Hulu has got where it is today – a very popular and widely known online video service – by being free and full of great content. The question is, would the majority of people give up the free aspect in favor of more great content? Because that’s the reality Hulu users are facing in the future.
Hulu As It Is
Hulu has been built on the tenet of providing free premium content over the Internet using an advertising based model to first cover costs and secondly generate revenue. And it’s been a pretty successful strategy, allowing Hulu to build a sizable audience.
However, the company is still expected to make a loss of around $33 million this year, despite revenue of $164 million. So naturally the thoughts of those at or near the top of the companies who own and control Hulu have turned to whether a different approach would prove to be better.
Hulu As It Could Be
There has been suggestions in the past that either instead of or as well as the current advertising-based Hulu there could be a subscription-based Hulu. In June, Jonathan Miller, News Corps’ man in charge of digital services, suggested this was a logical destination to be headed for.
Then just a few days ago, News Corps. chairman Rupert Murdoch and NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker stated that a subscription model and charging for content was being looked at. Although at that point it seemed to be more wishful thinking than anything, especially on the part of Murdoch who also wants to put his newspapers behind pay walls online.
Paid Hulu Already On Way?
Now, BusinessOfVideo claims to have it on good authority that far from being just an idea for the future, a subscription-based Hulu is already on the way. Sources report that internal beta testing of the system is happening now and the technical details are being worked out.
This is not imminent, with next year being mooted, but it looks like it’s definitely on the way, whether anyone wants it or not. The full details don’t seem to have been worked out yet so this could yet be a good move or a bad move for the company depending on how it chooses to play it.
While I personally prefer online video and television catch-up services to be free, I can see the advantages of a subscription-based model as well. And it’s the “as well” which is key because no one wants to see Hulu moved behind a pay wall lock, stock, and barrel.
However, were a paid-for Hulu (with a reasonable price tag) to be launched alongside the free one with new partners such as cable channels HBO and Showtime then that would tempt more companies online and help prop up the free version at the same time. Which means everyone would win. And even Rupert Murdoch would be happy.
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