Hulu to test $9.95 per month ‘Hulu Plus’ subscription service, say sources

Apple Online Store“Hulu, the popular online site for watching television shows, plans to begin testing a subscription service as soon as May 24, according to people with knowledge of the plans,” Dawn C. Chmielewski and Meg James report for The Los Angeles Times.

“Under the proposal, Hulu would continue to provide for free the five most recent episodes of shows like Fox’s ‘Glee,’ ABC’s ‘Lost’ or NBC’s ‘Saturday Night Live,'” Chmielewski and James report. “But viewers who want to see additional episodes would pay $9.95 a month to access a more comprehensive selection, called Hulu Plus, these people said.”

Chmielewski and James report, “Hulu is under pressure from its owners to collect a subscription fee to both bolster revenue and train viewers to pay for online access to professionally produced content… Shows on Hulu also carry commercials, however there are fewer spots there than on regular television. Ultimately, Hulu is expected to adopt the same commercial loads as network television.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: How about some sort of “Super Hulu” plan that lets subscribers forgo the commercials altogether? Or would the price be too much? That’s one (more) thing we love about Apple TV: When you buy a TV show, it’s commercial free.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Phil O.” for the heads up.]


  1. $10 per month plus you get to watch commercials. Wow. Sign me up.

    I wonder if these media guys ever pull their heads of their asses to look around to see what people really want.

  2. Honestly? I’d rather pay $30 for a commercial free subscription to iTunes that I can watch on AppleTV or on my iPhone or iPad or wherever than pay $10 and only get it on my computer streamed. And since they’re still offering the five most recent episodes (which, I watch most TV episodes within a week of their airing anyway) what’s the point?

  3. Another fun angle to this story: Hulu fears ABC iPad app could hurt its $9.95 subscription plans

    Some juicy quotes:

    Citing industry sources, Kafka said that Hulu CEO Jason Kilar “tried desperately to get ABC not to introduce its free app,” because ABC giving away free content makes subscription-based access to Hulu on the iPad seem less valuable. ABC obviously did not place much weight behind Kilar’s concerns, as the network’s streaming application was available on the iPad from day one, and has found great success.

    ABC’s embrace of the iPad should come as no surprise, as the network is owned by Disney, of which Apple CEO Steve Jobs is the single-largest shareholder. […]

    According to the Times, it is Hulu’s business partners that have pressured it into the subscription plans, “to both bolster revenue and train viewers to pay for online access to professionally produced content.”

    I boldfaced that last part to reinforce the mindset these guys have when they look at us “viewers”. They want to “train” us to pay them. Don’t you just feel special.

  4. “… train viewers to pay for online access to professionally produced content..”

    Unsaid: by subscription

    We already do this for cable/dish TV, so it sounds intriguing. However, $10 a month is 20% of my cable bill and, given the limitations on content, I’d rather put that money to buying files of TV shows that I can keep from iTunes. Oh, they don’t want to train me to buy from iTunes.

    @84 Mac Guy

  5. Won’t pay and have commercials.

    The old advertising models are done and ineffective. They better wake up or they will follow the record industry down the toilet and others will take the billions away from them.

    Some kid in a hoody will be making the money instead of a bunch of suits.

  6. It’s a boring technique: NUDGE
    Small, incremental steps to make you think “huh, doesn’t seem out of place.” Worked with text messages, works with most Cable/Voip/etc services. In the end, you won’t bitch paying 30$/month for mediocre library of content that you can not keep.

    I want a-la-carte from Apple. Put those profits to good use and make yourself a net-only content distributor for TV Channels (read: not shows.) Or get it over with, buy Adobe, fix it up… but that’s another topic.

    I don’t mind profit, but this smacks of GREED alone.
    Uck-Fey Uo-Yey Ulu-Hey!

    MDN Magic: trade… i give you money, you give me value, not glass beads

  7. welcome to 2010, if you can put it on air once for free with commercials there is no reason to charge ever. you cannot train a consumer to pay more. that is ridiculous! good for you abc…to everyone else we will not pay another subscription fee especially one with commerials.

  8. As has been said; this is just greed. They are sending down the canary and hope it lives. If it does, we can expect a fairly swift shift from free-with-ads to ad-free-for-fee model. This would be too bad if they actually left a choice. However, depending on the Hulu’s success, chances are, choice will be eliminated, as bean counters much prefer predictable, even revenue stream (subscription) over unpredictable, burst/lull add-supported revenue model.

  9. They keep repeating how Hulu has much fewer ads than broadcast TV, making it seem that Hulu is somehow less attractive to advertisers and consequently pulls in less money. This is actually incorrect, and a red herring, as they argue for their subscription.

    Broadcast TV ads vs. online ads can be compared to carpet-bombing vs. precision guided-missile strikes; both strategies in the end destroy the same amount of targets, however the first one costs significantly more and does much more collateral damage. Every single night, I see tons of ads for cars. I live in Manhattan. 77% of us DON’T have cars and don’t want them. Yet, we are carpet-bombed by car ads. I have almost never seen an online ad for a car (because I would never click on it).

    Online advertising brings significantly more bang for the buck. 30 seconds of advertising time for every 15 minutes of programming (currently on Hulu) is more than enough to bring in equivalent advertising value of 3 minutes of advetising for every 12 minutes of prime-time broadcast TV programming.

    I have every reason to believe that the audiences will NOT pay $10 to watch somebody’s ads on Hulu.

  10. That’s will be a good start, Hulu…

    But mild contempt for your viewers/customers is for the also-rans. To play with the big boys and make the big bucks, you need show utter disdain for your customers… you know, add tiered subscription pricing. The $10.00 a month can buy a few crappy shows nobody wants to watch, the good shows should be in the $30.00-$40.00 a month package, Oh! and HD should be an extra $10.00. and don’t forget, in addition to the normal commercial breaks, you’ll need add additional commercials that overlay on top of the show while the program is on, just like the cable networks do. And specials and movies, those will be additional Pay Per View options. $4-5 for low-res quality and $6-8 for HD.

    Just think, in no time you’ll become the consumer unfriendly monster that people ran away from to come to you in the first place. But by then, you’ll have them locked in with no other options… that is until some other company comes along that does what you do, except without all of the bullshit. Then everyone will abandon you and flock to the new fun and friendly company. You know, like those early days when they abandoned cable to come to you.

  11. I though hulu is in the profitable zone already? What more do you want?

    What happens here is that networks and cable providers desparately try to save a business model that was extremely generous to them, by ripping off us, the consumers, without us noticing.

    Newsflash: We have noticed the ripping off, and been given a way around it by technical progress. You cannot go back to the ways of old. You either evolve or die out.

  12. This is the kind of predatory, greedy and stupid thing to do Hulu! If you current model is “working”, then why charge for the iPad version? All this time they said their current ad-based version was profitable.

  13. You all are forgetting the good news in this – they’re still allowing the five most recent episodes for free. If they read comments like these, and they notice trends, I think they’ll find that the customer won’t go for this subscription model. They’ll watch the most recent episodes for free, and if they want older episodes, they’ll either buy the DVDs or they’ll buy them on iTunes, and then they’ll own them. This subscription model is going to tank.

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