Originally Posted by dfiler
This doesn't seem like a safe assumption. Broadcast television has been free for many decades and running a website is waaaaaaaaaaaaay cheaper than running a dedicated continent-wide broadcast system.
And yes, hulu is "free". Free is the correct term because viewers are not paying to view. Sure, there is advertising and advertising is annoying. But being annoyed isn't the same thing as paying money.
Perhaps you're confusing the concepts of "revenue supported" and "viewership fee supported". Hulu is getting paid, but not by the viewers. Hence it is free to the viewers.
I don't have the link right now but I'm fairly certain that Hulu itself has indicated that it wont be free forever, or that the free part is an experiment or some such. You're categorising my statement as a simple assumption on my part, but I don't think it's that clear, which is why I used the "very very likely" statement. It certainly seems very likely based on simple economics that it won't be free forever. The analogy to broadcast TV is faulty because through the magic of cablevision, we have already left the model of the advertising revenue being the only support for programming a long time ago. A network that gives away all it's content on the internet for free by putting ads in, is a network that won't be around for very long.
As for your analysis of "free" it's mostly semantics. I could construct a similar but opposite argument, but I won't get into it in too much detail here as I don't think many are interested.
One part of one argument to that end is to say that if the content is defined as the shows themselves, and "free" is defined as simply "free of payment" then the shows are "free" if you are thinking that the money
you are paying is the only "payment" you make. There are other forms of payment besides money. If you consider that you don't
want to watch the ads and only want to watch the show, then the forced watching of the ads are in fact the "payment" you are making to get to watch the show.
The point is that if the content is the shows, then the consumers are not free to watch that content without "paying" by being forced to watch the advertisements. In other words it's not an equivalent experience to simply watching the show, or you are not getting the "actual" show by watching the ad supported version.
Another way to look at it is to define "free" by revenue categories as is done in the app store. "Free" in that context is a different category than "free with ads." Hulu is quite obviously in the "free with ads" category and thus to be differentiated from another situation where the content is actually just plain old "free." If this isn't the case, then there is no way to differentiate the actually free content from the content that obtains it's money from the advertisements.
Primarily, what I meant to point out is just that these two types of "free" are structurally dissimilar, and not the same thing. Which is pretty much unassailable because they certainly are not
the same thing.