Pay for Hulu

Last week there was a lot of talk of Hulu becoming a subscription service. The reaction to this has been all over the map. Everything from it is a great idea to everyone will go back to being a pirate. Of course no one know anything until the details come out.

If you look at Hulu now, you will see that most of the A-level content only goes back a few episodes. You cannot catch up for a whole season on Hulu. It is there if you missed an episode or if you want to watch episodes on the internet around when they air on TV. The premium content, like the Showtime Show Weeds, you only get clips.

In the best of all worlds the current free content stays free. Subscription content is only for things you would otherwise have to buy the DVD to get or full episodes of premium content. If that was the subscription service Hulu offered, it might be successful.

The problem with this model is clear. A successful pay wall will cause more programs to go behind that pay wall. In part because networks control the shows, there are still lots of hands in those pockets. If someone sees a new revenue stream, everyone will want to swim in it.

This year people have been talking a lot about cutting the cord of cable TV. This works, as long as not many people do it. TV networks and producers count on the revenue from cable subscriptions to make their business work. If enough people stop paying cable bills the whole business model will stop working. Right now cutting the cord works, if you want less content to watch. Yeah, I cannot watch all the networks that get with my cable, but I sure watch a lot of them.

I think that people who are looking at Hulu as source of free TV will be upset in a while. If everyone wants TV for free we will be stuck like crap like I'm a Celebrity get me Out of Here and The Hills as the only new content to watch. That is not really the world I am looking forward to.


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