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Rumors of Hulu's Subscription Plans 224

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the only-a-matter-of-time dept.
whychevron found a story discussing Hulu's plan to offer subscriptions. The rumor is that $10 a month will grant paying users the ability to get episodes older than the last five, while the current five episodes remain ad-supported. This starts pitting Hulu even more squarely against iTunes for anyone who watches more than a few shows a month.
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Rumors of Hulu's Subscription Plans

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  • I'd pay it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FredFredrickson (1177871) * on Thursday April 22, 2010 @12:13PM (#31940866) Homepage Journal
    I'd pay for it - if they stopped being dicks.

    That means, if I could watch it on my xbox 360 (either official support, or they stop playing cat and mouse with playon.) and put support for hulu on the roku.

    Ever since the last update, playon has had to do a screen capture instead of decrypting the original stream. That gets far less performance and kills my server.

    Also I have to point out that the article mistakenly compares paying $10 for hulu (on demand) vs just watching it on "tv for free". I wonder if the author of the article still lives in his mom's basement.
    • Re:I'd pay it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @12:15PM (#31940892) Journal

      I'd pay for it if they made it available outside the US.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Note: I work for a telecom regulatory body in Canada.

        Hulu is being blocked at every turn. Certain companies in Canada are attempting to stop Hulu from entering the market.

        Why not try a proxy? I run a private proxy on one of my servers based in the U.S.

        • There used to be a TV provider here in Toronto called Look. They offered a variety of networks at a dollar per channel. No required channels, no bundles, no tiered rates. You want the History channel and the Golf channel, and nothing else? $2/month.

          I'm sure they ran into regulatory hassles and were crowded out of the market by Bell and Rogers. Delivery of the service by line of sight radio didn't help much either, I'm sure.
        • Re:I'd pay it (Score:4, Informative)

          by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Thursday April 22, 2010 @04:35PM (#31945346) Homepage

          No need to protect the guilty, Bell and Rogers are attempting to stop Hulu from entering the market, because they know the first thing that will happen is users will blow their unreasonably low caps and yell at CS reps until their useless little heads explode.

          The last thing the Canadian Duopoly wants is a legitimate use for all the bandwidth they've been keeping from us.

          • by chrish (4714)

            There's also the issue of how something like Hulu (or a service like the on-demand movie watching from NetFlicks) would show just how sad their speeds are. The "Up to" speed they advertise might look decent, but what you actually get is crap.

            Rogers has been "upgrading" their network in my neighourhood (part of Pickering; 20 minutes East of Toronto, my area was built up in the 80s) by running cables from people's houses, out to trees, and down to their box by the side of the road. There are cables taped to t

      • Want a free VPN tunnel so it appears you're in the US?
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Lord Byron II (671689)

          lol, you'd better have a bunch of upload bandwidth to spare. I tried that when I was overseas and found that at low quality, Hulu needed around 50KB/s to remain stutter-free. Which is about double what my ISP gives me, so I spent a lot of time watching the buffer fill.

          • I own a hosting company pushing 6-10Gb/s (aggregate across three datacenters). I think I can handle a couple of Hulu streams ;)
      • by john83 (923470)

        I'd pay for it if they made it available outside the US.

        I wouldn't. I lived in the US for a while, and the streaming from Hulu was the worst I've seen for years. Not a patch on youtube, for instance.

      • Another vote here. $10/month and no ads, I'd pay it to access their content from he UK. I wouldn't pay anything for content with ads though - my time is worth more to me than it is to the advertiser.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Lord Byron II (671689)

          Hulu has 3 to 4 ad breaks during a 30min show and each break is usually only 30 seconds long (a few are 15s and a few are 60s). So, if the show you're going to watch isn't worth two minutes of your time, then you might want to reconsider watching it in the first place.

          I for one applaud Hulu for the way they handle the ads. Minimal, non-invasive advertising means that they are one of only a few sites that are on my AdBlock and NoScript white-lists.

          • But in the UK, their competitor would be iPlayer, which is both free and ad-free. If they want to make it a subscription service, then it needs to be better than the free ones.
          • I wouldn't mind watching the ads, but I do mind getting interrupted. That's one of the reasons I don't like watching movies on TV: it's fine for talk-shows, news, etc; but getting interrupted in the middle of Band of Brothers is nasty.

          • Re:I'd pay it (Score:4, Insightful)

            by justin12345 (846440) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @03:58PM (#31944796)
            My only problem with Hulu is that they don't have enough ads. Or I suppose I should say enough advertisers. It gets very annoying seeing the same double-pits-to-chesty Axe ad 20 odd times over 5 episodes of something. I have to say they have been better about it lately, though it can still be a problem sometimes.
        • by iamhassi (659463)
          Another vote here.

          Same here, but $10 is too high, $5 is more reasonable, jumping from $0 a month to $10 a month is a huge increase. Before Hulu I would just download episodes, only thing Hulu does is save me the trouble of downloading. I really don't even have to search, programs like TED [www.ted.nu] notify me when a new episode is available, I just have to click "download". I could go back to living without Hulu.

          But if they want $5/mo I want officially supported streaming to devices other than PCs, a free Pl
      • I'd pay for it if they made it available outside the US.

        Good luck. They aren't getting advertisers from your region and it's unlikely they'd be happy with you just paying them what the advertisers would have.

    • Re:I'd pay it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MBGMorden (803437) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @12:19PM (#31940948)

      That's about where I'm at on it too. I like the idea of Hulu, but I simply don't want to watch TV sitting at my computer monitor. In the past I've kept a regular computer hooked to the TV and just used the regular interface to pull stuff up, but it's just gotten frustrating to keep a mouse and keyboard by the TV. If they can't integrate it into something I can use with a remote (Windows Media Center, MythTV, Xbox 360, anything), then I'm just not bothering. I'm ESPECIALLY not subscribing.

      It's a shame though. If they managed to partner with some of these services I'd happily pay $10 a month for it. It beats the heck out of a $60 per month satellite bill.

      • by slaker (53818)

        Get a Logitech Keyboard for PS/3, or one of these thingies [tomtop.com]

        • by Deag (250823)

          I got an app on my phone that allows controlling of the keyboard and mouse on my laptop - I use it specifically for watching hulu with the laptop plugged into the tv.

      • by Jellybob (597204)

        You can use Tuner Free MCE to get (rudimentary) integration between Media Center and Hulu. It's not great, but it's better then using a web browser from 10ft away.

      • If they can't integrate it into something I can use with a remote

        Uhhhh, dude... Hulu Desktop [hulu.com] was created explicitly for use on Media Center computers, complete with support for Media Center remotes.

        And it's been available for some time now.

        AND it runs on Linux!

        ....Personally speaking, I just wish that Hulu (or... anything that can offer a reasonable flat rate per month for that matter) would give better user experience and picture quality than the scene releases have for the last decade or so. We'll get progress some day.

      • by BobPaul (710574) *

        Huludesktop uses a remote. Have you tried that?

        I edited the menu on MythTV to provide Hulu Desktop as an option and launch it. I then setup the remote in the .huludesktop configuration file. Works on Windows and Mac, too, if that's your fancy.

      • Re:I'd pay it (Score:4, Insightful)

        by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday April 22, 2010 @02:13PM (#31942916) Homepage

        It's a shame though. If they managed to partner with some of these services I'd happily pay $10 a month for it. It beats the heck out of a $60 per month satellite bill.

        ... and that's why you won't see it happen. Hulu is run by the TV networks, and the TV networks still want the money from Cable/Satellite. If they make their content available online, it might become a competitive market. Instead of charging $10/month on Hulu, they'd rather lock you into paying $100/month on cable.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Jer (18391)

          You pay a hundred bucks a month for cable?

          Just for cable? Without internet, or phone or anything else?

          Wow. I'm glad I don't live in your market. I don't even pay that much with Internet service bundled in.

    • Re:I'd pay it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Fnkmaster (89084) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @12:21PM (#31940990)

      Completely agreed - I'd pay it too, if they'd put it on my Roku. I love Roku and all the Netflix and Amazon content (and some of the other content is okay, but not exactly worth much), but it would be *the* killer set-top box with Hulu content.

      However, the problem as I understand it though isn't that Hulu are being dicks, it's that the licensing terms they've been able to negotiate simply don't allow them to put content on set-top boxes or even make it easy for set-top boxes to access that content.

      I just don't think big media is going to let that content go to Roku or any equivalent set-top box. I mean, you'd have people canceling their subscriptions to cable right and left if that started happening. You can do it now, but you need an HTPC setup and to navigate to Hulu via a browser, and that's not quite mass-market.

    • I'd pay for it - if they stopped being dicks.

      It's all relative. Your average American pays $50 to $60 for cable service that doesn't allow them to watch back episodes, then tacks on hefty additional fees if you want something like a DVR that will allow you to watch shows independently of their normal timeslot.

      Is it less than ideal? Yeah. But as long as Big Content is involved, "ideal" is a pipe dream, and Hulu is a hell of a lot better than what we've got now. I'll probably be signing up.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by slaker (53818)

      I thought it was totally sweet that Hulu worked under Skyfire on my phone. For the couple weeks that I could do that. I listened to two weeks worth of the Daily Show (also not on Hulu any more) during a long-ish car trip and it was fantastic.

      I would expect to see device support, just like Netflix has added device support, for paying customers. We don't all have a PC in our living room to best leverage Netflix (I do and I'm sure a lot of other Slashdotters do too, but probably a lot more people have an Xbox

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      If they dumped the ads, I would be interested.

      I can already do streaming of old shows with Netflix. However, Hulu is more Linux friendly despite all of their nonsense trying to supress Boxee and whatnot.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by spire3661 (1038968)
      This is EXACTLY why I refused to give PlayOn money. They have no control over when someone else is going to pull the plug.
    • by MobyDisk (75490)

      vs just watching it on "tv for free". I wonder if the author of the article still lives in his mom's basement.

      Antenna maybe?

    • I don't need $10.00 worth of Hulu. I only watch a few shows there when I can't view them elsewhere. Maybe $18.00 per year.

      What'll happen is that they'll not make their quota and resort to all content being subscribed. That'll then reduce their target audience significantly. Count on it.

    • by nabsltd (1313397)

      Also I have to point out that the article mistakenly compares paying $10 for hulu (on demand) vs just watching it on "tv for free".

      With DVRs capable of holding literally thousands of hours of TV shows at the same quality as Hulu, the only advantage Hulu would have is the older episodes (which is what they are making you pay for).

      Otherwise, for any show in reruns, it's merely a matter of time until you could collect the entire series so it was available "on demand".

  • by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@gmai l . com> on Thursday April 22, 2010 @12:15PM (#31940890) Homepage Journal

    For some people this really is a great alternative to cable.

    It might even be better for networks. Fox said they make more money from Hulu on Simpsons episodes than they do from airing them on TV. And that was before this subscription revenue model existed.

    If it wasn't for sports, I'd consider canceling cable/sattelite and just watching content via the internet.

    • I've actually been fielding questions from quite a few coworkers over the last three or four months about plugging computers into their TVs. I know one co-worker who watched the entire 2010 Olympics online, and was able to view the events she and her husband wanted rather than having to put up with whatever the network decided to broadcast.

      Frankly, I think if the networks could get their shit together, and if they charged a reasonable fee, they could probably kill cable in a few years. For ten or fifteen

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by characterZer0 (138196)

        You forget that the cable companies are the ISPs. They would either raise their ISP rates so it would be just as profitable for them for you to get your shows through the Internet band as through the cable TV band or they would block Hulu.

      • My home PC is now 9.5 years old and it was trivial for me to setup Hulu, and Netflix Instant so I watch it on the TV (that ati all-in-wonder card is still amazing). I usually browse with FF, but I have Crome set up to open on the TV screen part of my desktop and I get to watch what I want when I want (almost). I don't have a digital tuner for local broadcast. I don't get pay tv. I don't care about most sports so none of that matters to me. I did want to watch some winter Olympics but you could not get
    • by The Moof (859402)

      If it wasn't for sports, I'd consider canceling cable/satelite and just watching content via the internet.

      That's actually what I've done.

      Anything on TV I want to watch is typically available on Hulu (or the network's site) for a few weeks after airing. For sports, I've resorted to either listening to/streaming radio or going to the bar with friends to watch. If you're concerned about sports coverage on non-local teams, You'd be surprised what Internet streams are available for radio stations... Usually, the teams' pages will have the link for the streaming audio.

    • by Sir_Dill (218371)

      It might even be better for networks. Fox said they make more money from Hulu on Simpsons episodes than they do from airing them on TV.

      Yes...so the content "owner" makes money by squeezing hulu, but how much does Hulu make airing said episode? I imagine simpsons episodes are relatively popular and probably garner higher ad-prices as well as viewership but it will be interesting to see how this plays out and also how net neutrality figures into this.

      All its going to take is an ISP throttling bandwidth passing from Hulu because it is causing "Network Congestion" before its a lawsuit. Personally, I think its going to be a hell of a show w

    • by geekoid (135745)

      not wuite correct.

      The make more money per viewer on Hulu, not more money over all. The advertising dollars they get from Fox is a lot more in real dollars.

    • by BobPaul (710574) *

      MLB has an internet subscription service. NFL might, too. I'm not sure on the costs, but you might be able to dump your cable and keep your sports.

  • For free ad supported content I'll put up with the process of plugging in the laptop to the TV but if they want money they better open it up to set top boxes like Roku, PS3, X360 etc.

  • Meh. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The pirate bay still has less rules, restrictions, and offers more. For a much lower price.

    What is the value of something that can be replicated perfectly. Forever. For free?

    Exactly...

    • Re:Meh. (Score:5, Informative)

      by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @12:21PM (#31941002) Journal

      Because the odds of me getting a letter stating that I need to deliver my left nut to the MPAA's legal department or be run over by their legal team are considerably less likely going through something like Hulu than TPB.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by PhreakOfTime (588141)
        I find it fascinating that after the business model that you just described, that you still want to give these people money.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by poopdeville (841677)

          Their business model is "letting people see their stuff, in ways they profit from". If you throw a cog in those works, illegally, you shouldn't be surprised to get sued.

    • by s73v3r (963317)
      For me, at least, its faster to watch something over Hulu than it is to wait however long for it to download from TPB or wherever. It may not be in pure HD, but its usually good enough for me. Now if I could pay $10, get access to the back catalog, and get higher quality streaming? I would be happy.
    • You seem to insinuate something you want has no monetary value while still expecting large amounts of people to spend time and money to produce it for you. I don't see how your theory works in the absence of freeloading off paying or ad-watching customers.
    • But entertainment wants to be paid. If enough pepole decide not to pay for it it will go away. Then you stuck watching stuff that is valuable today, but not next week. "American Idol" and the like...

  • Ads (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Varkrag (1795682) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @12:20PM (#31940974)
    Sorry, but if I became a paying subscriber I would expect ad free viewing on all content.
    • Like cable? Or like satellite?
      • Re:Ads (Score:5, Informative)

        by Beelzebud (1361137) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @12:56PM (#31941454)
        Once upon a time the promise of cable TV was that there would be no commercials.

        Too bad TV viewers are mostly lazy, because when they started airing commercials on paid TV, no one seemed to get outraged about it.
        • by geekoid (135745)

          When? I remember hearing that from people back in the day, but I don't remember any company every saying that about multi channel cable.

          I do believe 'ON' TV did that ('77), but they just showed movies. Man, it was a box on your tv with a knob in the middle with two selections "On' and 'Off'. That was it.

          When we got cable TV it had commercial on your standard channels. That was in 78, when it was new.

          • Wow. OnTV. There's a flashback

            My neighbor had that, except if I remember right, it had an 'A' 'B' and 'C' setting on it. But that might have been the way he had it setup to connect to the TV itself.

    • Sorry, but if I became a paying subscriber I would expect ad free viewing on all content.

      Just like with Cable TV.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ..and for $10/month how about the ability to download things for offline viewing?
      ..or the ability to view from mobile devices (ya know, like their advertising claims)?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mcrbids (148650)

      Sorry, but if I became a paying subscriber I would expect ad free viewing on all content.

      Remember when that was the deal with Cable TV? Maybe not, but I do. The more things change, the more they stay the same.... (sigh)

  • by l2718 (514756) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @12:37PM (#31941254)

    The real news we are all waiting for is for Hulu to start offering world-wide viewing.

    In the pre-internet world where movies and TV programs were received by radio or cable or seen in a theater or rented on a videocasette it made sense for the rights holder to subdivide the rights based on location -- to license separately in each country. But this makes no sense for internet broadcast. You would think that in the future rights owners would exclude internet rights from the licenses which are exclusive in a geographical region (thus allowing services like Hulu to license world-wide internet rights), but this doesn't seem to be happening. Instead, the internet broadcast rights are included in the country-specific deals, which generally means that potential viewers outside the US get no service.

    By the way -- this is why I feel no compunction about downloading "pirated" versions of shows that are not available in my country. If the studio refuses to sell me a product, they can't complain when I don't pay for it ...

    • by s73v3r (963317)
      I'm guessing they feel the licensing fees they get from the regional station for rebroadcast is more than they project they'd get from Hulu ad viewing (and presumably paid subscriptions). If they were to exclude internet broadcast, and bring Hulu to those countries, the amount they'd get from those regional stations would go way down.
      • by l2718 (514756)

        You are assuming that the market itself is not subdivided, that is that Hulu and TV broadcast over radio or cable are alternatives. In my experience there are two very different audiences -- those that prefer to watch a traditional TV station and get a mix of shows, and those that prefer to choose their programs a-la-carte over the internet. My sense is that allowing a-la-carte internet broadcast will not significantly lessen the demand for traditional broadcast viewing of the same shows in the medium ter

    • by geekoid (135745)

      That happens because of laws from difference country regarding contracts, 'moral codes' and what not. I said this when the introduced region codes, and I'll say it agin:

      They shot them selves in the foot. no region codes means you can make you movie, sell it where ever it's allowed, and make it easier for people in countries that can't buy it to gain access. That drives the demand for more shows up. Plus when a populace ha a generation go by where people have been getting around movie rules, the movie rules

  • Backwards (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Triv (181010)

    I don't care about getting episodes older than the last five. I care about getting current episodes without having to wait a week. That, I would probably pay for.

    I also can't help but wonder if they're going to be including ads on the subscription model or if they think the access alone is worth 10 bucks.

    • All the shows I watch regularly on Hulu are up 3-5 hours after they air on television (Simpsons, Family Guy and in the past the Daily Show and Colbert Report).
      The only shows I know of that are on a 7-day delay are anime which are sent over and subbed. If there are any shows on a 7-day delay, I don't know about them/watch them, and it's most likely the station's choice and not Hulu's.

      I find it strange that there are still ads on the subscription model, though...

  • by John Whitley (6067) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @12:41PM (#31941290) Homepage

    Forget old episodes, the "killer" feature they need to offer is the ability to handle prime-time streaming volume. Netflix streaming seems to have this down cold, but Hulu is almost unwatchable at times.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nextekcarl (1402899)

      What time do you find the most difficult? I've yet to see a this buffering problem so I'm guess it must be the times I watch, but since I tend to watch in the morning and early afternoon. But I've watched at other times and haven't seen a problem then, either, so maybe it is regional?

    • Hell, most nights im pulling down 2 HD netflix streams perfectly. Netflix has got their shit together. Its sad that The Office on netflix is 10 times better then the NBC.com experience.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      The killer feature would be streaming sports.

    • by fermion (181285)
      I find Hulu to be nearly unwatchable about the time that California starts evening TV. I have some problems with netflix, but not as much as Hulu.

      I think the problem with Hulu, and other services like it, is that it the maximum amount of show it will buffer is very short(maybe a minute or two) and so the trick of setting the show and waiting 10 or 20 minutes for the show to buffer will not work.

      I think Hulu will improve over time and will cause TV and cable to become much less relevent, limited only to

  • 64-bit flash (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kev Vance (833) <kvance@kvance. c o m> on Thursday April 22, 2010 @12:51PM (#31941396) Homepage

    Meanwhile, Hulu hasn't worked with the 64-bit flash plugin since January...

  • Here's to all the folks over the last several years that gleefully announced they were ditching their services (cable, satellite, whatever) and just getting it for free online. My usual response was that once they get you on board, they will start charging for it at some point. No more free tv and flipping a bird to the 'man'. I guess I was right.
  • they offer 720p or better, improve streaming, show all the episodes in a series, open up the front end so anyone can create an interface.

  • I think it puts HULU more against Netflix than ITMS.

  • Until they improve their service, forget it. Even on low, I have a hard time getting non-choppy feeds at time.

    Compare this to Netflix On Demand which has better quality all around--and doesn't have any commercials.

    I wish Apple would start to compete on price here--it's about the same to buy some of these shows on DVD. Granted, iTunes is available right then during the series airing, but I shouldn't have to pay $50-60 to watch something in high def. If they lowered the prices, I would buy a ton of series

  • We wouldn't pay for Hulu if the only perk was being able to watch episodes that would've fallen off the regular rotation due to newer airings (older than 'last 5 to air')

    There's still no guarantee that they (Hulu or content owners) won't pull a series or episode before you get a chance to watch it, or that they'll include captions for everything (like we get with anything we record on our Tivo).

  • 1. They release a "widget" for my Samsung televisions and blu-ray player
    2. They release an iPhone client
    3. The shows and movies are ad-free. Don't charge me AND expect me to watch ads!

    Note; for #1, in the case where users (potential customers) have $OTHER_BRAND television or blu-ray player, substitute $OTHER_BRAND in place of Samsung, while ignoring their stupidity of choosing a non-Samsung television. Yes, I will be mocking them along with you. ;)

  • Get back to me (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SCHecklerX (229973) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Thursday April 22, 2010 @02:26PM (#31943190) Homepage

    ... When they properly support my phone and my 64 bit linux box. Oh, and allow boxee clients. Then we will talk about me paying them for a service that I can actually use.

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