We’ve all speculated that the time would come when everyone’s favorite free TV and movie streaming site, Hulu.com, would start charging a subscription for people that wanted to use the site to its full potential. Now it seems that time has finally come.
Even though the site is a close second to Google’s YouTube, and has generated more than $100 million in revenue from advertising, major networks are now vying to take some of that profit. The solution? A monthly subscription plan. From LA 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.” 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.
Hulu plans to begin testing the subscription service as soon as May 24, according to people with knowledge of the plans.
So if you’re still one of the only people on the planet without a DVR, and you missed last night’s LOST, you can still catch it for free. However, if you decide you want to catch an episode from a few years ago, you’ve got to cough up some dough.
This also means that instead of the brief 15-30 second commercial break you normally get during the streamed episodes, you’ll be getting more in order to pad the money expected by the networks. So the appeal that Hulu once had of “limited commercials” and “free viewing” now comes with an asterisk.
The bright side? Now that there’s a subscription option for the service, this could open it up to third party developers and give us the same service on mobile or gaming devices. So you could end up paying $9.95 a month, but that means that you’ll get unlimited shows on your iPhone, Droid, XBox and PS3. If this turns out to be the case, that monthly ten spot could be well spent.