Hulu Plus (Finally) Announced

Mari Silbey —  June 29, 2010

Rumored for months, and speculated on for years, Hulu announced today the debut of its premium subscription service, Hulu Plus. It will cost $9.99 a month, and will offer full seasons of current shows and back-catalog series. Equally as important, Hulu Plus will be available on the iPhone, iPad, and HDTV sets supporting Samsung apps.

I have three immediate reactions to the Hulu Plus news. First, I hope nobody starts whining about the fact that Hulu is offering a paid service. It appears that the free content will remain free (at least for now), and it was patently obvious that Hulu would need to add another component to its business model. Second, while I don’t mind that Hulu is offering a paid service, the available competing options make it difficult for me to want to shell out the extra cash. Netflix gets my money now for playback on the Roku, and I’m an avid watcher of Comcast VOD.

Third and finally, money aside, I am grateful that a content provider is taking a first step in offering full seasons of content. In thinking about Google TV last month, I lamented that it didn’t really solve for anything I want in my TV life. What do I want? Full seasons of content. Good for Hulu for including that in the package.

28 responses to Hulu Plus (Finally) Announced

  1. Remembering the animosity that was the reason Hulu was built in the first place ( NBC wanted more money per episode of the Office in iTunes, and Jobs said “no” ) the irony of hulu on the iPad does not escape me.

    Proof greed always makes strange bedfellows.

    Looking ahead, you’ll be able to watch the episodes of the Office you’ve stored on your PVR with Google TV on the newly announced Cisco tablet for…free(!) effectively making hulu obsolete.

    :)

    T

    Ref.

    http://www.engadget.com/2010/06/29/cisco-unveils-cius-android-tablet-with-hd-video-capabilities/

  2. Brian Purcell June 29, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Just wanted to add that the Samsung announcement also included Newer Blu-ray players to the Hulu playable list. I have a 2010 Blu-ray player from Samsung, but not an HDTV from them. Time to check out my apps on the box!

    “It will be available today for download through Samsung Apps on select 2010 Blu-ray players, Blu-ray home theater systems, and the majority of 2010 Samsung TVs 40” and above.”

  3. I’m pleasantly surprised in the breadth of devices they’ll be supporting with full series and 720p. It’ll be interesting to see if the library contracts at all…

    This probably won’t drive many folks to dump cable, but I could see it eating into Netflix. Most of my streaming has been television shows…

    I put my name in the hat for a beta invite. Hopefully Roku works something out with them, too. But I doubt Apple will. They’ll do their own thing, which will probably look like Hulu but directly negotiated without the Hulu middleman.

  4. Brian Purcell June 29, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    I got a firmware update on my Blu-ray, including an Internet@TV update, but no Hulu app that I can find so far. I know that I should have expected that, but they did say today in the press release.

    BTW, I have the BD-C6500 model.

  5. Once again, my Xbox becomes that much more useful.

    Not mentioned is whether the hardware platforms work with free Hulu or just pay Hulu.

  6. Brian Purcell June 29, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    According to the Samsung press release, their app only does Hulu Plus. Without a Plus account, it will just show free previews of content and a link to sign up.

  7. one thing I DON’T like is that even though one PAYS, it appears you are still going to SEE ADS, which is something that at least for now, NFLX doesn’t require.

  8. The inclusion of ads in a premium subscription service is disappointing to say the least.

  9. Well, I pay Cox a ton of money and I still see ads on ESPN, HGTV, NBC, etc. It’s the way it is, I guess – and while I also don’t care for it, I’m not surprised. Maybe they could offer a “Double Plus” service without ads. ;)

  10. @dave zatz

    compared to COX or any other cable or satellite content providor, the amount of ADS relative to the amount of CONTENT is much lower that one has to SEE. with a DVR I can eliminate virtually ALL ads, but with this, I HAVE to sit there for 30-60 seconds and waste time. I know, I know, it is such a small amount of time – but if I am PAYING for content like NFLX or BB or buying a DVD it doesn’t compare. It is now $$ PLUS ADS.

  11. I concur. The $10MRC I could possibly swing if there were no ads (still not sold), but since there are ads, to quote Liz Lemon, That’s a deal breaker! I prefer the value of Netflix over this (especially if their catalog of content continues to expand).

  12. A lot of people appear to be balking at $10/month + ads. While I would rather not see ads, I don’t think it is realistic to expect full seasons of commercial free HD content for only $10/month. While you get full seasons with Netflix, they aren’t the current seasons.

    Would love to see Hulu+ on the Roku DVP in the near future. Combine Hulu with Netflix, Amazon, Revision3, Pandora, Radio Paradise and TWiT and most of my music/television/movie needs should be met.

  13. After sleeping on it, I’m still fine with the $10 fee in addition to ads. I’d prefer they not be there, of course, but hundreds or thousands of HD episodes (back catalog AND current) watched on whatever device I choose outweighs the intrusion.

    As soon as I get my Hulu Plus beta invite, I’m picking up one of the supported Samsung Blu-ray players. It’d be nice to see Roku or TiVo support of this, but I’ll go where Hulu is.

  14. “Well, I pay Cox a ton of money and I still see ads on ESPN, HGTV, NBC, etc.”

    I agree with tivoboy. Ads are skippable on a DVR, and they won’t be on Hulu Plus.

    Non-skippable ads really are a deal breaker for me. They kill my enjoyment of any kind of media. They just rip you right out of the experience every 10 minutes.

    Without ads, I’d sign up for Hulu Plus yesterday. With ads, I’ll stick with Netflix, Amazon VOD, and DVR.

  15. Also, note how low the bandwidth requirements are for their “HD”.

    It seems as if it’ll be about 1/3 the quality of Netflix HD streaming, which, of course, is already flirting with the very bottom end of what could be considered to be HD.

    If you’re going to be watching Hulu Plus on a lean-back situation and have any interest at all in video quality, it’s going to be a lousy experience.

  16. @Dave. You might consider the Samsung BD-C6500 for your BD player. I picked one up a couple of months ago and it is a great player.

    Like you, I’m hopeful though that Hulu Plus makes it to the Roku DVP soon. My Samsung is not located in my primary viewing room and I would rather get Hulu via the Roku as opposed to moving the Samsung.

  17. Chucky, let’s wait and see before passing judgment. They could easily offer lower quality streams for lesser bandwidth. Having said that, I do expect decent pq and minimal buffering/stuttering for it to be a viable solution.

    (I streamed several minutes of one of the free shows via my iPhone last night and it looked good. But that’s obviously a sub-4″ screen.)

    jcm, I was looking at the C5500 (~$130) and C6500 on Amazon this AM. I’m just waiting for my invite, then I’ll pick one up.

  18. I still don’t have the app on my BD-C6500 player. I wish Samsung wouldn’t have said that we’d see the app immediately if it wasn’t true.

    Debate between 5500 and 6500: 5500 is wired only and a lot less internal memory storage. Otherwise they’re basically the same.

  19. I won’t be buying….er…subscribing. We only subscribe to basic/lifeline cable but get our locals in HD as part of that. So we make the most out of the little we receive.

    We do regularly utilize Amazon VOD to out TiVoHD box. Occasional movies in SD and HD. We pay for one subscription….In Plain Sight.

    There just isn’t enough out there for me that $9.99 is a must have subscription. Of course, if it were free for all of that content, my netbook would probably be getting a workout.

    I guess it is all a matter of priorities. But, yeah, I hate the every 10 minutes ads……takes you out of the viewing experience. I am more likely to wait and borrow series from my 35 library consortium. Did that for all of BSG, Entourage, etc…….

  20. “Chucky, let’s wait and see before passing judgment. They could easily offer lower quality streams for lesser bandwidth … I streamed several minutes of one of the free shows via my iPhone last night and it looked good. But that’s obviously a sub-4″ screen.”

    While you are quite correct that we’ll have to wait and see on the picture quality front, the specs do make me very wary.

    Netflix will fall back to to a lower quality stream if you don’t have the right bandwidth, but they are reasonably up front about what bandwidth you need to have to get their “HD” quality. Hulu’s listed requirements for their “HD” make me think that their best streams will be of a quality that most folks don’t think of as “HD”. But, again, we’ll have to wait and see.

    Of course, lower quality streams will be quite fine on an iPhone or iPad, and if you’re on a cellular network or lousy Wifi connection, a lower quality stream is all you’re going to get in any case.

    Which all leads me to believe that Hulu Plus will be most compelling for folks who want to watch on mobile devices, rather than watch on the big screen in the living room or bedroom. (Or for folks who don’t care about and/or don’t notice picture quality, of whom there are quite a few.)

    But yet again, it’s all speculation until it’s out in the wild for us to play with. However, one more data point is that Free Hulu isn’t anything close to what I’d consider “HD”…

  21. This makes me wonder how long it will be till NBC, Fox, Viacom, etc pull their shows off of Netflix streaming and make them exclusive to Hulu.

    It’s bound to happen at some point.

  22. Engadget took a look… saying the quality is merely “watchable” on a big screen TV and with no surround sound. Hm. :/

    http://www.engadget.com/2010/07/01/hands-on-with-hulu-plus-via-samsung-hdtv-iphone-and-ipad/

  23. “Engadget took a look… saying the quality is merely “watchable” on a big screen TV”

    Yet another data point that Chucky is the Infallible Pope™ on all topics related to picture quality. I must answer only to God (aka Ben Drawbaugh).

    And God is Great for coining the “Hulu Minus” line for free Hulu…

    —–

    The most interesting question here is why Hulu Plus isn’t streaming at Netflix HD quality levels. As best I can tell, there are only two possible answers:

    1) They don’t want to spend the money on bandwidth.

    2) They don’t want to piss off their cableco incest-style bedmates by giving folks a reason to cut their cable service.

    I’d lean towards reason #2, but who knows?

  24. “They don’t want to piss off their cableco incest-style bedmates by giving folks a reason to cut their cable service.”

    After all, who’s about to own 51% of NBC?

    Which brings up the following concept: could the ads in Hulu Plus actually not be there to raise revenue, but instead, to make Hulu Plus less attractive and, again, not give folks a reason to cut their cable service?

  25. All of the above? (Plus, it IS still a beta.)

  26. If I were in charge of the relevant alphabet soup federal agency, I’d veto the Comcast purchase of NBC without a second thought.

    But given 1) how incredibly supportive GE has been of the current administration in their television operations, both before and after the election, and 2) given how the federal government is still owed money from GE Capital from the financial crisis after-measures, I can’t see the veto happening.

  27. If hulu plus comes available on roku I will subscribe to both netflix and hulu plus still cheaper than my sattelite bill and and i can watch what i want when i want it. I am loving the changeover to net tv sick of paying 80 dollars a month 4 so much that i will never watch rather pay half or less to watch what i want when i want.

  28. OK, I have been Samsung’d too. I have the BD6500 and won’t be getting Hulu Plus unless I fork over some more money to Samsung. I have a question for the readers that will help me make my decision. Does anyone know of a reputable dvd player or game unit producer that has customer satisfaction as part of it’s image. Such a company, if it exists, would be willing to provide apps for Hulu Plus and Netflix. If you have purchased that brand, please post it here and I’ll be delighted to spread the word through the Internet of a company with good PR and high customer satisfaction ratings. Oh, yes, and I’ll buy their unit!

    Pass the Word!

    Al