From the looks of it, the only good that will likely come out of Hulu’s addition of a premium TV service lies with its competitors. Apple and Google are the companies that are going to help redefine the way we watch TV in 2010. Google’s on the move trying to shoehorn search into current cable and satellite providers’ channel lineups. And Apple is likely going to refresh their Apple TV/iTunes ecosystem to compete as well.
Hulu’s banking on the fact that people will spend $10 a month in order to have full access to an extended catalog of Fox, NBC and ABC TV shows, but commercials inclusive.
There are probably a lot of consumers out there that are willing to take a hybrid approach to the manner in which they subscribe to content every month. If they can save themselves the extra fifty or so dollars a month in cable or satellite bills by subscribing to a cocktail of a few smaller and cheaper services for TV, that’s probably the echelon most will begin moving into.
I personally use DirecTV HD service as something of a main video source, as well as subscribing to Netflix every month. Our DirecTV bill adds up to about $90/month, while Netflix runs me about $11/month for one Blu-ray rental at a time and all of the Instant Watch streaming video I can eat between my PC, Mac, Xbox 360, and PS3 — and soon iPhone too. Another substantial source of video for me is video podcasts via iTunes on my PC and Mac, which are also accessible from my Apple TV and iPhone. All in all, right now much of my TV watching is done via Netflix streaming and DirecTV, while the rest of my media intake comes in podcast form.
The problem with Hulu’s push to finally be on more screens is that Plus isn’t really a replacement service for cable or satellite subscriptions. Hulu’s head himself has dubbed the Hulu Plus as a companion to standard cable or satellite service from a provider.
At the end of the day, Hulu Plus brings nothing revolutionary to the table as far as giving you all the content you get with cable whenever you want, wherever you want. With this new service, they’re simply providing you with a limited library of shows (that aren’t premium, and still with ads) in more locations than just your PC or Mac. Stream-able content on mainstream set-top boxes and on portable devices like the iPhone and iPad is the only intriguing facet of Hulu Plus. Not to mention Netflix’s iPhone app is due any minute now.
We’ll see how Hulu Plus fairs once it’s available in more places than just the iPhone’s App Store, like Sony’s PlayStation Network and Xbox Live; but what I’m really curious to see is what Apple brings to the table in the coming months. Hulu introducing this new service can only spur Apple to revamp their pricing models in the iTunes store for movies and TV shows — and maybe even scrap downloads altogether in favor of streaming content.