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Will You Pay for Hulu?

This article was written by in Consumer. 14 comments.


This is a follow-up to my earlier post last October when serious speculation started about how Hulu would charge for content. To summarize my first post: Sure, I’ll pay for Hulu, provided they get rid of the ads. One business model is plenty.

This week, the news broke about Hulu Plus, a $10 / month subscription plan to allow users to access “archived” episodes of shows that Hulu already makes available.

Hulu is an unpredictable mess when it comes to the availability of a given episode. A new episode of “House, MD”, for example, shows up eight days after it airs. But “Ghost Hunters” will be available the next day, except maybe if the first episode was a live event (why that makes a difference, I can’t tell. Someone recorded it, right?). Even shows which were canceled years ago are made available on a seemingly random basis. As I write this, there are five episodes of “Angel” you can watch, episodes 3 through 7 of season one. What?

Reportedly, this new “Hulu Plus” service will cost you $9.95 a month (probably per login), is totally optional, and will give you access to episodes which Hulu has marked as “expired”. Hopefully, this will also make available every episode of canceled shows like “Angel”.

From PC World:

There are some unknowns about Hulu’s subscription plan, though. There are no details on whether the $10 subscription will let you watch an unlimited number of episodes from the site or if there would be some sort of metering in place. Also, it’s unknown if advertising would be displayed during the back catalogue episodes.

angel-huluI can’t guess right now if this is something my family would want. Right now, I can’t even keep up with the shows I enjoy, much less make time for older episodes, but my wife enjoys some background noise on occasion, and I admit it’s tempting to have the option of watching something I enjoyed once but which has expired. This isn’t the only way, of course. Just recently I bought a couple of episodes of The West Wing which were particularly good from the iTunes store, and all the seasons of Buffy and The X-Files are now streaming on Netflix.

I’d also like to point out that prior to Hulu Plus, Hulu has posted an operating profit for the last two quarters just using advertising revenue. Just using one business model, instead of combining business models.

Are you itching to get at expired episodes on Hulu?

Report: Hulu to Offer $10-Per-Month Subscription, Daniel Ionescu, PC World, 22 April 2010

Published or updated April 23, 2010. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Smithee formerly lived primarily on credit cards and the good will of his friends. He is a newbie to personal finance but quickly learning from his past mistakes. You can follow him on Twitter, where his user name is @SmitheeConsumer. View all articles by .

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Kevin

Hulu functions more as my DVR than as a way of watching old episodes of show.

If their back catalog became a better selection than Netflix I’d consider it since I mostly use Netflix to watch recent TV series that I didn’t follow when they first aired.

But I imagine Netflix has more pull right now than Hulu.

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avatar Brandon Schmid

Call me old-fashioned but if I want to watch a movie I will go to the video store and rent it. There is something about taking the time to go and search through all the movies with my wife that makes it fun.

So what if it takes longer. At least I get out of the house!

I also like the owners of my local video store so I also aim to support them as well.

Cheers!

Brandon

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avatar Erica Douglass

Hi Smithee,

Have you noticed that every one of your posts recently is about things that will cost you money?

Why not focus your attention on things that will make you money instead? And write about them…heck, my readers’ #1 request is to learn more about what the “average person” can do to make a few hundred extra bucks a month. I focus on that from the biz side, but it would be great to have an Everyman over here talking about investing, etc. to point them to.

-Erica

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avatar Eric

Oh good point Erica. :)

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avatar Yana

I won’t be paying for Hulu. I don’t watch much TV and rarely movies, but I recently discovered Hulu as a source for “Days of Our Lives”. Previously I taped the show with a VCR, but my VCR wouldn’t rewind and I tried to buy a new one – unfortunately, the new ones do not have tuners and I couldn’t buy one that would do the job. A co-worker of my husband gave us an old VCR that rewinds, so I was using one to tape and play, and one to rewind!

The ads on Hulu are annoying, and you kind of have to watch them because they are unusually short. They don’t give you enough time to do anything, and if you try, you can miss bits of your show. And they sometimes give you a choice in your “ad experience” – like which WalMart or car ad do you want to see? I want to see none, so I never click.

Outside of that, I love being able to see my show without fighting with 2 old VCRs. We just got a new computer with a wide screen, and the picture is much better than what I was used to on our 1989 TV.

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avatar Brian

I don’t mind the unpredictability of Hulu as it is. My mind jumps from one topic to the next anyway, so scattered is something I’m used to. But if I’m going to pay for it, I would probably rather have it be more predictable. I want to know that the shows I am paying for Hulu to have will actually be there when I am ready to watch them. It doesn’t sound like they have taken this into account with the testing of the subscription service.

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avatar jim

I won’t be paying for Hulu anytime soon. I’ve only rarely used Hulu as a backup if we can’t DVR a favorite show. So we realy don’t use it enough to pay for it. But even if they did have compelling content I still would be unlikely to give Hulu money since the picture quality I’ve gotten on Hulu has been pretty unreliable and not really good enough to pay for. I’m not sure why Hulu video quality is bad for us. Our internet is 10mbps and we get great quality from Netflix streaming on the same system.

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avatar George

Yeah, this seems like another cash-grab to me. But then again, we put up with advertisements when we go to the movie theater right? We pay to get in and then they bombard us with 5 + ads which IMO, really disuades me from going to the movie theater. But I guess if enough people get on board with the new Hulu charge then we will just accept the fact that we have to pay to watch advertisements ;)

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avatar SavingEverything

I’m on the old bandwagon. The old bandwagon is the cheap one: dont buy music, dont buy movies, dont buy subscriptions to things that are free. Hulu, just like the subscription models for music like realone or napster or others, will not get a single cent from me. Not even a single cent because I sure wont click on their ads.

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avatar Mike

I read this with interest, as I watch Hulu quite a bit. I have just spent a few minutes perusing Hulu.com, and can find nothing at all about Hulu Plus. Where is PC World getting their information?

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avatar will

Hulu has to start charging because cable and satellite companies are being asked to pay to carry local affiliates of the TV networks. There’s no way TV stations can justify charging cable for the same content viewers can get on the Internet for free. Eventually all TV will be subscription-only, even the local stations. The old free over-the-air TV business model is irretrievably broken thanks to basic and premium cable services (witness the recent CBS/Turner NCAA basketball deal.)

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avatar Smithee ♦1,358 (Quarter)

“There’s no way TV stations can justify charging cable for the same content viewers can get on the Internet for free.”

I’d argue there’s no way cable, satellite or fiber companies can justify charging for stations that people can get over the air for free. But they do, and they have been doing it for decades. Because it’s not really free; they’re riddled with advertisements.

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avatar savingeverything

…”that people can get over the air for free”… Ever since TV stations switched their broadcasting signals to digital (from analog) in February 2009 orso, I and some of my friends lost ABC, FOX, sometimes NBC, and 2 local stations. Therefore, we got screwd and had to pay to cable, satellite, or fiber optics providers. So, that justifies them to charge me, the consumer. In reality, I see it has monopoly and a FCC and national broadcasters corruption with the tv provider companies.imho.

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avatar wylerassociate ♦162 (Cent)

I will not be paying for Hulu since I already pay for Netflix which I love.

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