No More Free Hulu?

Published 5 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 4:27 pm,

hulu not for free logo No More Free Hulu?

Oh Internet, say it ain’t so!

Hulu – my utopia of free TV online – may soon become another run-of-the-buck paid subscription site (see header image)! (Sigh) It was only a matter of time, really…

Broadcasting & Cable brings us this chilling news, which supposedly originated from the mouth of News Corp. Deputy Chairman Chase Carey, who said during the Onscreen Media Summit that:

“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.”

Aw heck, we all knew this day was coming when we’d hear those words spoken about our beloved Hulu – doesn’t it always happen that way with our favorite sites?

However… In my vast Internet experience our favorite sites stop being “our favorite sites” pretty soon after they start asking for membership fees. I know that more than a few of you out there have woken up one day to find your favorite online pop-in spot suddenly requiring you provide them a credit card number, sending you back to the search engine nexus typing in the words “free, streaming…”

…Aaaand I suspect that tradition won’t be changing for the small pool of TV shows and movies that  Hulu currently offers. Despite all those clever commercials with celebrities posing as aliens using Hulu to mush our brains, there’s still enough solid cerbral material left in this guy’s skull to determine that Hulu would need to expand its range of content much, much, wider for me to consider buying into the service. I’m talking:

  • More popular cable series (even some premium channel shows for “platinum” members who pay extra).
  • Every network primetime show of the current season.
  • More GOOD movies (Better picks of old films; same-day and direct-to-video releases (at discounted cost); premium channel releases for platinum members).
  • Same-day airings of primetime TV shows (with ads, if necessary).
  • Bigger TV show archives (for when I go on an Arrested Development or It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia binge).
  • Exclusive “first looks” for movie trailers and making of featurettes.
  • Music videos and Popular news clips added to the lineup.
  • Make all content accessible to any digital mobile device or game system (ipods, smart phones, Xbox Live).
  • Embed and sharing capabilities on all shows/movies (at least clips).
  • Everything in HD.

Now THAT – combined with Hulu’s great interface – would be a service I would pay for.

While I agree with Carey in the sense that it’s time for companies to have a fair shot at pursuing profits in the online market, I do think said companies are still floating  archaic ideas about how to convert their “digital dimes” into digi-dollars.

hulu logo No More Free Hulu?

The Internet has always been based on one fundamental principle: Accomplish a lot with little effort. So, if I can have access to a bunch of movies and shows I watch; get sneak peeks on the hottest music videos or movie trailers; keep up with reports on the latest news clips everyone is talking about; spend my rainy weekends marathoning through old favorites; see everything in crisp HD and share it all with my friends… Why not fork out a reasonable fee to accomplish all that?

Try selling me Hulu as it stands now, and I’m going to tell you the names of all the TV network sites where you can watch the same shows for free (hint: just throw a “.com” behind the name of your favorite network) – or maybe the names of sites that will stream old movie favorites, legally, for free. Basically, I’m going to tell you that I really don’t need Hulu all that much after all…

What about you – is Hulu something you’d pay to keep? Or does the notion of shelling out for it make you say “Thanks  but no thanks!”

Source: Broadcasting & Cable

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  1. The day I have to give hulu a credit card number? Bye, bye, hulu. I don’t watch tv now. So I won’t miss hulu that much.

  2. I don’t use hulo now, I don’t see the point since I usually watch my shows direct from the broadcasting comp. Obv that I would never pay for what I could watch for free, but I’m with you in that if they way up (and I mean bring in a ton of new content), I would consider paying (maybe), prob just a good way to lose everyone that uses them now.

  3. The only reason I ever started watching Hulu in the first place or even knew it existed is because of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog, and I have enjoyed going to them because I can watch House or The Daily Show when I want to, not because I just don’t feel like walking to the living room. I also don’t respect the idea that the adds that are all over the site and during every movie or tv show aren’t enough to pay for the site. It’s simply corporate greed and if they start charging me, I will go somewhere else.

  4. Here is what I say, Kofi: your ideas are all good ones. I think they would have to implement most or all of those if I were to buy in. So it would basically need to be a (cheaper) alternative to paying for a TV service, with the same content, but on demand.

    I would add one criterion not mentioned: Make any content on “paid” Hulu streamable to your TV via a Roku box, Xbox 360, etc.

  5. How much TV do we really need? The commercial they had about turning our brains to goo had an element of truth in it.

    I’ve been there a few times… I won’t really miss it.

  6. The only time I’ve found Hulu worthwhile is the very rare instance that something (like Conan O’Brien) has ended up there sooner than it’s been out via scene releases. Oh and the very rare instance where they have a good movie and I don’t feel like torrenting it. But TV shows? They’re out within 10 minutes of air time and can be found on rlslog, scnsrc, or eztv quite easily and dl’d in HD to your computer in under 20 minutes. Why would i use Hulu when it’s so inferior to this option?

  7. Pft, they’ll have to up their streaming speed faster than it is now! Ever notice their are no pauses in commercials? That’s not the case when your trying to watch a movie or show during peak hours. They pause for a few seconds at least once per show and most times many times more than that. Their’s no reason to charge viewers for content with personal computing power so widespread information flows both ways. All they have to do is request viewers acknowledge they watched the commercials. With data like that in hand they can more than justify rates to advertisers. If companies want to stay afloat they need to start listening better to the customer base or risk being left in the dust by those who do. My shopping patterns have changed dramatically over the last decade. It’s because vendors don’t take their customers wants to heart. If you don’t consistently carry what I buy I’ll tell you once, That’s it. After that I’m looking or buying it somewhere else.


    1 – Lack of any and all logic
    2 – Desire to provide the least bang for the lesser buck; aka Reality TV baby!

    3 – Above all, no matter how dumb it may at first appear to do, never fear that you may be possing off your customer base too much b/c no matter how you treat them, they’ll always come back for more.

    How does one become a TV network Exec? Do you have to down a bottle of idiot pills or just get beaten with the stupid stick real hard for a few days? This is about as bright as the Music Industry execs deciding and honestly believeing that they’d stop their losses by tracking down and suing the individual mp3 downloader b/c it would make an example of them to the rest. What idiots. Hulu already features commercials, just like my TV does and because the content is always a day (often more) after the shows debut on network TV it’s like getting to show the episode all over again. Gee, I wonder if the advertisers whose ads are run by Hulu are now gonna tell Hulu, Its about time we quit paying for these ads since the viewers are now gona be charged to watch stuff.

    Hulu – Say good bye to most of your viewership and hello to the DotCom graveyard which is the next stop for you b/c there’s no way people are gonna pay for your service especially in this economy. Oh and btw, you probably just gave a boost to illegal file sharing fo your shows by pulling this stupid stunt.

    You bunch of D.A.’s

  9. I agree with what Kofi said and the addendum by Evan. I’d add one more thing: eliminate the commercials. If you’re paying a fee for it, there shouldn’t be any BS commercials. It won’t happen, but it should. But why should I use Hulu when I already pay for Netflix AND I can get the shows for free from the websites of the networks? Also, I have cable, so I will just DVR the shows I want to watch or that I want to check out. Plus my cable company has on-demand TV as well. Hulu will shoot themselves in the foot with this.

  10. While I do believe there is a paid service for online TV out there I doubt any of the existing network execs would be able to implement it. These execs are from a different era and like the RIAA they just can’t or wont see the potential thats out there. They need a JJ Abrams to come along and shake up the corporate mindset.

    While I do use it I don’t use it that often. The content just isn’t there. Ive completely ditched cable for the most part. I have the basic minimum to get the discount for High Speed Internet. My days of paying for 24 hours of programming is long over.

    So if Hulu decided to charge a membership I definitely wouldn’t be interested. But if they charged a reasonable price for ala cart then I would consider it.

    There is definitely potential for Internet TV but again the current corporate mindset will never see it. Get rid of these dinosaurs and bring in some fresh meat with fresh perspective.

  11. who would pay for hulu? you can easily watch tv for free on any number sites or just download them. you never have to pay for anything you cant hold in your hand. once more people learn this, the better off we’ll be

  12. Those are all good ideas you’ve posted, Kofi.

    If Hulu charges for a membership, it would have to be loaded with some amazing benefits for me to even sign up for it. But, if it’s the same as it was when it was free, iI wouldn’t consider it really a good value.

    Basically, if I’m going to be paying for a Hulu membership, I want to get as much bang for my dollars as I possibly can.

  13. Kofi, the feds and the fcc are beginning to takeover the web for control of information. Yeah I know it sounds crazy,,,

    Today Newscorp began charging for its online services,,,
    This is a slow process. Check out the, “Net Neutrality bill”…

    Maybe write up a post,,, ;-)

  14. I’ve loved referring to them in our 24Podcast.Com effort, but I guess we’ll have to return back to asking people to buy the DVD sets, soundtracks and more via our Amazon Associates program. That’s too bad: The captioning on “24″ and other larger series JUST started. (shakes head).

    Remember though that their main advertising thrust was that they were aliens eating/sucking your brain. The fact is that they were attached to our WALLETs.

  15. This will certainly be the end of HULU.I used to use it occasionally,but there are other sites that are totally free with more material to chose from,so why would I want to pay for HULU?

    While HULU’s picture quality is probably the best of any of the other online video sites,I’ve found that their streaming is a bit choppy,of maybe it could just be my computer.I’ll trade free and not so crisp over paying a fee with a choppy crisp image any day.

    Sorry HULU,you fail.

  16. Only used it to watch old episode of Twilight Zone and Outer Limits.

    Have you guys checked out You Tube lately? There are channels just for (old) shows.

    I watched an old Outer Limits episode that was bigger than anything Hulu has…For free of course.
    Check it out:

  17. – dusts off DVD recorder — I only used Hulu for 1 show. What’s the point of advertisements during the show if now they want me to pay for it?

  18. Hey 790 check this out!

    Is he right or wrong?

  19. I only got the homepage, on that link Old Man,,, give me a shot off site and let me knw what your talking bout,,, ;-)

  20. I’m using hulu as i type this. I don’t want to have to pay for it :(

  21. While Hulu only offers a few shows that I actually like to watch, like Stargate and the occasional missed Heros, I don’t think that they offer enough for me to want to subscribe. This is a prime example of companies bringing people in and then saying, Oh we can make money off of this now so lets charge our faithful users, and who knows this may have been the intent all along. If or when they do go to a subscription service I will no longer go to there sit or tell people about it. Just hit them in the only place that hurts, the wallet!

  22. Maybe they would be best served going to a la carte as Craig mentioned instead of a membership plan.


  23. KOFI Scared Hulu. They said this late Friday:

    “Hulu’s mission has always been to help people find and enjoy the world’s premium, professionally produced content,” the rep said. “We continue to believe that the ad-supported free service is the one that resonates with the largest group of users and any possible new business models would serve to complement our existing offering. There are no details or timelines to share regarding our future product roadmap.”

    Don’t Eff With Our HULU!!!

  24. Ya know, Hulu’s greatest assest is also their downfall financially. They have the widest assortment of shows to watch but when you start going through the list you will see shows that have been digitally converted and offered that only had one season or shows that know one has ever heard of.

    There is a reason that the shows were canceled to begin with and putting them available online will not make them more popular (Firefly is a notable exception).

    Perhaps if they invested they money in delivering shows that audiences truly want to watch then they wouldn’t be so far in the red.

    All of Kofi’s ideas are great but if Hulu does start charging then I’ll just switch to

  25. If Hulu wants to become an inflated mess of media and charge people to visit their site, that’s their problem. I go only to watch The Office when I miss it on TV. We’re not going to pay money for Internet and, on top of that, Hulu membership just to watch something that can be seen on TV for free.

    However, if they’re maintaining the free service as well and are just adding an optional paid service, I’ll keep watching… so long as it’s not turned to crap.

  26. This move by the networks is just typical bi corporation greed. I am by no means pro-piracy or anti-capitalism; in fact I am very much a believer of the free market concept but these big corporations do not participate in the free market in the way it was designed. They artificially keep prices high and take advantage of users/customers anywhere and every chance they get and often more than once. Most media content providers from record labels to TV Networks are members of multi-platform corporations like Sony where sub or child companies specialize in certain areas like Music or movies. Back in the 80’s to the 90’s they screwed us (the customer/user) with the CD pricing model and then later with the DVD until the technology changed to where users could produce their own CD/DVD. Let me say that I am NOT for piracy. I believe that those who worked hard to produce something along with those who fronted the risk money to produce that content should get paid for their effort. What I do have problem with is the unethical manipulation of the market that is often made against the consumer.

    Case in Point : THE Music CD

    Back in the 80’s when the CD first was introduced you had to pay a premium to get the same content on a CD then what you would pay for that same content on a cassette tape or even a record. This price difference made sense because the (assumed) increased costs to produce the same content on CD was higher then to produce it in one of the more traditional formats. This same assumption would go for the DVD a decade later. The problem is that as the use of CD technology became wide spread and by logical evolution the cost of manufacturing CDs went down, the selling price of the CD remained artificially high. To this day, even though it is clear that the manufacturing cost and delivery of a CD is not only cheap but it is also certainly more expensive to produce and sell a cassette tape then a CD and yet the CD costs more to buy when comparing the non-sale price. Only after mass/widespread piracy by the every day user from downloading music via the internet (thanks to Napster) and optionally burning it to CD did the music industry finally do something. And did they try to cobat this by finally selling their content at a fare market price along with working to curtail piracy? No.

    While they were eventually forced to somewhat reduce the price of a CD (which still costs more than the same item on cassette tape) it was only after years of complaining about illegal use and copy right protection violation and an attempt to seek and persecute as well as prosecute the everyday user in an attempt to “Make an example” of them. This is the mentality and approach of a dictator/control freak, not that of a free market based participant looking to sell their wares at fare market value. The DVD went a similar path. With the exception of some promotion or sale a movie in DVD format has always cost more than its video cassette tape equivalent and there’s no way it costs more to produce a DVD version of a movie then a cassette tape. In fact, the digital only copy of some visual content like a movie should logically cost less than any other format and yet the movie companies and hesitant to charge less for a digital copy of their product.

    The reason for these discrepancies in price between one format and another for the same content is because of the mentality or approach to the market that these big corporations have. They are not pro-competition but pro-big business and this move by charging users for online video content that has already been paid for through advertising shown during the content’s airing is just the most recent example. I’m not against a copyright owners right to charge for their intellectual property as many times as they want, but I am opposed to how the big boys have not participated in the free market the way that all producers are supposed to.

    Mark my words, this move to charge for online delivery of TV content is not so as to increase profits as much as it is to encourage illegal/copyright violation by the masses so that they can then justify the need to completely lock down the open internet and highly restrict all activity on it. And if you think this is just conspiracy talk then check out recent news items on the internet and what’s being planned for it. We are seeing the last years, possibly months and days of the open net where speech is not restricted nor is anything else.

  27. BlueCollarCritic, I’ve been taking about the (problem/reaction/solution) formula on Web restrictions since Rupert Murdoch internally leaked the Wolverine work print.
    That inside job caused key members (in Murdochs pocket) in government to propose new laws that will restrict content in the very near future. I’m sure your aware that Newscorp the other day in conjunction with Hulu began charging for content. Murdoch actually wants to charge upwards of $200 a year for access to his new websites. (Like I’m going to pay for the lies?)

    Everyone laughed when I said it was an inside job. To this day the FBI still has no suspects…

    Yes this country and the internet is slowly day by day being systematically restricted and setup for control under double speak laws that will result in a radical shift in the future for ALL web content. That includes “Screen Rant”
    They way things are headed I could be fined for hate speech when I disagree with someone…
    Some people still think this is all conspiracy nonsense.
    Well don’t look now, here comes the NWO.

  28. NWO is already here 790…We lose more control everyday..I really don’t think it can be stopped becasue there are not enoough people who care….

  29. @790 – Amen & well said. I’m glad that we have the ability (not to emotion the right) to verbally go at it on these forums about our take on whatever the topic is. And I’m thankful that the site owner has the legal right to ban whatever he wants since it is his sight.

    This Hate Speech law is what we all should be hating. It sacres the H out of me to think one day someone will not be able to call me an A.H without being arrested. Scary day when that happens.