Hulu, the free, ad-supported online television archive, is
considering transforming itself into the web equivalent of a cable
operator, the Wall Street Journal reports. In its new incarnation, Hulu would provide paid subscribers with live TV and video-on-demand
bundles over the Internet.
idea comes as Hulu's owners--NBC Universal, News Corp., and Walt
Disney--grow increasingly concerned that offering their biggest shows
for free on the site undermines other business lines, like DVDs or original TV broadcasts and reruns. Hulu's owners are also selling their programs
to subscription-only Hulu competitors like Netflix and Apple, as the
industry as a whole adjusts to people turning to the web for TV and
movies rather than cable or satellite providers. Hulu recently launched its own subscription service, Hulu Plus, which gives users access to more
programming on Internet-connected TVs and mobile devices.
What do people think of Hulu's proposed overhaul of its business model?
- This Could Replace TV, argues
Electronista: "The approach if true would at once protect traditional
TV by steering users towards paid material but could also serve as a
true replacement, offering real live content instead of limiting users
to day-after shows as on most Internet sources."
- Say Goodbye to Hulu's Value, states
Karl Bode at DSL Reports: "The benefit of Hulu was its a la carte
nature, and the fact that the service was ad supported but free. With
NBC and company not wanting the service to be more appealing than
traditional cable, they're going to continue to do everything in their
power to dumb the service down until it's little more than a big,
blaring advertisement for traditional television."
- Sounds Like Hulu's Swan Song, claims
Gizmodo's Brian Barrett: "Is becoming a live television portal online
really the answer? Of course not. Whatever allure watching television
live had--with the exception of sports and certain 'event
programs'--died out with the advent of DVR. It's also hard to see how
video on demand would be a compelling offering to a generation weaned
on iTunes, Amazon On Demand, and their cable providers."
- Hulu Needs Its Owners' Shows, asserts
PaidContent's Andrew Wallenstein. It's concerning that Hulu's owners
are licensing their programs to rivals like Netflix and contemplating
yanking some of their free content from Hulu entirely, he explains. "A
Hulu without exclusive content has no competitive edge," Wallenstain
says. "We've already seen how impactful it was when Viacom yanked
Comedy Central hits The Daily Show and The Colbert Report; imagine how
embarrassing it will be when ABC or Fox inevitably takes back a