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Would You Pay for Hulu, and If So, How Much?

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Hulu’s popularity continues to climb (at least according to comScore), but that growth could soon hit a (pay) wall if recent talk by News Corp. (s NWSA) and NBC (s GE) come to pass. Each of those Hulu co-owners have recently dropped the S-bomb (that would be “subscription”) when talking about the future in general and moneymaking prospects of the premium content portal in particular.

During a talk at an Internet Week event the other night, News Corp.’s chief digital officer, Jonathan Miller, suggested some of Hulu’s content might become available only to subscribers. Miller’s comments echoed NBC CEO Jeff Zucker’s words at the D7 conference last week where he said that a Hulu subscription was a possibility.

Granted, these comments were speculation on the parts of Miller and Zucker, and are not to be taken as a concrete road map for Hulu, but since both NBC and News Corp. have some control over Hulu, this chatter can’t be ignored.

[polldaddy poll=1677867]

The idea of a Hulu subscription seems to fly in the face of what Hulu CEO Jason Kilar said at our NewTeeVee Live Conference last year. During his keynote, Kilar talked about premium content as an impulse decision, and of removing barriers that make it harder to consume. Additionally, he drove home the fact that advertising was an $80 billion business and Hulu’s greatest opportunity lay within that pool of money.

The industry has subscriptions on the brain right now, with studios, networks and multiservice operators all trying to figure out ways to put the “premium” back in premium content.

Regardless, if Hulu was to charge a subscription fee to access certain content, would you pay? If so, how much?

31 Responses to “Would You Pay for Hulu, and If So, How Much?”

  1. no i wouldnt pay for hulu not cuz i dont like the site but because i just used it to pass the time at work. i get to see my programs no matter what, thats why i have a tivo!

  2. Tim Doshon

    Hulu is great for finding higher quality videos, but the second they start asking for money I will just be picking a different search result on ..

    There are thousands of places to watch all of these movies and tv shows and i am not about to start lining the NBC and Fox Execs pocket books with my hard earned money!

  3. Velvet Elvis

    Maybe I’m too old-school … but I wouldn’t pay for any online video content which I could watch for free on my TV. Anything that airs on networks or cable = I could watch live or set my DVR to record.

    Only exceptions: Complete coverage packages like MLB TV where I can watch all games online — especially for my favorite team (Atlanta Braves) which are not shown much outside of local area and my only option is a subscription service.

    I do, however, like the model another poster suggested about “watch 45 minutes free then become a premium user to watch all you want.” I think that model would make sense to target users who — to quote the Coneheads — “consume mass quantities.”

  4. mutcluck

    They are 3 years too early for this conversation. Why would they even start thinking about it. It will kill hulu to do this at this point.

    Until hulu and browser based video is integrated into living room monitors across the country with some serious market penetration of this kind of useage, people will just go elsewhere unless they pair with a company like netflix. I’d pay 20-25 bucks for netflix, and netflix watch instantly plus hulu, but not for hulu alone.

  5. I would absolutely pay, the same way I am happy to pay for HBO to get their shows (free of commercials, in that case), or to pay for Dr. Horrible on DVD. If the show is good, I am happy to pay. If more cable shows were available on Hulu for a longer window, I would happily pay more. If I could get those shows on Boxee as well, yet more. As ayp7 so clearly put it, without a way to pay (and profit) there are many shows that simply won’t get made. I enjoy many shows made for very little money, but some of my favorites, like Mad Men, Lost, or Deadwood require budgets to create period sets, or shoot on location, etc. I am happy to contribute to their creation by paying to watch them.

    Also, as an attendee at the event mentioned, I would like to point out that those comments were a part of a larger, nuanced, well informed conversation about the nature of subscription versus ad models. If all involved weren’t at least discussing ways to keep the model viable, I would be pretty surprised.

  6. I actually wouldn’t be surprised to see Hulu do something like ESPN360 and become available only to customers of specific ISPs. I think the ISPs would be very likely to jump on a value-add like that. (I have ESPN360 through Verizon DSL, which allowed me to watch a Duke-Florida St. basketball game while I was getting my Dish Network service swapped out for DirecTV. Useful, that.)

  7. this has to be where it is going. ultimately the studios – and whoever else owns online video – are not going to care about offending the Hulu viewers since, after all, they don’t pay, so… they are not actually CUSTOMERS. why would they show any sense of loyalty to a group of people, no matter how large, that is essentially consuming their product for far less than market value? my guess is they’d rather have 1 million paid subscribers than 15 million watching for free.

  8. I would never pay for Hulu because it doesn’t make sense when they’re just going to remove the content before you have time to watch it anyway, but I do think the business model that MegaVideo is doing is interesting. After you watch more than 45 minutes or so in a day, you have to wait an hour before being able to see more. This incentivizes the power users to subscribe, while still allowing more casual video watchers to not be turned off by pay restrictions. It’s almost a pretty powerful ad, when youre in the middle of a show and you want to see how it ends without coming back later.

  9. I feel like many people are over-reacting on this news. First off, there is no context around what the strategy is. My guess is they’ll keep a similar slate of free shows/movies, and then ADD additional access to content for those who want to subscribe. This is a smart business model. And people need to realize that studios will not create expensive content if they can’t monetize it. So if people want to complain and boycott any sort of pay model, that’s fine, but don’t expect studios to make higher budget shows like 24 and Lost anymore. Expect more reality TV.Also, it’s fine that most people don’t subscribe to the premium service. I’m sure they’re only expecting to convert a small segment, and that’s all they need.

  10. A Noun

    I knew it. This is some offshoot of that crapass Comcast/Fancast “we will only give you online content if you already subscribe to the cable channel” crap. I knew this would bleed over onto Hulu when Disney became a partner, Disney being deep in bed with Comcast. When is someone going to break up that monopoly?