX Live membership to watch Netflix, too.

      • diasdiem says:

        Or you can pay ONCE for a Roku player. Or watch on your PS3 or Wii, if you have one.

        • Smashville says:

          But if you already own an XBOX 360…why would you spend hundreds of dollars for something else to watch it for “free”?

          • diasdiem says:

            Well obviously, if you’re already subscribing to XBL gold for gaming reasons, it makes no sense. But if you were only going to subscribe to use Netflix, it would make more sense to have a one-time cost that while initially more expensive, will be less expensive than the recurring subscription cost over time.

      • sleze69 says:

        I have netflix on my PS3 and Wii and pay nothing to Sony or Nintendo for the right of watching it. Do Xboxes still exist?

  4. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    $50 a year with access to HuluPlus is still a lot cheaper than cable, though. If all of your entertainment needs can be derived from Hulu, Netflix, etc. this might be worth it for you.

    If Sony started to demand a subscription with Netflix, I would just go back to the old fashioned method of streaming – through a computer. I can hook up my laptop to my TV with a $10 cord and achieve the same thing Sony thinks I should be paying for – what now then, Sony?

    • WhoLikesPie? says:

      I believe it’s 50 dollars a year AND the 10 dollars a month if you want hulu plus on your PS3/XBOX360. I may be interpreting the article incorrectly, but who knows.

      • diasdiem says:

        Still cheaper than cable. It’s a total of $170. Some people spend that much on cable and internet a month.

        • WhoLikesPie? says:

          But you also need to pay for your internet in order to access it…. so your point is? I think you’re missing my point; I’m just saying that the 50 dollars doesn’t get you hulu plus… its a separate fee. I’m actually all for it, if I could also watch the sports I want to watch. Heck it’s cheaper over the course of one year than buying a DVD box set of a few seasons of your favorite show(s).

          The issue at hand isn’t the cost of hulu plus, but the fact that you’d have to pay in-order to even have the opportunity to subscribe to hulu plus via a PS3 or XBOX360.

  5. chaesar says:

    is it too soon to start a Hulu Death Watch?

  6. Bob Lu says:

    Consoles = suck.
    PC = win

    except for actual gaming, tho…

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Glad to see the 2nd grade method of making a point is alive and well with you.

      Why do consoles suck and PCs rule? Just because of a fee? Sorry to break it to you, but Hulu could easily make a similar deal with any cable provider and make you pay a fee to access its Plus subscription content. This is hardly limited to consoles.

      • Bob Lu says:

        No the fee is not. But on PC (Mac included), you don’t have to pay fee to Dell, Apple, Intel, or whoever made your PC/PC parts in order to be allowed to pay a fee for Hulu plus.

        True, you pay MS or Sony the fee for some services which many will argue that they really worth the price. Point is you have to pay while you don’t have any choice on the providers.

        You forget what Sony did to PS3? They stripped a significant chunk of the function of PS3 and if you don’t agree? You can’t even access their network.

        I am not saying such thing won’t happen on PC. Actually I fully believe it will. But at least last time I checked, my PS was not locked to any specific network, and Intel didn’t send me a bios upgrad taking away the ability of my PC to install Linux, which I have to accept or the network card will be killed.

        And I promise you in a very near future, PC users will be asked to pay their ISP fees to access some popular content not operated by the ISP itself (like, Google), free or paid. But again, at least it is not happening, yet.

        • ktjamm says:

          I disagree. The difference between a PC and a console is that you can own your PC. you never own your consoles anymore.

          There is no manufacture who can force you to install firmware that breaks functionality on your PC. by not installing firmware, no one can prevent you from doing everything you want to with the PC.

          Sure, Microsoft may try to do that with the OS but, I can ditch microsoft’s os for a different one, win 7 vs xp, etc. or I can switch to Linux. All of which I could use flash to watch hulu, netflix, play games. and have a better gaming experience than on a console.

          On my PC I can change or mod anything to my hearts content. *I* decide whats on my PC at all times. I can’t say the same for the PS3 or Xbox 360.

          And if game makers like ubisoft try to demand that I play their games only online, I just won’t buy their games.

          • Bayshun says:

            Console manufacturers can’t force you to install system breaking firmware either. You just wouldn’t have access to their respective network if you didn’t.

            It’s the same way with PC gaming really. If you don’t patch your game you can’t play it online on their network anymore.

  7. zmnatz says:

    And you also pay for an internet connection too. Is that a fee on top of a fee on top of a fee? This isn’t anything new for Microsoft. You also have to have XBOX Live Gold to use Netflix streaming, and Last.FM, and Zune Pass.

  8. ColHapablap says:

    I still don’t understand why anyone would choose Hulu Plus over Netflix for the same price, WITH commercials.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      New content. Netflix will only stream things that have been released on DVD. For most television shows, that’s at least six months after the season finale of the latest season. A lot of people want to watch the latest episode right after rather than waiting for the DVD set to be released.

      • ColHapablap says:

        True, but most of the pay tier of Hulu is about opening up the streaming of past seasons of shows, several of which I know offhand are already streaming on Netflix. I guess the value would be in streaming the entirely of current seasons of shows, which aren’t on DVD, instead of just the 5 most recent epsiodes you get for free. But overall, it still feels like paying the same for a lot less content.

    • DanRydell says:

      Netflix’s streaming selection is not great. Hulu Plus sounds like it’ll have a better selection of TV shows. Hulu Plus is moving closer to what I’d like, though I’d pay more money for a lot more content and no commercials.

      • ColHapablap says:

        Obviously, it comes down to the usual matter of preference, price/benefit analysis, etc. For me, I’d rather pay for Netflix with the greater overall selection, even if it meant having to wait for the discs of many shows rather than having it streaming.

      • erinpac says:

        Perhaps I’m searching Hulu wrong or something… I find a lot more on Netflix.

  9. grucifer says:

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I pay for Netflix for use on my PC (and DVD player) and I pay Microsoft for XboxLive for completely different benefits. The fact that I can also use Netflix on my 360? Just a bonus. I don’t see how it’s fee’s on top of fee’s. If you only want to watch Hulu on your PS3 or 360, yea that sucks… but then stick with Netflix so you can at least get the physical DVD.

    Problem solved.

    • brokentrinkets says:

      My exact feelings. I pay for XBL for online gaming, I get my Netflix on my 360 as a bonus. Now, I’ll get Hulu Plus as a bonus.

      The whole up-in-arms response to Hulu daring (daring!) to charge for access to their product sounds like entitlement. If people don’t like the cost, then Hulu will be forced to change their product.

      I am happily willing to pay $10 to watch Hulu on my iPhone, iPad and Xbox 360.

    • Transient says:

      Absolutely agreed. This is a ridiculous article.

  10. Cicadymn says:

    The obvious answer: Well Sony needs to have SOMETHING worth getting on their PSN+

  11. TailsToo says:

    So $50 per year fee, Plus $10 a month for Hulu that includes ads?

    No thanks.

  12. diasdiem says:

    Well, looks like I’m going back to using PlayOn.

    • crash357 says:

      I’m wondering how they’re going to deal with PlayOn. Knock on wood that they’re not going to remove the ability to use 3rd party media servers on the Xbox360.

  13. JohnDeere says:

    it will bii frii on wii.

  14. diasdiem says:

    Didn’t people used to be able to watch Hulu through the PS3’s web browser, and then Hulu blocked it?

    • vastrightwing says:

      Yes. They basically block anything other than “regular” PC browsers. This is why I hooked up a “NetTop” to my TV. It’s just like using a set-top box except it’s a real computer using standard Windows O/S and IE, Chrome. Firefox. Works great.

  15. El_Fez says:

    And Companies wonder why people keep turning to bittorrents. . . . .

  16. NoThankYou says:

    The Microsoft/PS3 fee should not be blamed on Hulu. This practice is nothing new and Sony is now jumping on the band wagon. I don’t like it, but I don’t like how this post is making it sound like Hulu somehow underhandedly snuck in a fee.

    On the Hulu thing. Nah I am not paying 10 bucks to watch online commercials.

  17. legolex says:

    I would never have assumed I got free streaming on any game console.

  18. Goatweed says:

    The whole pay model for Hulu is an awful idea to begin with. People think they are paying for the content when in reality they are paying for the convenience of watching it on a console or computer. I guess if someone really feels the need to have access to TV programs everywhere they are, they have the right to pony up for it.

  19. vastrightwing says:

    The answer to all of this is to not use a game console or set-top box for streaming to your flat screen TV. Buy a cheap ($300) Atom powered NetTop. This solves your problem. It allows you to connect a cheap (yet capable) computer to your TV with full HDMI 1080p and then you have a full computer to stream shows and movies with. Since Hulu and Netflix supports “normal” browsers, you can do whatever you want without having to pay Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo, etc. extra fees. It’s just ridiculous what consumers put up with. You can also purchase a wireless media keyboard with trackball: I have an ASUS NetTop with a dual Atom CPU and a IOGear wireless keyboard and it works like a charm.

  20. Joe Gamer says:

    Funny, on my home theater PC it works just fine and I don’t have to pay any extra fees :-D

  21. Big Ant says:

    “Yep, game companies are charging you fees for the right to be able to pay Hulu a fee”

    They are charging you to use the services they provide. That Hulu also charges you a few, or Netflix for that matter, is not something they control as they are different companies. I don’t have a Ps3 so couldn’t comment on the pay servies, though from what I heard I wouldn’t pay for what they are currently offering. But I do own a Xbox 360 and can say that the $50/year is well worth, the video chat, voice chat and party features are great I can do video chat across country and never have any lag, but services for phone or computer I can rarely do this. I also own a WII and from the free online games they have Microsoft does it 100 times better, which is what the $50/year gets you.

    Xbox 360 is a video game console, it is not a settop box for watching shows. If you intend only to use xbox online to watch shows than it is a waste of the Xbox and you should get a Hulu dedicated machine.

    Now I can see the argument that the Xbox is a “Media Center”, but the fact is the console hardware itself is not sold to make big profits, they sell the hardware to make profits on the games and services for them. I’m willing to bet the people complaining that they have to pay this fee for this would also be the first ones complaining, if the service was free, that the bug x causing a bad experience takes so long to fix, guess what people don’t work on it for free.

    Do they also intended to watch Hulu on a computer? What about Hulu charging a fee on top of the fee for the internet access? The fees are for ALL the services that are offered not just a single one, if you are going to only use one than you should really consider if it is worth the price and go to different options.

    Now if Microsoft would increase the fee or charge another for Hulu access it would be another story.

  22. Duckula22 says:

    Excuse, I need to go to the library and grab another movie; I’ll be right back.

  23. Leo says:

    I have to call BS on this, Consumerist. You make it sound like XBOX Live and PlayStation Network only exist to serve up Hulu or Netflix. They do provide a lot of services and have infrastructures that need to be run, you know. I know we tend to be anti-corporate around here, but I think it’s okay if you let a company charge a fee for a service it provides once in awhile. What’s next? Are you going to complain about paying fees to your ISP, since all they do is give you the data connection to pay Netflix or Hulu? And then the power company, since all they do is let the devices operate which let you pay Netflix or Hulu? It’s absurd.

    If I want this kind of sensationalism, I’ll go read political blogs!

  24. brianisthegreatest says:

    You had to do this with Netflix as well. It’s not really anything new. /yawn

  25. dbeahn says:

    Microsoft has always reserved, well, pretty much ANYTHING you want to do online for their Gold customers. They also provide a content rich offering well worth the 30 or so dollars a year (if you shop around some) it costs. It’s a pretty big stretch to try and characterize this as an unsavory move on the part of Microsoft when in fact it is something being added as yet another additional bonus to the Gold service.

    Sony, on the other hand, has long trumpeted that THEIR service is FREE and therefore superior. So yeah, deciding now to charge extra is kinda scammy of them.

  26. dush says:

    Well maybe no one will pay for it and they will realize they need to not charge or charge so much for it. Would consumers ever be that smart?

  27. teke367 says:

    Eh, as many have said, this has been the case for Netflix on the 360 (no PS3 though), and can still be easily avoided by using your computer, it isn’t hard to hook a laptop to your TV if you have a newer set.

    I doubt there will be many people who sign up for PSN+ or XBL Gold just for this though, I imagine they’ll be using it for other purposes too.

    I don’t like it, but I don’t think its a huge deal.