Hulu Plus is drastically expanding its availability today, now opening up to millions of gamers and owners of Xbox game consoles. The subscription video service, which is competing with Netflix (s NFLX) and an increasing number of TV Everywhere apps from pay TV providers and cable networks, could see a big boost in adoption thanks to its rollout on Microsoft’s Xbox Live platform.
Launching on Xbox opens up a huge new potential user base for Hulu’s subscription service. The gaming console offers a new way for viewers to catch up on Hulu’s on-demand movies and broadcast video content directly on their TV screens. And with more than 30 million Xbox Live users, Hulu has a good opportunity to add new subscribers for its Plus service.
Microsoft, meanwhile, couldn’t have picked a better time to make Hulu available on Xbox Live. While rival Sony (s SNE) is struggling with downtime on its PlayStation Network due to a hack attack last week, the Xbox now becomes the only game console through which users can access the streaming video service.
Not only that, but the Microsoft implementation takes a step beyond the typical Hulu Plus user experience. Deep integration with the Xbox will enable Hulu Plus subscribers with Xbox Kinect to control the system through hand motions or through the system’s voice recognition technology. You know, in case hitting buttons on a game controller is just too much work.
Microsoft and Hulu are attempting to entice new users to sign up with a week-long free preview of the service. Thanks to Jack Link’s beef jerky (which apparently knows its target audience), the Hulu Plus service will be available to all Xbox Live users for free from April 29 through May 6. After that, only Xbox Live Gold members — i.e. those that pay a yearly subscription fee — will be able to access Hulu Plus on their game consoles. That’s $60 a year in addition to Hulu Plus’s $7.99 a month subscription cost.
Hulu Plus is now available on the iPad, iPhone and select Android mobile devices, as well as TVs and Blu-ray players from Samsung, Sony (s SNE) and Vizio, and Roku broadband set-top boxes. Later this year, the service plans to add availability on TiVo DVRs, WD Live media players, and Panasonic, LG and Haier TVs and Blu-ray players.