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Hulu to Charge Fees: Really?

October 26, 2009 Leave a comment

On Friday, I was disappointed to read the Associated Press reporting on Hulu.com considering a switch from its free advertiser-supported online video service to some form of fee-based format. Hulu.com provides free access to TV shows and movies to U.S. audiences.

News Corp.’s Chase Carey and Rupert Murdoch made mention of the potential fees being introduced as early as 2010. (News Corp co-owns Hulu with NBC Universal, Walt Disney Co. and Providence Equity Partners)

Article in Marketing Mag is here: http://www.marketingmag.ca/english/news/media/article.jsp?content=20091023_143120_7884

Beginning of the end? Or inescapable reality?

Beginning of the end? Or inescapable reality?

I have to admit, this is truly disappointing to many of us media geeks who have viewed Hulu as a gleaming ray of hope in today’s media industry. As viewers continue to turn to convenient on-demand services, I thought Hulu (with its appropriate and reasonable structure of pre-roll ads in exchange for free content) would be perfectly positioned for the evolving trends and technology surrounding broadcast and broadband viewership.

Unfortunately for Hulu (and me), cash is king and waiting for the North American media business to embrace broadband video at a faster pace is something that shareholders may not be willing to wait around for.

So is this beginning of the end of Hulu? Will we look back 10 years from now and remember Hulu as being pioneers ahead of the curve? Or maybe subscriber fees are an inevitable reality that North Americans have to learn to live with?