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Higher ups at News Corp, NBC and Disney talk about having a paid version of Hulu often enough that there’s no way it isn’t happening. But another dose of such comments at a conference in New York yesterday has gotten people quite riled up, with Hulu now a trending topic on Twitter and a subject of stories in pubs like Entertainment Weekly.
The difference? News Corp. Deputy Chairman Chase Carey put a number on it. He said at the Broadcasting & Cable OnScreen summit that there’s no formal timeline for Hulu to start charging, but he “supposes” Hulu it will be by 2010.
“I think a free model is a very difficult way to capture the value of our content. I think what we need to do is deliver that content to consumers in a way where they will appreciate the value,” Carey said. “Hulu concurs with that, it needs to evolve to have a meaningful subscription model as part of its business.”
To be clear, Carey is saying that much of the site’s content should remain free. Any paid content should add value for users and revenue for broadcasters, he explained — unlike some proposed “TV Everywhere” authentication schemes which give the same content through a different venue. Hulu premium products could include exclusives, previews, shortened windows, mobile and behind-the-scenes content.
Hulu execs, on the other hand, have been much quieter about the concept of charging for their content. At last year’s NewTeeVee Live, Hulu CEO Jason Kilar said his main concern was removing barriers between users and content, and emphasized that advertising was an $80 billion business and Hulu’s greatest opportunity lay within that pool of money.