Given the facts that Hulu Plus is a bit of a non-starter, content providers want to move more of their content behind a paywall, and Netflix just crossed 20 million subscribers, Hulu may just be about ready to take a radical step forward. Could becoming the first online cable company be in their future?
According to the Wall Street Journal, the company is investigating exactly that, and I think it’s a great move. I like Hulu, but what they offer has never actually felt worth paying for beyond watching ads. I have a DVR, and I can watch ad-free if I just wait 15 minutes into the airing to start watching. I don’t have cable right now, but I might pick it up if the price is right. One of the major turnoffs for me right now is paying all this money for channels I will never ever watch, like ESPN (which is one of the most expensive channels on basic cable). If Hulu could come up with a plan for $20-30 a month, it would sit really well for me, so long as it covered the 10 or 15 channels that I value without a lot of chaff.
More importantly, this sort of thing would give Hulu a leg up in the war over HBO content; being able to let HBO sell subscriptions directly to the customer in exchange for on-demand shows might be one more reason you’ll probably never see The Sopranos on Netflix streaming.
Naturally, if the cable companies felt that Netflix was a threat to their bottom line, this kind of move by Hulu will be seen as a bomb being dropped on their heads. If Hulu is using their own networks to undermine their offerings, the cable companies will do everything they can to destroy it. We can only hope they don’t succeed, and free and open competition can prosper on the internet.
Via: [Wall Street Journal]