Rumors Hulu is about to start charging are back again. The latest whispers come from Reuters news agency. It cites two unnamed sources that claim Hulu is developing a subscription service to be rolled out on multiple devices in the next month or two. Those devices are reportedly Microsoft's Xbox 360 (which already streams Netflix) and Apple's iPad (which will stream Netflix soon).
Not all Hulu content will require a subscription, according to the report. Hulu will air new episodes of shows like "Glee" for free, but access to older programming will require a paid membership. It'd be interesting to see how Hulu would divvy up its full-length movies. Also, would a paid account eliminate the embedded advertisements? And how will advertisers be affected by the switch?
If ad men are worrying about a Hulu subscription plan, cable companies should be sweating bullets. Cable packages are expensive, period. But to offset cost and fight Internet streaming, many providers are offering more on-demand shows and movies and, in the case of HBO, introducing their own streaming services.
The big question is whether consumers would pay for Hulu. Some balk, like Phil Leigh, an analyst with Inside Digital Media. "Many consumers already pay $100 or more monthly for TV, telephony and high-speed Internet access and are unlikely to welcome an incremental fee merely to watch from the Internet some of the programs they already get," Leigh told Reuters. Others embrace the idea of dropping $10 a month for premium Hulu content -- it's "not that big of a deal."
But before we get ahead of ourselves, it bears repeating that Reuters cites unnamed sources. The Wall Street Journal, another highly respected source, also quoted unnamed sources and was dead wrong about the Verizon iPhone. Also, this paid service was supposed to be launched last month, not in the next month or two. So while it seems likely Hulu is aiming for your wallet, take this not with a grain but a fist of salt.
This story, "Hulu Subscription Plans: Coming to Xbox and iPad?" was originally published by PCWorld.