So Hulu announced their new Hulu Plus subscription service this week and I just wanted to say… it sucks.
Now hear me out, because I’m a big fan of Hulu. I am not, however, a fan of paying for ads. Nor am I a fan of paying more for less. And, unfortunately, that is what’s happening with Hulu Plus.
Let’s start with the advertisements. I have no problem watching ads in order to view TV. I’ve been doing it for years, and it’s worked out pretty well for me. But the reason that I loved Hulu in the early days is that the ads were fewer and (as the service grew) targeted to the viewer. Unfortunately, Hulu decided that they weren’t making enough money from ads and needed to start a subscription-based model to bring in more money. The good news, now Hulu can afford to pay all those pesky licensing fees so that they can show every episode from every series they’ve got online, even if it’s the current season of your favorite ABC drama. The bad news, Hulu forgot that people paying for Internet-based subscription-driven websites don’t like to also be forced to watch ads during their shows.
Why is this a problem? For starters, Netflix already offers a great deal of the same shows with no ads for a cheaper price. Furthermore, Netflix offers something that Hulu doesn’t (which brings me to my second issue, paying more for less). At Netflix, $9 per month will get you unlimited streaming and 1 DVD out at a time from Netflix’s vast rental library. That’s $1 cheaper than Hulu Plus’s $10 subscription fee and includes the added bonus of being able to watch shows and movies that aren’t available for streaming without ever leaving your house to go rent them (except of course when you walk to your mailbox, but if you’re that agoraphobic, then you have larger problems).
So why will people use Hulu? Honestly, because it’s still a fairly cheap service and has established itself as a common enough name that people trust the brand. Also, the free content remains free, so people will be pressured to sign up while viewing the free content. It’s a business model that has worked well in the past. Netflix doesn’t have any sort of free service. The only way to try before you buy is to sign up for a free month and see how it fits. Plus, if you want access to Hulu on your iPhone or iPad, you’ve got to be a subscriber (though, again, Netflix offers this service for the iPad already and will be adding the iPhone very soon).
Hey, maybe you’ve got money to burn and can afford a subscription to both. If that’s the case, feel free to sign me up, as well. Being able to watch every season of Stargate SG-1 while I’m waiting for my tires to get changed is an excellent use of my (still) unlimited data plan. Suck on that, AT&T.