Hulu Officially Charging for Content in 2010

I was just started luv’n my Hulu and they’ve gone and broke it.

Well, here is another example of corporate myopia and “missing the boat”.  I suspect that some executive’s bonus is riding on him/her hitting a number next year.  Looks like their personal gain will come at  a greater loss to the company in the long run.

See, Hulu is like an online DVR that you can access from anywhere at anytime via the internet.  So when you are on biz travel or visiting Aunt May, you can still catch your favorite free TV shows. Unlike your DVR, the platform forces you to experience some commercials; i.e., can’t fast forward past them.

First, the original content was broadcast free and could have been captured via VCR/DVR anyway.  But on Hulu, you can guarantee your sponsor that their ad will be played at normal presentation speed–unlike the alternative (no fast forward).

Second, the great Howard Stern, King of All Media, explained many years ago that radio and TV are habit industries. To be successful in these industries, you must have your audience develop a habit and then you must maintain that habit.  So, if you’re a daily morning drive show, you need to be on the box each and every morning without fail.  That constant regular connection is what builds a following and a habit.  Violate that expectation, break that habit, and people find something else to do.  Hulu helps feed that connection, that habit.

For example, my wife and I were huge “Sopranos” fans.  We kept paying for HBO just because of that show.  Then the Sopranos production team got stupid. If you remember, their season breaks got longer and longer until they lasted over one year!!  One year between seasons…come on.  Well, at first my wife and I were annoyed; then we moved on.  After years of religiously following the show, we dropped HBO and never saw the last season. The connection and habit were broken.

Last season, I started getting into the new FOX show “Fringe” but due to other commitments, missed all the episodes this season. Due to those commitments, I will continue miss the show for the rest of this season.  Well, I’m still a fan of the show because I watch all the episodes on HULU.

I”m not going to pay for HULU especially if they have ads.  I still have a VCR, I also have a TV card in my PC and use it as a DVR.  I could also invest in a “Slingbox”. In the end, I’ll either stop watching “Fringe” or record the show myself (and fast forward past all the commercials)–but then I won’t see the HULU sponsor’s ads. Hey…wait a second…this may be a good thing after all.

Hulu Officially Charging for Content in 2010

Bad news if you like free stuff: In 2010, the popular ad-supported streaming video site Hulu will officially begin charging for content.

We’ve heard rumors about this before, and while about 17% of you said you’d consider paying for Hulu if it was reasonable, the vast majority were completely against the idea (40% said you just head back to BitTorrent).

So far it sounds like Hulu will still keep some content outside of the pay wall, but, as Gizmodo points out, the quote from News Corp isn’t promising:

It’s time to start getting paid for broadcast content online. I think a free model is a very difficult way to capture the value of our content. I think what we need to do is deliver that content to consumers in a way where they will appreciate the value. Hulu concurs with that, it needs to evolve to have a meaningful subscription model as part of its business

Specifically, saying users will need to pay for broadcast content worries us—you know, the non-premium content that already comes for free over the airwaves. We’ll see where this ends up next year, but in the meantime, it looks like it could spell trouble for Hulu lovers.

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Send an email to Adam Pash, the author of this post, at adam@lifehacker.com.

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