I have seen news items and speculation for upwards of a year or so on whether Hulu will add a paid tier to its current ad supported model that they currently use. The current article has stated that the subscription service Hulu will offer is as follows: (they basically got it right on the price, only 1 cent off at $9.99)
For $10 a month, viewers will reportedly have access to a wider selection of shows than the free, ad-supported version Hulu currently offers. The service would work on PCs and specialized devices such as the iPad, videogame consoles and set-top boxes.
That price range is within the area that I would be willing to pay depending on the content/shows available. In the article it also talks about a report that Hulu “is talking with CBS, Viacom and Time Warner’s television studio divisions to add their shows [to Hulu],” additional content is crucial to getting to people to sign up and then retaining them as subscribers. Hopefully this part will come true.
If the networks prove they can charge consumers directly, and consumers are happy to supply their own “cable boxes” in the form of game consoles, television-connected computers, set-top boxes, tablets and so on, it’s difficult to see why networks would tolerate cable and satellite providers grabbing a slice of profits, just for sending the shows through one pipe rather than the other.
This is where the potential for change comes in, with subscriptions to Hulu and say another service like Netflix and its streaming service I could see people getting enough content of movies and TV to not have cable any more. If Hulu is able to add CBS to their offerings then obviously they have all the big four broadcast networks and it’s that much easier to cut the cord for cable. It is important to have the broadcast networks on Hulu, but the area it would be personally most important for me is to make sure to to get the best cable shows on Hulu Plus. If I cancel cable, I can still receive CBS, ABC, FOX, and NBC over the air using an antenna. With that in mind I want more of the popular cable shows like Mad Men from AMC. Hulu does have some cable shows but I would want more of them.
The other angle that would make me hesitate on whether I would pay for Hulu Plus or not is how soon after the show airs would it be up on Hulu. While a lot of the shows on Hulu are on the next morning I believe, on some shows like Stargate Universe and some others (not sure what shows) Hulu is one episode behind and episodes are not on the site until the next new one airs. That is a big drawback for me. Not sure if I really want to have to wait a week or even several days before the shows are on the website, so will have to wait and see on this aspect of it.
Back to the title of the post. I think potentially internet-based tv services like Hulu as they expand more have the potential to really harm cable companies but I personally don’t see that happening at least for the next year or two or maybe longer. Certainly more long term I can see where they take over or really impact the cable companies, but only the future will tell.