An interesting update on the $9.99/month Hulu Plus service which was announced this week after long speculation of Hulu moving to a paid subscription service. While it seems like a classic example of the web’s freemium model, it turns out nothing is that simple in the land of Hollywood content licensing.
What we’re hearing from sources who are closely familiar with the new service is that viewers shouldn’t expect to see all of the content they are used to watching through Hulu.com, as several of the studios who were not equity partners in Hulu—like Sony, Warner Bros. and MGM—did not agree to participate in Hulu Plus.
If you look closely at Hulu CEO Jason Kilar’s blog post announcing the service earlier this week, he does allude to some content not making it into the paid service, though does say “almost all.”
Hulu Plus is a new, revolutionary ad-supported subscription product that is incremental and complementary to 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. Now there’s never a bad time to jump in on a hot new show like Modern Family (which I recommend highly). From Family Guy to Glee, from The Office to 30 Rock, from Grey’s Anatomy to Desperate Housewives, from Parks & Recreation to Parenthood, from House to Saturday Night Live, and dozens of other hits, the best time to jump in on any series is any time, and with any episode, that’s right for you.
The problem here might be in the naming, as consumers are no doubt thinking Hulu.com is the free (ad-supported) option, which they can pay $9.99/month for the Hulu “Plus” premium package. What they will really be getting, it appears, is the content on Hulu, plus some added back catalog, but minus a heap of those other studios content.
So as of now, popular TV shows like Two and Half Men, The Vampire Diaries, Ellen along with original web series like Crackle’s Urban Wolf and TheWB.com’s The Lake, won’t be streaming on that nifty new iPad/iPhone app.
Hulu did not respond with comment on this information as of publishing. But to be fair, Kilar does end his intro of Hulu Plus admitting that there’s still a lot to be done on the product. “Is our work done? Not even close,” wrote Kilar. “There are more shows to license, more countries to expand into, and more product features to build. And we will.”