Hulu Head Poses Pay-Structure Possibility

By June 04, 2009

Jonathan Miller caused some excitement recently with some ideas to overhaul network television streaming site Hulu. The head of digital initiatives at Rupert Murdoch's News Corp and co-owner of Hulu wants to incorporate paid-content structure into the currently free service. This could have quite an impact for the third largest video streaming site in the US, since site growth has leveled out quite a bit. The statement comes before being cleared at an actual board meeting, so there is a possibility that we will not see this development actually affect the site. But the story is taking hold because such a change in monetizing is as predictable as it is disappointing.

As visitor growth slows and advertising dollars stagnate, it would be a natural progression for the chief officers of Hulu to search for untapped resources. The trouble with relying on viewers for that cash is that with any obstacles to free content, those viewers can easily turn elsewhere. For most, it is a matter of returning to what they were using before Hulu came along, mainly YouTube and BitTorrent.

But despite the conjecture of this situation, video, marketing and other experts are offering Hulu their advice.

Bobby Tulsiani said on Information Week today that a different strategy could make for success in a paid Hulu service. The site could introduce paid content that was not just mirroring the current network offering, such as an entire television series that is "no longer on the air." Which it already does, with "Star Trek: The Original Series." Mr. Tulsiani is obviously not a Trekker.

This author will venture to say that hardly anyone will pay for a Hulu subscription. Why would they with the same content for free on the bigger screen in the living room? So keep it free, Hulu. And while you're at it, bring it to the International audience. It will spur DVD sales or something.

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