Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Television The Almighty Buck

Hulu May Begin Charging For Content Next Year 234

DJLuc1d tips news that Chase Carey, president and COO of News Corp., has said that Hulu may begin charging for its streamed video content as early as next year. He said at a recent conference that the free-to-air model is not sustainable in the long-term. The Atlantic takes a look at several business models Hulu could employ and wonders how their current advertising system would be involved.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Hulu May Begin Charging For Content Next Year

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 24, 2009 @12:07AM (#29854147)

    new headline: Hulu may begin loosing viewers next year.

    • by Potor ( 658520 )

      Maybe that's the plan?

      I mean, really, who's going to pay for what's free on broadcast TV? And those few who live without TV (like me) have chosen to live without it, and would never pay for streams.\

      • by LihTox ( 754597 ) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @12:45AM (#29854321)

        I counter your anecdote with mine: we gave up cable a year ago, but I would certainly consider paying for Hulu, so long as the price was reasonable (i.e., much less than cable or iTunes would cost for a month of television). In fact, if they offered to give me ad-free programming for something like $5/month, I might consider that as well.

        And broadcast TV is useless for me anymore: I've gotten too used to watching shows when *I* have the time, not when they're scheduled to be on; and I like being able to watch from any room in the house, not just on the television. I could get TIVO, but now we're not talking "free on broadcast TV" anymore.

        • by Mitreya ( 579078 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ayertim]> on Saturday October 24, 2009 @01:40AM (#29854515)
          but I would certainly consider paying for Hulu, so long as the price was reasonable

          I watch Hulu quite a bit and I would consider it as well. Heck, I would probably pay about $1/month just so that I can forever disable certain ads that I do not like. Every time I see the Axe deodorant commercial I want to find the person who made it (approved it, came up with it, etc.) and kick them in the face for a very long time!

        • Solution: buy a tv card for your pc and download Mythbuntu. Problem solved.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Cyner ( 267154 )
          Dear Hulu,

          I want to pay about $15/mo to be able to download(1) TV shows at the same time they air in an patent-free, DRM-free(2) format(3).

          Millions of People.

          (1) Some internet sites have figured out how to control torrent files, if you could do the same you could dramatically decrease your monthly bandwidth charges. For instance, the torrent file is only good for the IP it was issued for (users just login and grab a new torrent if their IP changes) (set-top boxes could easily be programmed
      • I pay for what's free on broadcast TV. I have a subscription with a company that offers DVD rentals by post and online streaming. And I don't have a TV either. I'd rather pay a reasonable amount than watch ads. If Hulu became available outside the USA and charged a sensible amount (if it's just streaming, then it can't be much per episode) and doesn't have ads, then I'd be interested. There are a few programs from the US that I'd like to watch and which only come here on DVD or on satellite / cable cha
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by SoonerPet ( 893902 )
      Exactly, the only reason I ever watched hulu was because it was free. The minute it goes to a pay site I'll be back to torrenting everything. It's really their loss, not mine.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        How is your decision to break the law their loss?

        Creating a TV show costs money, bandwidth costs money, and servers cost money. Did you really think they'd be able to lose money forever? If they can do it, why not you? You won't even have to break the law - you can just pay for everything with your magical never ending supply of money.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Afghanica ( 1661767 )

          Um, his decision to break the law means one less subscriber for Hulu, and hes definitely not alone.
          So yes, very simply, if Hulu switches to a subscriber model, they WILL lose a lot of viewers who will go back to the countless other video streaming websites, ad-free and just a bit more compressed.

          Also, you dont lose money forever, you make changes until you run at a profit. You can make small changes, like increase ads, or big ones, like create subscription fees.

          • The problem is figuring out what people will put up with. Some people will be willing to put up with more adds or subscription fees. Some won't

            Hulu, as it stands now, is reasonable (though their selection is way too small). If they ever ask for a credit card (paypal, etc), they will instantly lose a huge percentage of their clients, including me. If they increase the number or length of commercials by much, they will drive many back to their DVR and VCR (or online downloads).

            They have an appealing conce

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by DarkOx ( 621550 )

              Honestly their commercials are not that bad. Five breaks with a single 30 second spot in a 40min program is not nearly as bad as those same five breaks with 20min worth of crap inserted. The problem is the selection. I quit paying for cable because the selection for on demand was awful; Hulu has way more; and its not enough.

              I would pay for Hulu before I would ever pay for cable again. The trick is not charging to much for Hulu. I probably only want to watch five or six hours a week at the most. Three

              • Five breaks with a single 30 second spot in a 40min program is not nearly as bad as those same five breaks with 20min worth of crap inserted.

                Is television really *that* bad where you live? In my country, 5 breaks is what you get when watching a 90 minutes movie, and that's already horribly atmosphere-breaking (and one of the three main reasons for me turning to torrents instead - the other two being TV channels not playing shows in my desired language and DVD boxes being atrociously expensive here).

        • And building a television transmission tower costs money, too. As does a studio. And the equipment to Broadcast. And the local news vans you see driving all over town. But somehow these local network affiliates manage to offer their product for free over the airwaves, to whomever can pick up their signal. They're supported by advertising, primarily. There should be no reason that Hulu can't get that to work. The whole "Hulu is going to charge thing" is just a money grab by the big players, to try and preven
    • by Itninja ( 937614 ) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @01:04AM (#29854397) Homepage
      I did not realize the Hulu viewers were 'bound' and therefore needed to be 'loosed' in the first place.
    • Same here (Score:5, Interesting)

      by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @01:11AM (#29854425) Homepage

      Sometimes I watch Hulu because it's convenient, if they were charging I'd drop them like a hot rock. Tivo is your friend.

      Thinking they're going to come out with a charge model isn't as funny as Rupert Murdoch's threats to monetize his web properties, but it's vastly overestimating their importance in the content market.

      • Re:Same here (Score:5, Insightful)

        by EdIII ( 1114411 ) * on Saturday October 24, 2009 @01:51AM (#29854531)

        isn't as funny as Rupert Murdoch's threats to monetize his web properties

        NOTHING is that funny. He is like a 4 year old having a tantrum and honestly believing that if he keeps it up long enough he will magically get his way. Of course in this case, little Rupert is screaming until he gets a flying Unicorn to take him to Disney Land.

        Rupert Murdooch, Hulu, and pretty much everyone else are vastly overestimating their importance, and more importantly, what that market is worth anyways.

        The days of living on credit cards and home equity loans are so over. Credit card companies are raising rates, reducing available credit, and the associated banks are tightening up on lending like never before. Equity in a 2+ year old home purchase is probably as rare as a Unicorn now too.

        So just where does Rupert Murdoch, Hulu, and the rest of people expect their customers to get the damned money in the first place? I would be hard pressed to believe the average American family has more than $100 dollars to spend on entertainment anymore before tapping a credit line and making their situation worse, which won't last that much longer.

        They are fighting for a piece of pie that is getting much, much, much smaller by the day. I think as far as regular people are concerned they already paid for Hulu when they paid for their Internet connection. Personally, I know quite a few people that have cut as much as possible off their bills by removing digital boxes, getting on cheaper plans with less channels, and sometimes outright eliminating cable and relying entirely on torrents (the ethical arguments be damned).

        Hulu wants to charge for service? They better be offering some really freakin' attractive offerings to get people to pay them since more than ever, money ain't growing on trees, and it could require people to choose between regular Cable/Satellite service and Hulu.

        On that note Hulu has some pretty apparent pros and cons to me:

        Pros - Less aggravating commercial interruptions. No absolutely retarded animated overlays (SyFy channel blow me). A fairly easy to use interface.

        Cons - Waiting times to get content, and disappearing content.

        Hulu makes it easier to watch on a regular TV, solve those Cons, and they could be a real threat to other people in that market.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by r_jensen11 ( 598210 )

          I'd be willing to pay for Hulu, especially if it meant no commercials. An even better thing would be if viewers all around the world could watch programming from all around the world. The vast majority of stuff I downloaded from the pirate bay is programming from ITV and the BBC, and that's because BBC America sucks ass (too many commercials, and more censorship for something on cable than was originally OTA?, etc.) Ever since my US shows became available on Hulu, I quit going to the Bay to watch them.


        • But, just watch! Hulu will go to a pay model, and no one will sign up. Then Rupert & Co. will cry to the Feds, asking for a Media Bailout to protect their "way of life"! And the way the government works these days, they'll probably get it,. . .
          • Which is what I have been pointing out for awhile, what I call the "too big to fail" mentality that has infected so many of these mega corps and why arguments like "Don't buy from the *.A.A!" don't work.

            Basically these mega corps, having grown fat and spoiled on years of easy credit have no decided they are entitled to ever rising profits. And if they don't get those profits well then it must be those evil peasants stealing from them because their products are all worth outrageous prices even in a dead eco

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by ( 1256836 )
          Who's saying they intend to drop the ads when you pay for the service? After all, that was to be a pro of the cable service when it was first introduced, and now we're still burdened with commercials.
      • by hey ( 83763 )
    • by Lord_Dweomer ( 648696 ) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @02:43AM (#29854715) Homepage

      "new headline: Hulu may begin loosing viewers next year."

      Subhead: "General public learns how to use bittorrent--traffic to and Mininova surge!"

      I am a heavy bittorrent user. I honestly tried to like Hulu when it came out, but the ads were just too long for me. So now I just "timeshift" my shows via bittorrent exclusively. HD rips + no commercials + no buffering + ability to easily archive + hookup to my flatscreen TV = not touching anything else with a 10ft pole.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I have loved Hulu, but I will do one or the other: I will pay a subscription fee or I will watch advertisements during my programming - I will not do both, which is one of the reasons I don't have cable service. I'm okay with Hulu charging a subscription if the content is ad-free. But I'm not willing to pay twice for the same content.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by GNious ( 953874 )

      New Headline: Hulu may begin to gain viewers next year, as going pay-per-view allows expansion outside of 5% of the worlds population.

      • Mod parent up. I'd happily pay to access Hulu from the UK, as long as it had no ads. I wouldn't pay much, but I'd pay more than the nothing that they get from me now.
    • New headline: Bittorrent may begin gaining users next year.
    • new headline: Hulu may begin loosing viewers next year.

      Maybe. I'd pay for it, if it was a reasonable price and had no commercials. First time I saw a commercial, I'd drop the service. Increasingly, there is noplace you go without being blasted by ads... it's worth a few dollars to me to be able to get some entertainment without it.

  • dead dog (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    And their user base drops to 3 men and a dead dog.

  • If they got off their asses and let hulu work on your tv.. the fact its limited to computer or media center hacks keeps people from enjoying it enough to replace OTA or cable strongholds.

    yes.. i know it can be done, but they don't make it easy.

    • by DJRumpy ( 1345787 ) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @12:26AM (#29854227)

      What media center hacks? I use it on my HTPC. It works as well as any other media player/center. Just download the Hulu Desktop [] app (OS X/Windows/Linux) Just launch it and go. I wonder if those folks realize exactly how easy it is to watch this stuff on a TV? I would actually consider canceling cable if they had just a bit more content that was good.

      They should ditch the youtube 'clips' and stick to full TV shows and movies. They could also jettison a lot of IMO, useless content. Get some good deals with content providers with exclusive 15, 30, and 60 second commercials if you need to.

      It's a good service, but it does need more polish.

  • by rm999 ( 775449 ) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @12:13AM (#29854177)

    According to this media journalist (

    "Hulu, the joint venture between News Corp.'s Fox, GE's NBC Universal and Disney's ABC, doesn't plan on charging people to watch the stuff it's currently airing on the site-a mix of first-run shows from broadcast TV, a limited number of cable TV shows and a smattering of movies. But Hulu is trying to figure out how to create some kind of premium offering where you'll pay for stuff that isn't on the site right now."

    If true, I think that is completely OK. A mix of free ad-supported content with premium high-quality content people are willing to pay for. Not sure how that would work currently, but HBO has proven people are happy to pay for *quality* programming.

    • by je ne sais quoi ( 987177 ) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @12:21AM (#29854211)

      A mix of free ad-supported content with premium high-quality content people are willing to pay for.

      And what will you do if you end up with a mix of ad-supported premium content for which you have to pay? Look at cable television now, you pay a monthly fee for the privilege of watching ad-supported television, if you want fewer ads, you have to pay more for those stations which are not included in the basic cable. News Corp. will go after the same model if they can.

    • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @12:33AM (#29854265) Journal

      If true, I think that is completely OK. A mix of free ad-supported content with premium high-quality content people are willing to pay for. Not sure how that would work currently, but HBO has proven people are happy to pay for *quality* programming.

      Remember when buying cable meant you didn't have to watch ads? When that was one of the big selling points of buying cable in the first place? I do.

      And somehow, 20 years later, cable TV comes with oodles and oodles of ads. Literally, ads on top of ads. (you know, when they take 2 inches off the bottom of the screen to put an ad, and it happens while other ads are playing?)

      Now Hulu comes along. it's got decent shows, a decent experience, and doesn't crush your consciousness with ads on top of ads, and it's FREE. Any surprise it's popular?

      Give it a few years. Then you'll be PAYING for access to shows riddled with ads on top of ads, if history is any lesson.

      • Not true. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @01:00AM (#29854377) Homepage Journal

        Not true, almost all around

        First of all, I don't remember ever "no ads" being the selling point of cable. When I first saw cable back around 1979, it was because the transmission towers were so far away from our rural neighborhood in a valley that we couldn't get a signal with an antenna. Literally nothing. "Cable" to us meant that we got to pay for what everyone else was watching: broadcast television.

        Second of all, when they did start adding a few paltry non-broadcast stations to cable television, I remember ads from the outset. Oh, sure, you had the "premium" stations like HBO that had no ads, but guess what--they were really expensive, and we didn't get those channels, and we watched ads. Fewer than today, granted, but that was true even of broadcast television and is a trend across the board.

        Third of all, I don't see us ever going back to the way things were, with big content providers having an absolute lock on when, where, and how you watch big content. Too many genies are out of too many bottles for that to happen. The providers now have two excruciatingly difficult competitors to face: media pirates and entertainment alternatives.

        Yes, as much as we like to pretend that media pirates don't have that big an impact on the industry, they really, really do. Fortunately, in many ways, it's positive. I mean, think about it, do you really think that a service like Hulu would exist today if big media didn't have to contend with people downloading their stuff for free? Their value added is no longer the fact that they have complete control over the pipeline. It's all about ease of use and legitimacy. If they stop providing that value added service, then people will still simply stop using their service.

        Added to this pressure is the fact that the times they are a-changin'. Back when I was little, we didn't have the Internet. We really didn't have many good video games. (I grew up in the Atari 2600 age.) The television was THE home entertainment medium. At night, it was either watch television or sit around talking to your parents. (Fun.)

        But now with all of our instant communication technology, the Internet as our kids' playground, and gaming systems that are more hi-tech than the most expensive supercomputers I grew up on, television has a fraction of the relevance that it once did. Look around, man. Between cell phones, the Internet, their World of Warcraft accounts, and their Xboxes, a lot of kids don't even watch television!

        Do you really think that people will be paying for access to shows riddled with ads on top of ads? I don't. I think that they'll just find something more interesting to do, some alternative that we didn't grow up with, thus the reason we were so willing to put up with that crap. Big media will either adjust, with services like Hulu, or die. And they know that, so please, finger off the panic button.

        • by bit01 ( 644603 )

          And they know that, so please, finger off the panic button.

          You are way overoptimistic. What will happen in every new media is what has already happened to pretty much every old media ever made, whether it be TV, DVD's, internet, cinema, magazines or blank walls - over time ad-load will increase until the net benefit to the consumer is just marginally above zero, thus maximizing profit while keeping the bum on the seat but giving the consumer almost nothing. Piracy may help a little but will be largely con

        • Yes, it's true... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by rts008 ( 812749 )

          First of all, I don't remember ever "no ads" being the selling point of cable.

          Just because you don't remember it that way, it did not happen like that?

          I remember it, and the 'no commercials' was THE marketing hype for cable. It only lasted a year or two, but it was definitely the angle they used to market this 'new cable service' back in the beginning.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by orlanz ( 882574 )
        I remember those times. It wasn't ad free, but premium cables' benefit was almost no ads. Today, the actual "content" seems to have been reduced quite a bit. The time wasted is up, with the value add down, is it any wonder that the consumer is looking at alternatives. We used to call milking the crowd in running the "A-Team" in the afternoon and a rerun late night but today, that term doesn't do any justice.

        1) The obvious is the reruns. God, there are so many; nuff said on that.

        2) These days, most ads
      • by cyn1c77 ( 928549 )

        Remember when buying cable meant you didn't have to watch ads? When that was one of the big selling points of buying cable in the first place? I do.

        Rock on! I remember the good old days. I learned my lesson with cable too.

        If I pay for media nowdays, I expect it not to have any commercials. If you let them open the advertising door, it starts with a few dollars a month and a few ads... and a few years later you have 30% ads and "taxes" and "taxes" on top of that few dollars a month, which increased due to energy costs and other BS.

        Hulu has it's problems, but I use it because dealing with them is worth the effort. But I would not whip out my cr

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      HBO has proven people are happy to pay for *quality* programming.

      What you say is totally correct, with the one minor detail that I would change *quality* to *softcore porn*.

      • by eln ( 21727 )
        People buy Cinemax for softcore porn. HBO's porn is all lame and they don't show enough of it. As far as I can tell, people watch HBO for bad movies repeated 800 times a month and boxing matches.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

          HBO's best content is original content, e.g. shows like Rome and the various HBO comedy specials (seen the last Chris Rock special? hot damn.) But hey, that's my opinion. Some people are really into boxing. Or bad movies (old people in particular.) I just rent the good stuff stuff when it hits video, which is usually not long after it's on HBO.

      • You're confusing HBO with Cinemax.

        Although, some scenes in True Blood are softcore porn.....

      • by MLS100 ( 1073958 ) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @02:22AM (#29854617)

        HBO has a record for stellar dramatic series and quality documentaries. Though they have really failed to produce in this department of late with crap like Tell Me You Love Me and In Treatment. They are lucky Curb went for another season or their new lineup would have been beyond pitiful.

        Still, they have shows with amazing production value that blow the socks off of the total garbage network shows. Surely they have a couple viewers that watch these shows they blow millions on each year.

        People haven't been subscribing to HBO for the softcore porn for quite a while. It may have been sort of true a decade or so ago, but we have the internet now, and that serves even the most demanding porn enthusiast.

    • by enjo13 ( 444114 )

      I will absolutely not pay unless I can freely stream my Hulu content to my TV.

    • by sdnoob ( 917382 )

      hulu could probably get away with charging (modestly) for certain features, provided that they don't mess with the freeloaders' access or available programming. a couple examples:

      * give paid users first access to new content.. maybe a 48 hour delay for the freeloaders.

      * give paid users access to a true high-def feed.. limit the freeloaders to the existing lower-res feeds and 2 channel audio.

      * no ads for paid users.. but no _increase_ in ad minutes per hour for freeloaders.

      but as soon as they start holdin

  • by clang_jangle ( 975789 ) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @12:14AM (#29854183) Journal
    I wouldn't mind paying for the two to three shows per week I watch on, but then if I have to pay I don't want to sit through ads. Wonder how they'll work that out?
  • hey, geniuses (Score:5, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare ( 444983 ) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Saturday October 24, 2009 @12:19AM (#29854203) Homepage Journal

    if it is composed as bits, and it is consumed as bits (books, music, movies/ tv), consumers will pay nothing or very little for it

    this is the future, deal with it

    and no dear content panic brigade: plenty of books, music, movies/ tv will still be made. high quality and at high cost. as if free internet content is a threat to content creation: it isn't, its free adertising for the creators. music is consumed at concerts, movies in cinemas, and books in beds/ trains. and this makes cash as well as a whole huge range on ancillary streams: endorsements, toylines, speeches, movie script treatments, spokesperson, etc...

    what kind anarchist communist thinking is this?

    gee, i dunno. its called the business model that saw the rise of radio, and sustained television for free over the airways for decades: ADVERTISING. you give your content away FOR FREE, and your content is supported by ANCILLARY STREAMS OF REVENUE. you don't put moronic tollbooths that are broken anyways on top of access to your content. no one is going to pay it, you'll just make a lot less money than if you provided free access and depended on ancillary streams

    do you think the business model of radio and television in the 1950s is some antiamuricun socialism? no? then why are your panties in a twist over free digital content?

    but go ahead hulu, reduce your viewership by a thousandth or a millionth. you're geniuses, really, we can bring the business model of vinyl and cassette tapes to the internet. yeah, go for it

    fucking morons

    • if it is composed as bits, and it is consumed as bits (books, music, movies/ tv), consumers will pay nothing or very little for it

      If that were true, iTunes would be an utter failure. But it's booming, selling a lot of music but also a lot of video content.

      If you look the prices are actually pretty high ($1.99 for SD, $2.99 for HD television shows). But people buy it - because of convenience and quality.

      I've tried Hulu a few times but honestly I can't even tolerate the minimal advertising they have, and ei

      • I've tried Hulu a few times but honestly I can't even tolerate the minimal advertising they have, and either tape shows off the air or buy some from iTunes for stations I cannot get.

        I've also tried Hulu as well, and I buy from iTunes for a very different reason - my connection is fast enough to download a movie in a reasonable amount of time, but not to stream it. It also tends to drop out for a few seconds about twice and hour. That's aggravating as hell on streaming video and gaming, but downloads just resume and keep going - it doesn't matter. Even on a better connection if you do too many other things with it you'll end up rebuffering a stream.

        In that regard I'd FAR rather buy a

      • by drspliff ( 652992 ) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @01:27AM (#29854483)

        The free option, available only to USA residents.

        Yes, I'd love to watch some of the stuff available on Hulu, but no... due to "Copyright" it's not available in my country.

        Wait... what? There is no technical limitation, there's no financial limitation, there's no business limitation... unless the company behind Hulu is extremely dense or has absolutely no clue about marketing.

        Or do you want to get into the fact that shows on Sky and Virgin media or other satellite/cable providers in the UK & Europe are shown as little as 3 months after, is this all about a gentlemans agreement to keep a monopoly profitable when it should've died years ago?

        When marketing & politics get involved, especially in issues like this, expect the fucking worst.

        By the time Hulu gets around to allowing Europeans to view stuff we'll have to not only pay a fee, but also sit through 5-10% in duration of advertising for local Cable/Satellite companies which offer a worse service.

        Anyway, I have to go change the proxy settings in Firefox so I can watch some stuff on Hulu, brb.

        • Wait... what? There is no technical limitation, there's no financial limitation, there's no business limitation... unless the company behind Hulu is extremely dense or has absolutely no clue about marketing.

          If Hulu were available in your country, the networks couldn't charge Sky as much as they do for shows.

        • > shows [...] are shown as little as 3 months after

          I really can't see how that would stop them. I mean, setting up different release dates for different areas really is no rocket science. I don't think "new episodes" on Hulu appear as soon as they are available ;)
        • by Tacvek ( 948259 ) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @11:42AM (#29857015) Journal

          The simple fact of the matter is that most of these industires are locked into a model that made some sense back when it was started. Regional versions of products often made sense because of either local requirements (Different line voltage and frequency) different safty regulations, and the fact that not long ago it was prohibitively expensive to import something on a one off basis, and still for most items, ording from overseas can be pretty expensive, but still potentially viable for a consumer.

          So in may industries we got a developer/designer, potentially a separate manufacturer, importers, distributors, etc. Creative efforts often had a separate producer too.

          Content like television had a modified version of this model, where exclusive complete exploitation rights for some franchise in a limited geographical area is sold to another company. Producers often completely lack the rights to authorize sites like Hulu to show content outside the US, since they sold those rights already. Back when these sorts of deals first came out, this was because the producer would find it very difficult to negotiate broadcast agreements with channels overseas. There were just too many, with language barriers, and limited communication speeds. Under such a system both parties had something to gain. The regional rights holder could negotiate broadcast agreements with much more ease, and get profit through this. The production company would get revenue from overseas broadcasts which woiuld otherwise simply not not occur.

          The model has become so entrenched, that I'm not sure that a production company could possibly keep enough rights to authorize international streaming, while still getting the shows aired overseas, since channels overseas are used to dealing with local rights holding companies when negotiating for broadcast rights, and would be reluctant to negotiate the rights directly with the producers, if they even are allowed to, by the contracts they have with the local rights holding companies. In this day and age, it is far more feasible for a producer to directly negotiate broadcast rights with overseas channels, so the benefit to them of the international rights holders have diminished greatly, but they are still around.

          In the modern age of globalization and global connectivity, political borders should have little meaning when it comes to products or content, but many industries are locked into the old models, with little hope of changing in the short term. There are no few to no gentlemens agreements here, mostly just shortsightedness on the parts of many parties, and quite a few binding contracts where the the company with exploitation rights is not willing to let the contract be withdrawn. (As they now clearly have the better end of the deal, while originally the deal was fair or perhaps in the other direction). Combined with the existing system being so entrenched bypassing it is almost impossible, we get the nasty mess that we have.

      • Torrents my dear friend, torrents.

        I fully understand people saying that it's wrong to download music or movies - but downloading a tv show is no different than your friend recording it on VHS and then giving the tape to you. Especially since most shows (yea, I'm not talking HBO, I'm talking ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox) are free to view to begin with.

        • Torrents my dear friend, torrents.

          That is the free option...

          I fully understand people saying that it's wrong to download music or movies - but downloading a tv show is no different than your friend recording it on VHS and then giving the tape to you.

          I agree but I still like to pay the producers of a show I really like, when I can - I see nothing wrong with torrents for the reason you mention, but I also like to reward a good effort since I am in a position to do so.

          That's why I'm so annoyed with people that

        • by Dhalka226 ( 559740 ) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:21AM (#29855047)

          I fully understand people saying that it's wrong to download music or movies - but downloading a tv show is no different than your friend recording it on VHS and then giving the tape to you

          A few things jump out at me:

          First, to be accurate, it is no different than your friend recording it on VHS and giving a copy of that VHS to you. I am not sure about the legality of that, but since he is making a copy for non-personal use it is probably copyright infringement the same as him making you that copy via torrents would be.

          Second, it actually is different. The reason nobody particularly cares about your friend giving you a VHS copy of the show is because the scale is nearly non-existent. It costs him (or you) money to buy the tapes and time to dub them for every copy made. Downloading that same show is a distribution method that would allow one person with very small money (tuner) and time (encoding) investments to provide that video, essentially for free, to thousands and thousands of people with exactly the same effort as it would take them for their own use, or to hand it to their friends. I am not intending to argue for one side or the other in the copyright debate, but the difference is hardly semantic.

          And third, if it is wrong to download a movie--and again I am not making any personal judgments--then it is equally wrong to download a TV show. Both can be had from free- or nearly-free mediums, both deprive the producers of potential sales later on. If you do not think that people downloading Show X cuts into not only Show X's viewership and thus ad revenues but also their merchandise like box sets, then you are horribly and irrevocably biased.

          It may sound as though I am taking the side of copyright owners; I am not, and a look around my hard drives would probably bear that fact out. I just do not see a reason to pretend there are no consequences to such actions for other parties.

          • First, it is perfectly legal for you to say to someone "hey, I'm going to be out of town, can you tape X for me?" and have a person record the show for you and give it to you. This is no different than buying / building a DVR on your own to record shows for you.

            Second, you realize that you CAN reuse tapes, right? =) I only ever owned one three pack of blank VHS tapes and simply reused them over and over. As for your "one person with a tv tuner" argument, that's exactly WHY it's not different. Those show

  • by trudyscousin ( 258684 ) * on Saturday October 24, 2009 @12:24AM (#29854213)

    ...just wasn't profitable enough.

    That's a shame, because my fiancée and I have really enjoyed Hulu, as it's allowed us to watch our favorite shows (those that Hulu carries, anyway) on our own schedules, and with short commercial breaks, and no banner ads across the lower quarter or third of the screen. It's proven to be kind of an ideal version of television. (We've never had on-demand or DVR, just expanded basic cable, so take that with as many grains of salt as you wish.)

    Speaking for myself, the continual, intrusive advertising that plagues television today has done much to drive me away from it, but Hulu has succeeded in bringing me back. I really don't mind that much when the ads are at most a minute long (sometimes as short as 10-15 seconds), and only one at a time.

    Meanwhile, we're taking a wait-and-see approach to what happens next. There's no telling what Hulu will charge, but if it's reasonable (define that how you will) and serves to, say, buy CBS's participation, it could still be a worthy thing.

  • OTA tv has been supported by ads for the last 50 years, why is it that media companys suddenly think this model doesn't work? people skipping ads isn't any worse then them ignoring them, hell i've been muting the fucking things for years. maybe try targeting their ads and making them less annoying (and not turning up the volume) and people might feel the need to skip them.
  • by whterbt ( 211035 ) <> on Saturday October 24, 2009 @12:34AM (#29854267)
    A preview of what will look like in 2011:

    This domain is for sale! Click here to register! []

  • the free-to-air model is not sustainable in the long-term.

    ... and the pay-to-view model is not sustainable period.

    The only model that has a narrow chance is if they charge something like 5 dollars per year, but also get rid of their randomly disappearing and reappearing content. No one will complain while its free, but when I start watching a series from season 1, I expect season 5 to still be there when I get there. I'm just sayin'.

  • Sorry Hulu, but calling it the "free-to-air" model is dubious at best. Any time we are receiving advertising over websites/TV/radio/Hulu, we are a product being delivered to advertisers.

    Hulu, you run plenty of ads. The idea that you are not making any money, or that your service is free in any sense beyond the most narrow interpretation, is absurd.

  • Cable and Sat have gotten out of control, I don't watch enough tv to necessitate 1000+ channels while paying $50-$75/mo for it.
    I canceled my cable a few months ago and have been souly utilizing Netflix for my viewing needs via my xbox360. If hulu starts offering direct streaming services and in HD, via xbox, ps3 and/or web for all of its television content like netflix does for movies I would be willing to pay $5-$10-$15/mo for it and wouldn't mind some ad support. Unchanged though, I wouldn't consider pa

  • by MindlessAutomata ( 1282944 ) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @01:05AM (#29854405)

    I'd pay for Hulu if it was a very reasonable price with a very good selection of stuff, with no or very few advertisements. If it has a good selection there's STILL no reason to buy cable when you can watch what and when you want to watch. In my opinion, Cable Television as we know it isn't going to be sustainable in the long term, either, because people are increasingly DVRing and downloading and stuff nowadays anyway and the old advertisement scheme just isn't as viable as it once was. Cable emerged and appeared the way it did because the internet was not really fully realized the way it is now and certainly not with today's bandwidth. The old cable network model is slowly on the way out. Hulu at cost, a decent cost, will be a bargain over the old cable networks still because I can watch any (available) episode of, say, Babylon 5 when I want, where I want, without having to wait for network showings.

    • The answer should be IP multicast, at least in this world of asymmetric connections and in which we HAVE THE POWER to run IPv6; the cable modems will do it. The ISPs can gateway to IP4. And allegedly, multicast actually works with IPv6...

  • by Mitreya ( 579078 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ayertim]> on Saturday October 24, 2009 @01:12AM (#29854429)
    I almost want them to sell show-based subscriptions. Or allow me to donate money to the show balance. I am worried that the fact that I religiously watch a few particular shows is not counted in the rating of the show and that might lead it to die. Perhaps if people could pay for subscriptions, we could have saved Firefly before it got canceled!

    Of course I would probably want a view without ads if I am going to pay money for a subscription...
  • by mikep554 ( 787194 ) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @02:07AM (#29854563)
    Broadcast networks have existed for more than fifty years on a model that had massive overhead but was free to any user within range of the signal. Now, there is a way they can provide their same product via the internet with massively lower overhead, but they can't figure out how to make money like they used to? Or even make money at all? Did these guys all go to the school with an MBA program that taught them to find a stable company that looks like it would run on autopilot, and just cash the checks as long as the good times last?
  • What I and my family watch on Hulu is not available on cable or broadcast. We watch some really old cartoons with my kids like "Speed Racer","He-Man", and "She-Ra". Its a chance for me and my wife to share with our kids some of the things that we used to enjoy when we were growning up. I don't have a problem paying (a reasonable price) for content that is not available elsewhere. If my cable company had that kind of video libarary available on demand, I would pay them instead, but they don't. If you have an
  • Publish the shows to Hulu the shows the same day they air on network TV. Remove the ads. Basically, stop doing everything that currently neuters Hulu.

    Sure, I'd pay for it. Hell, I'm paying $70 a month to watch TV now. Hulu has some of my favorite programing available, on demand. I'd be willing to pay for it.

  • I remember TV stars saying that Hulu was a system to turn human brains to mush to make them easier to consume. Charging for it is going to hinder that plan, it makes no sense! ...wait a moment, did Hollywood lie to me?!?

  • Everyone I know who uses Hulu does so because we don't have TVs but still want to watch the few good shows on Television for free like everyone else can. The moment they start charging, there's going to be a almost complete drop-off in Hulu viewership and a huge spike in bittorrent traffic. Who gets the ad dollars then? Honestly? What little there is will go to the bittorrent sites.

    Kinda gives me the warm-fuzzies, to be honest. I mean you always have those crazy-ass people going "HURRRRR PIRACY IS TER

    • Charge something reasonable, say $5/mo
    • Make it all commercial free
    • Put all episodes back up for the shows that are available. No more of this 'only 5 episodes of American Dad' crap.
    • Allow products like Roku and PS3 to put it on their devices so we can watch it on a TV instead of a PC

    Do the above and consider me a customer.

    • * Charge something reasonable, say $5/mo
      * Make it all commercial free
      * Put all episodes back up for the shows that are available. No more of this 'only 5 episodes of American Dad' crap.
      * Allow products like Roku and PS3 to put it on their devices so we can watch it on a TV instead of a PC

      Do the above and consider me a customer.

      What Hulu is more likely to do is illustrated in this picture (note Hulu is on the left and

  • It seems so strange to me. People will pay $150 a month for cable television, but the same people would be outraged to pay even the modest fee to get the same content over the internet.

    Maybe all TV should be like hulu. You could watch what you want, when you want. Not pay for 200 channels of crap that you don't want. Not burn up all that bandwidth for those channels you don't want. Just pay for internet, and a small content fee.

  • I think this is good in that it will remove from my list of sites that I visit. If they do this, then I for one will never go back. Sorry folks. You can't put the dust back on the butterfly's wings. We've been getting stuff free--and not really all that good of stuff moviewise--and to expect money? Well, g'bye!
  • I bet after it goes pay it will still have ads.
    Well, just like magazines.

I am a computer. I am dumber than any human and smarter than any administrator.