Hulu launched a preview of a new $9.99-a-month subscription service called Hulu Plus that streams TV content to Web-connected TVs and devices including the iPhone and iPad. The service supports 720p high-definition streaming, and will work across computers, TVs, mobile phones, and tablets.
Users can sign-up for a invitation to the Hulu Plus subscription preview at www.hulu.com/plus; the company has not said when to expect the service to go live in wide release, beyond a vague reference to it happening "in the coming months". If you don't get an invite, you can still try the service out using a limited number of free episodes and clips.
The appeal of Hulu, of course, is its wide selection of television content from major television production studios, broadcasters, and independent content creators. After more than two years on the Web, Hulu has grown its library and its usability dramatically since we first reviewed the site in a quest to find The Best TV on the Web. Now, Hulu aggregates content from 100 providers, including networks ABC, FOX, and NBC. The service is jointly owned by NBC Universal and The Walt Disney Company, among others.
Not only does Hulu's site provide an easy way to catch up on the current television you missed, but it provides an impressive archive of back seasons of classics. Hulu's release specifies series like The X-Files, Law and Order: SVU, Saturday Night Live, Arrested Development, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Ally McBeal.
At launch, the service will work with PCs and Macs; via an app for Apple's iPad, iPhone (3GS and 4), and iPod Touch (third-generation) platforms; and via the Samsung Apps platform on 2010 Samsung connected devices (including Blu-ray players, Blu-ray Home Theater systems, and TVs). In fact, the Hulu Plus app streams over both 3G and Wi-Fi. Between Netflix streaming and now Hulu, it's clear why AT&T was quick to recently ditch its unlimited data plans.
And looking forward, Hulu notes that Sony PlayStation 3 support is "coming soon," while in the months after launch the service will work with connected HDTVs and Blu-ray players from Sony Electronics and Vizio. Microsoft Xbox 360 users won't be left out of this party; Xbox support is slated for early 2011.
When you sign up for the preview, Hulu lists other devices not announced today, including Android, BlackBerry, and Palm for mobile phones, and LG TVs and Blu-ray players. This could be a signal that Hulu Plus will be coming to other devices, too.
(Here is a Hulu Plus promotional video)
The potential is huge- $9.99 for what is the largest television-on-demand archive on the net sounds like a golden opportunity for any television lover. But I wonder about the possibility of renting episodes, too, for local storage on a device. For all of those times we're out-of-Wi-Fi range, how do we Hulu then?
This story, "Hulu Plus Subscription Service Streams TV for $9.99 a Month" was originally published by PCWorld.