Chase Carey, deputy chairman of News Corp. recently announced that the popular television streaming Web site Hulu will begin charging for its services as soon as 2010. Hulu has established itself as one of the go-to places for catching a missed episode that includes any show from “House” to “The Office” to “Glee.”
Hulu launched publicly on March 12, 2008 with mostly series from NBC and FOX as well as a mash-up of older television shows. Last spring, Disney bought a stake in the site, so now ABC programs have littered the site as well.
Financially, it makes perfect sense for Hulu to begin charging to use its services. The networks and studios take in more revenue in commercials than anything else. The free model of Hulu is a perk for those who do not have time to watch television and do not have a Digital Video Recorder (DVR), but it is difficult for those in the industry to capture the value of those programs through brief ads alone.
Aside from Hulu, Fancast is primarily owned by Comcast and is essentially the same idea as Hulu, except that it offers different programming. Apple’s iTunes already offers the options of buying television shows and films that can ultimately be viewed on practically any device. It is not likely Hulu will remain such a hot site once it begins to charge due to other popular outlets (the aforementioned Comcast and iTunes, as well as the illegal sites that stream for free without any commercial interruption).
Paying for Hulu is beneficial because there are a wide variety of programs to watch. But with so many other places to go to view that content, why pay for Hulu?