Hulu on Tuesday unveiled a subscription service that offers viewers access to full seasons of TV shows on a slew of devices. Dubbed Hulu Plus, consumers can tap into the service for $9.99 a month to watch shows whenever and wherever they want.
Hulu CEO Jason Kilar said Hulu Plus is the company's answer to the question of "What if your favorite TV shows loved you back?" He was careful to explain that Hulu Plus is not a Hulu.com replacement, but an ad-supported subscription product meant to compliment the existing Hulu service.
"For almost all of the current broadcast shows on our service, Hulu Plus offers the full season. Every single episode of the current season will be available, not just a handful of trailing episodes," Kilar said, noting the availability of shows like Family Guy, Glee, The Office, 30 Rock, Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, and more.
TV on the iPhone 4
Hulu Plus subscribers also get access to back seasons or full runs of some modern TV classics, including all nine seasons of The X-Files, all three seasons of Arrested Development, 10 seasons of Law and Order: SVU, and all five seasons of Ally McBeal. Kilar called it a "treasure chest in the cloud for TV lovers."
With Hulu Plus, subscribers can also go beyond the browser on a Mac or PC. Hulu Plus opens the door to watching programs on a television set -- if viewers have a Samsung Internet-connected TV or a Blu-ray player. Viewers can download a Hulu Plus application from the Samsung app store and stream Hulu Plus directly to the TV. Hulu Plus is also accessible on Wi-Fi and 3G devices like Apple's iPad, iPhone 3GS, or third-generation iPod touch.
"You can start watching a show on your HDTV one night, pick up where you left off on your laptop at lunch, watch another chunk on the bus ride home on your iPhone, and finish watching in bed on your iPad. These are the devices shipping with Hulu Plus today," Kilar said, noting that the company is working to port Hulu Plus to other devices and platforms, including Sony's PlayStation 3.
Will Hulu Plus Flop?
Phil Leigh, a senior analyst at Inside Digital Media, isn't betting for Hulu Plus in the digital television space. As he sees it, advertisers need to figure out how to make Hulu successful by designing ads that viewers want to click on to either buy merchandise, register for a newsletter, or take some other call to action.
"There are far too many web sites offering subscription services. Really, all Hulu offers for the additional $10 a month is programs you can get elsewhere. People are going to be reluctant to spend $10 to get something they can watch on TV," Leigh said. "It's an indictment on the advertising industry that they have failed to come up with ads that work on the Internet."