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You are here: Home / Personal Tech / Exec Suggests Hulu Might Set Fees
Hulu Might Consider Charging Fees, Executive Says
Hulu Might Consider Charging Fees, Executive Says
By Patricia Resende / CRM Daily Like this on Facebook Tweet this Link thison Linkedin Link this on Google Plus
Hulu may go from offering free online access to TV shows, movies and clips to a fee-based model, according to an executive from News Corp. Hulu is a joint venture between News Corp., NBC Universal, and Disney.

Over time, paying for some of the content on Hulu is a logical thing, said News Corp. Chief Digital Officer Jonathan Miller during an Internet Week event earlier this week. Miller, who was formerly at AOL, prefaced his comments by saying he won't attend his first Hulu board meeting until Monday, June 8, so his opinions are his own.

"I don't see why over time that shouldn't happen," Miller said. "I don't think it's on the agenda for Monday {but} it seems to me that over time that could be a logical thing."

"It was essentially a throwaway comment and more a reflection of whether they would," said Michael Gartenberg, a vice president at Interpret. "The question is what they'll pay for what content and under what consequences."

Money, Money

Celebrating its first year recently, Hulu went from being in beta to offering users access to online videos, television shows, and clips from various providers of content and has had tremendous growth. In the past year, the company has gone from 50 content partners to more than 130, has grown the number of advertisers from 30 to 175, and has increased the number of streams from 63 million as of May to 308 million.

Although the service has gained a lot of momentum, and has been backed by top players, including Fox, MGM and Sony Pictures Television, moving from a free model to a fee-based model may put the brakes on Hulu's momentum.

"Of course you'll have to pay for it," posted one blog poster with the screen name bloominoctober. "Hulu was too much of a good thing to last very long."

Others, however, believe it won't happen. "We won't have to pay for Hulu," wrote Kolop1. "It will never happen. People will just torrent, and they know it."

"The one thing we know is premium content is worth paying for and people will pay for it," Gartenberg said. "Do I think people will pay for Hulu for something they will watch on TV at their leisure, absolutely."

How much people will pay for viewing content, however, is the question, according to Gartenberg.

"It's impossible to speculate; it depends on the cost," he said. "Would it be a subscription or pay-per-view model including advertising, would the price point be significantly lower than cable service, will Hulu create a solution that would move content beyond the PC and on the TV set?"

Making Tough Choices

While it's too early to tell whether Hulu's board will consider Miller's opinion, one thing has been clear: Hulu is going through growing pains.

This isn't the first time Hulu's board will have to make a tough decision. In February, the board said it had its hands tied after cutting Boxee's access to Hulu's content. Content providers had asked Hulu to block Boxee.

Hulu CEO Jason Kilar said it was a difficult thing to do, but he had no choice.

Hulu's users, however, will have a choice.

"At the end of the day, content has to be paid for whether advertising or subscription," Gartenberg said.

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