Hulu not switching to a pay site -- rest easy, web watchers

hulu-logo_lAttention, thrifty PopWatchers: It turns out beloved home of full-lengthy goodness Hulu is not going to start charging after all. A source tells EW that the site’s rumored pay structure would only be in addition to its free content, not instead of it. And a collective “phew” was heard ’round the Internet.

Ahh, sweet relief. I too initially balked at the idea of paying for Hulu, but at a certain point, there are definitely things I’d pay for: Premium content night-of (especially if it was à la carte and not subscription-based), a wider selection of shows, and maybe mobile compatibility. Once upon a time, everyone balked at the idea of paying for TV — uh, hello? It’s free over the airwaves! — but then cable came along, and it was worth getting, so people did. Lightning could strike twice or something, right? Everyone used Napster for a good long time to share music for free, but now plenty of people use iTunes and buy legal copies of songs and albums: again, we pay for some stuff.

Hulu’s main competitors aren’t other paid sites like Netflix (whose streaming options are great, but supplementary to the company’s main DVD model). The site’s rivals are the endlessly accessible — but not legal — video sharing sites. Yeah, lots are riddled with malware or garishly bedecked in noise-making panel ads, but those episodes go up almost immediately, and the breadth of content is almost unbelievable.

At some point, some content is going to show up online that we’re willing to pay for with money instead of attention or time. That day doesn’t appear to be today, though. Will you revel in continued freeness with me, PopWatchers, or has your skepticism taken over?


Comments (34 total) Add your comment
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  • davidsask

    Irrelevant to me and most of world as this only applies to the Americans!

    • AJ Simon

      So why comment snooty foreigner?

      As long as they don’t charge for classics I will be okay – Rockford Files, Simon and Simon, Silver Spoons, Knight Rider

      I hope they start posting episodes of the Mentalist

    • Jenny

      “to the Americans”. Um, maybe becuase almost all the shows are produced by Americans and hulu is an American company. Why comment?

      • Moe

        Why NOT comment.I mean he has a point,but to Hulu’s defense they are working on getting international copyright laws in order to for the international audience to view there content. One more thing, guys stop being ignorant americans,i mean its not the ONLY country in the world.

      • Gus

        Shut up, Moe. If you have deep seated anger towards Americans, that’s fine. But don’t discount valid points. Are all American owned websites discussing American Companies that feature American programming required to put the interests of Non-Americans first?

      • RL

        I agree with davidsask on this one. The Internet = The “World-Wide-Web”, so therefore when you have something available online it should be available globally, to all who has an internet connection. If these “ignorant Americans” want to keep this content to themselves, then I guess it’s off to BitTorrent for me, and may Piracy rein supreme!

        (Please note, I don’t condone illegal downloading. I only download illegally when I have no other option)

      • Juei

        @RL : So everything posted on the web has to pertain to everyone at every instance in every way?

        In any case, I’m sure there are country specific availabilities to most things. I would highly appreciate being able to view many overseas shows, but am not able to due to country restrictions, so is it alright for me to write these countries off as irrelevant, or ignorant for not offering me, someone outside their core audience, their countrymen, some free way to watch their stuff? I get it legally by, you know, having an international satellite service. You only insult another country for not offering extended service to you, when you don’t even LIVE there, and say there is no other way for you to reach that content by no other means than illegally downloading it? Correction, there is no CHEAP way for you to reach that content, therefore you download illegally, and then go online and complain about ignorant Americans and argue semantics.

      • thin

        This is an issue that has nothing to do with “ignorant Americans” and everything to do with the complexities of negotiating international copyright laws. The ignorance comes from people on both sides of the issue opining about a subject they clearly do not understand even slightly.

  • Mike

    So why respond?

  • CH

    An article I saw the other day said companies like Hulu will soon be forced to increase how many commercials per episode are shown on the site, so it seems like users might be pushed into subscriptions simply to avoid 234532343 commercials per show. I’m still wary.

  • Jen

    I only go to Hulu because it’s free. I have a funny feeling that the only free content they’ll be offerring will be the stuff I don’t want to watch. It’s like when itunes introduced it’s new pay structure–they claimed a lot of tunes would be below the traditional 99 cents, but I’ve not seen one! Goodbye Hulu!

  • mike shea

    If they made premium content available for a price, I’d consider it. Like if they put Friday Night Lights on during its DircTv run, I’d pay for that. Same for some of the shows on HBO and Showtime. But, I doubt that’s what they mean.

  • Michelle

    I “phewed” before I even read the line about the collective “phew”. I work at home, and stream Hulu all day and have done it since first reading about in EW nearly 2 years ago!

    • mscisluv

      If you sitting around watching Hulu all day under the guise of working at home, then I seriously want your job.

  • Booyah

    Paying for night-of might be the only temptation for me – I’m planning on getting rid of my TV and switching only to online viewing, but I am dreading not seeing the final episode of Lost the night it’s on…

  • Allie

    okay this is good news! i don’t care about the commercials as long as i don’t have to pay to use hulu.

  • B

    Yes, so long as the free content doesn’t decline in quality or quantity, this is a good thing. One thing I *might* pay for would be access to full seasons of shows, rather than the most recent 5 episodes that many current series have. I don’t know how streaming rights work, but trying to catch up on a show or go back and enjoy is frustrating when only 5 episodes are available. Having fees be a la carte would be a real necessity.

  • Mal

    I’d be willing to pay for night-of content, commercial-free content, or for the ability to stream through my blu-ray player or something, so I wouldn’t have to hook my computer up to my TV. Of course, since I am a relatively cheap person, I wouldn’t want to pay too high a $ figure. If they do by-episode, I wouldn’t want to be charged more than $1 an episode, and if they do subscriptions, no more than $15. And not per show, but, like, for X amount of hours of streaming or something…

  • Shannon

    If they put HBO & Showtime shows on as their air I would pay. It would be worth a few dollars a week to not have to wait until next summer to watch Dexter!

  • doitalld

    I don’t mind HULUs commercial structure… It is better to see 4-6 commercial breaks that are only 30 seconds each then to watch on broadcast where you get 6 2-4 minute commercial breaks. HULU has become my source for watching TV. I gave up cable TV over a year ago and haven’t missed it at all. I like spending my cold winter Sundays catching up on all my favorite shows at one time. I save at least an hour of my valuable time by watching on HULU.

  • jh

    HULU offers the best CLOSED CAPTIONING for my wife, who is deaf. If the other sites offered CC as well, we would use them. As is, HULU is the winner and her connection to the broader culture.

  • John Veem

    Wow, that makes perfect sense to me dude!


  • Jaclyn

    The only thing I would pay for to watch online would be shows from premium subscription cable networks like Dexter, True Blood, Weeds, US of Tara, etc… Getting those, without paying for the entire channel, and having them a la carte even, would be a great advantage. There have been so many times I’ve wanted to go and watch shows from HBO or Showtime online only to find the first episode available and you have to go buy the dvd’s for the rest…

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