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Hulu fears ABC iPad app could hurt its $9.95 subscription plans

post #1 of 57
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Online streaming service Hulu is expected to introduce a $9.95-per-month subscription plan on May 24, but the company reportedly fears a free streaming application from ABC for the iPad could undermine its efforts.

The Los Angeles Times this week reported that Hulu plans to introduce a new service, dubbed Hulu Plus, that would give users access to a greater range of content. Customers would still be able to view the five most recent episodes of popular shows like "Lost" and Glee" for free, but subscribes would have access to a "more comprehensive selection," the report said.

Hulu also has plans to tie its subscription service in with a new iPad application. But according to Peter Kafka at MediaMemo, Hulu's iPad subscription aspirations could be devalued by a free streaming video application from ABC already available on the App Store.

Citing industry sources, Kafka said that Hulu CEO Jason Kilar "tried desperately to get ABC not to introduce its free app," because ABC giving away free content makes subscription-based access to Hulu on the iPad seem less valuable. ABC obviously did not place much weight behind Kilar's concerns, as the network's streaming application was available on the iPad from day one, and has found great success.

ABC's embrace of the iPad should come as no surprise, as the network is owned by Disney, of which Apple CEO Steve Jobs is the single-largest shareholder. In addition, after the iPad was announced, Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger called the iPad a "game changer" and said his company has big plans for interactive content on the device.

The Hulu subscription will reportedly only apply to shows from ABC, NBC and Fox. Cable networks like AMC and FX, Kafka said, will not offer content with the $9.95-a-month plan.

While current plans call for the most recent content on Hulu's website to remain free for viewers, previous reports have alleged that the iPad application will be a pay-only service.

Hulu could incentivize its subscription plan with Apple's iPad, and also offer a "window" where content is available to subscribers before it can be seen for free by the general public. According to the Times, it is Hulu's business partners that have pressured it into the subscription plans, "to both bolster revenue and train viewers to pay for online access to professionally produced content."
post #2 of 57
I would say that is a good reason to be scared.

I do not think the Jobs -> Disney -> ABC relationship has a thing to do with it. It is a matter of free or paid - now if Hulu with no commercials may be viable.
post #3 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damn_Its_Hot View Post

I would say that is a good reason to be scared.

I do not think the Jobs -> Disney -> ABC relationship has a thing to do with it. It is a matter of free or paid - now if Hulu with no commercials may be viable.

Totally agree. The market changes--nothing new to capitalism--so change your business strategy.
post #4 of 57
think about all the different services we have subscriptions to, cell phone, cable, premium channels for cable, Netflix, a choice of various music services, etc... Do we really need to pay for something that not too long ago was free with every TV?
post #5 of 57
Bob Iger at ABC has been one of the fastest moving execs in the TV industry. Don't forget that ABC was the first one to offer TV shows on iTunes, before Jobs ever owned a single share in Disney. I don't think the Disney-Jobs-Apple connection had as much to do with ABC being there with an app, as much as the fact that ABC simply believed in the iPad's success.
post #6 of 57
There is no reason why ABC couldn't also introduce a premium version that can play archived episodes and perhaps even Disney film content.

The key thing here is how many ads will accompany the content. Netflix instant is a hit because it has no ads. In fact I'm quite happy to watch Lost 6 months after everyone else, just so I don't have to suffer them.

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post #7 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by addicted44 View Post

Bob Iger at ABC has been one of the fastest moving execs in the TV industry. Don't forget that ABC was the first one to offer TV shows on iTunes, before Jobs ever owned a single share in Disney. I don't think the Disney-Jobs-Apple connection had as much to do with ABC being there with an app, as much as the fact that ABC simply believed in the iPad's success.

Okay... And I'm all for ABCs moves I think they are doing many positive things in the digital distribution space! However, lets not pretend Steve was some kind of stranger to Disney. He was the CEO of Pixar, and perhaps the one saving grace Disney had in its animated movie lineup for ... what 5-7 years? more?? What I'm saying is we can't overlook HOW Steve became the single largest private/personal stockholder in Disney and if you don't think Steve had the attention of the Disney board prior to Disney's acquisition of Pixar I'm gonna bet you'd be mistaken.

Now all that being said, Steve's influence can only go so far... They had to WANT to do it too. So, I do agree with you that Steve wasn't the ONLY driving force that compelled ABC/Disney to so fully embrace the iTunes and APP Stores so quickly but none the less he was "one force".
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post #8 of 57
Sounds to me like Hulu doesn't like other companies using it's business model.
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post #9 of 57
It's only a matter of time before every channel figures out for themself that they could house their HD content with Google, offer it streaming over their own app and split pre-roll ad revenue, no subscription. It's a free-for-all right now and I would not make any binding long term deals with Hulu if I were in any of their shoes.

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post #10 of 57
woof woof
post #11 of 57
$9.95?! Per month? ~$120 per year for something we can get for free on a laptop?

Do these guys live on the same planet?
post #12 of 57
Compete or die, Hulu.
post #13 of 57
Who is actually going to pay for this? A DVR costs the same per month and you can record every channel you own. LOL, arguably their best two channels (AMC & FX) are not even included!
post #14 of 57
If you want paid subscriptions to work, bring live programming to the table.
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post #15 of 57
I'd rather endure commercials than take on another monthly fee.

If every network provided their content online (why wouldn't they?), then really what is the point of Hulu?
post #16 of 57
I think for everything but a few niches, like sports, the concept of live tv is dead. People don't want to be bound to network time slots. People want to watch the shows they want to watch when they have the time to watch them. That's why DVRs are so great.

As for training people to pay for content I think the studio execs are retarded. People have never paid for content. Advertisers have always paid. When the networks were over the air only they freaked out about cable service. When VCRs came out the move studios freaked out about that. Now something like half of all the revenue for movie studios comes from renting and selling videos that people watch at home.

Being a media exec must be a cushy job. Everyone else has to drag them kicking and screaming into the present so they can make even more money.
post #17 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by kerryb View Post

think about all the different services we have subscriptions to, cell phone, cable, premium channels for cable, Netflix, a choice of various music services, etc... Do we really need to pay for something that not too long ago was free with every TV?

Agree 100%. i refuse to pay 9.99 for hulu when its free on my imac and i already have netflix.
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post #18 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by kerryb View Post

think about all the different services we have subscriptions to, cell phone, cable, premium channels for cable, Netflix, a choice of various music services, etc... Do we really need to pay for something that not too long ago was free with every TV?

Welcome to adulthood where you are responsible for paying your own bills. I don't know about you but I've always paid for phone service (land and cell), cable, premium channels for cable, rented movies, and music. I don't remember any of those being free. Beside, you have the option to not use subscription services. There are prepaid phones and pay per episode TV shows (iTunes), and music sold per track (iTunes). Subscription services are great for many and it is not the only option.

People will choose free over paid and if other decided to follow ABC then Hulu subscription service will not work good for them.
post #19 of 57
I dont thik this hulu service will catch on, on the ipad. Most people that will use the ipad that got the wifi model will use it mainly at home and the odds are that they have cable/internet with some type of laptop/desktop that thay they can already watch hulu on for free. If they by some chance they catch wifi connect outside of home its not going to be to go on and watch hulu once or twice and pay 10 bucks for it..... This defenately wont catch on. If they were smart they would just make and a free App and run commercials and that will fly with alot of ipad users. Now on the ipad 3g model maybe that could work but i dont think people are going to pay another 10.00 a month on top of there pay as you go option with At&t 3g that's way too many bills.
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post #20 of 57
Actually we are being trained NOT TO PAY. Who would? It is a lousy offer on its face.

It will be offers like these that will make everything free and make iAd a huge success. I believe iAd will work because we will be given a CHOICE to click on an ad and get involved with its contents, or not to click.

iAd seems to be the answer to advertising paid content for the net, just like the advertising paradigm we have "enjoyed" on TV for decades.
post #21 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by kerryb View Post

think about all the different services we have subscriptions to, cell phone, cable, premium channels for cable, Netflix, a choice of various music services, etc... Do we really need to pay for something that not too long ago was free with every TV?

if you mix

free abc and sy fi >>great shows
almost free netflix >>roku >>wi >MLB>amazon hd movie tv service ..decent shows some hd coming now
but blu ray discs in the mail is great

and your reg dvr broadband saved shows/movies

plus some great blu ray flicks

and your paid for /ripped itunes content

HULU look like a block buster purchase right now

i mean i don;t ever get HBO or those extra extras channels
and i still have an over load of free or cheap content

if some one gets their shit together then the 60 bucks a month cabe channel charge can be killed

hulu smulu
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post #22 of 57
Hulu's "business partners" don't get it - the cat is already out of the bag. The instant they introduced Hulu as a free service the value of their content was fixed in consumer's eyes: free.

Hulu may have been launched as a pre-emptive move to stop the spread of Napster-like piracy, but the end result is the same.
post #23 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by kerryb View Post

think about all the different services we have subscriptions to, cell phone, cable, premium channels for cable, Netflix, a choice of various music services, etc... Do we really need to pay for something that not too long ago was free with every TV?

While I agree with overall sentiment it should be pointed out that cable and satellite TV took off after 50(?) years of free TV. Then Cable and satelliet charged you access to channels that were ad supported and additional fees to channels that weren't ad-free, yet they were still successful.

I think there is definitely a business model in there for Hulu to charge for certain content.
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post #24 of 57
$4.99 is a good price point I think.
post #25 of 57
They're worried that ABC's free iPad app makes their content seem less valuable? IT IS LESS VALUABLE.

I'm OK with Hulu's commercials, but unless the 9.95 version is commercial free, I don't think they'll have many takers.
post #26 of 57
Good! Give it away for free then. I mean $10 and it'll still have ads? I wouldn't have bit anyway.
post #27 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikecancook View Post

I think for everything but a few niches, like sports, the concept of live tv is dead. People don't want to be bound to network time slots. People want to watch the shows they want to watch when they have the time to watch them. That's why DVRs are so great.

As for training people to pay for content I think the studio execs are retarded. People have never paid for content. Advertisers have always paid. When the networks were over the air only they freaked out about cable service. When VCRs came out the move studios freaked out about that. Now something like half of all the revenue for movie studios comes from renting and selling videos that people watch at home.

Being a media exec must be a cushy job. Everyone else has to drag them kicking and screaming into the present so they can make even more money.

Sports is one massive niche... People want their sports live and to be able to watch their favorite TV show the instant it is available. That will never change. After that, people also want the flexibility to watch what they want, when they want. Right now, internet streaming largely only delivers on the second aspect, but having access to programming as soon as it is available elsewhere is equally important.
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post #28 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikecancook View Post

I think for everything but a few niches, like sports, the concept of live tv is dead.

I barely watch live broadcast TV anymore. It's all online. It might not be up to the minute, but on YouTube, for instance, the newest episodes of my preferred shows are up within 1-2 days. Further, there are so many other free sites that offer all the popular shows, and some dedicated sites as well.

Canadians don't get Hulu yet, but with a bit of searching alternatives are readily available.
post #29 of 57
ABC isn't going to hurt Hulu, Hulu is going to hurt Hulu.

$9.95 for crap? I think not when I can pay the same price at Netflix and get all I can eat movies from a large catalogue.

Hulu either needs to remain free or offer high quality HD content at a low price (lower than $9.95). Otherwise it's a complete waste of time and money.
post #30 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by dualie View Post

I think not when I can pay the same price at Netflix and get all I can eat movies from a large catalogue.

I don't know why people keep comparing the costs to Netflix. Hulu has a huge leg up over Netflix. I don't care if Netflix has 10 billion TV shows dating back to the 1960s, if I want to watch a new series Netflix will not have it until the DVDs for that season are released.
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post #31 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I don't know why people keep comparing the costs to Netflix. Hulu has a huge leg up over Netflix. I don't care if Netflix has 10 billion TV shows dating back to the 1960s, if I want to watch a new series Netflix will not have it until the DVDs for that season are released.

But then there are shows that are available on the same day (ex Spartacus: Blood and Sand) or the next day (ex Legend of the Seeker) on Netflix. In the latter example, I can watch it in HD commercial free on my PS3 the day after its on TV. I'm sure there are more examples as well.
post #32 of 57
I love Hulu but they are crazy if they think that iPad users are stupid enough to subsidize a service everyone else gets for free.

I might pay a nominal per episode fee for older episodes (beyond the five trailing or so) or a SMALL per month fee for access to the same. As long as A) the changes applied to everyone using Hulu and B) It was available everyone i.e. stop blocking boxee and all the other streaming boxes from hitting the site.

Other than that I am not interested on principle alone. Not to mention the fact that there is not much money left after being taken to the cleaners by AT&T's ridiculous nickel and dime data plans.
post #33 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by tazinlwfl View Post

But then there are shows that are available on the same day (ex Spartacus: Blood and Sand) or the next day (ex Legend of the Seeker) on Netflix. In the latter example, I can watch it in HD commercial free on my PS3 the day after its on TV. I'm sure there are more examples as well.

Ah, see i was not aware that they got new licensing for that. Thanks. Is this with a select few shows of channels or is this pretty much across the board?
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post #34 of 57
We seem to be in the "throw it against the wall and see if it sticks" approach to business. By the time you add up all the "small monthly fees" you're talking about some serious money for a lot of people.

Personally I hope it fails big time. Let's get back to delivering value for the money customers are already paying.
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post #35 of 57
"...train viewers to pay..." ?!??

Love that attitude, eh?

I think it's notable that there's no mention of whether one must still suffer "commercial breaks" with the subscription plan... I prefer waiting and watching episodes well after they air, if it means I can watch them commercial-free. I subscribe to Netflix for this exact reason. I watched the first 5 seasons of Lost (and other series) that way, and it was great... That alone is worth the monthly subscription to me...

I'd consider Hulu's subscription service if they offered a truly expanded selection, but if it's only 3 stations, I don't see that... and it'd all have to be commercial-free, or it's a complete deal-breaker.
post #36 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I don't know why people keep comparing the costs to Netflix. Hulu has a huge leg up over Netflix. I don't care if Netflix has 10 billion TV shows dating back to the 1960s, if I want to watch a new series Netflix will not have it until the DVDs for that season are released.

I know that you might think that, but, for example, I like Perry Mason. There were nine seasons of it, and when I last looked at Hulu (today, 22 April 2010), there were only 40 episodes (Season 1 and 1 of Season 2) of it available. There are four seasons available on DVD. This information is of course anecdotal for Perry Mason, but I think looking at the rest of their catalogue and noting that it is also incomplete, I feel safe in the extrapolation that for older stuff, Netflix is ahead of Hulu.

For newer stuff Hulu is also (still) incomplete. I looked at House MD (again, today) and there are a few episodes listed, but there are 5 seasons available on DVD. I can't answer how this compares to Netflix since I don't use Netflix either, but paying for content that is of reduced visual quality (655x355) compared to DVD (720x480), littered with ads, incomplete catalogue, etc. is not something I consider. Hulu is so inferior to me, that I don't even use it for free now, I get the DVDs as they come out and use them on demand in 480i/p depending on the source and my computer upscales them to 1280x720 for viewing. Visual quality is as good as possible considering the DVD source resolutions.

For me (I realize that not everyone has the same imperatives as me) a free Hulu doesn't even cut it, so how do they expect to get a fee out of me (or people like me)?
post #37 of 57
I predict Hulu will get about 350 subscriptions. All from people who are reviewing the service.
post #38 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by wilson5336 View Post

I dont thik this hulu service will catch on, on the ipad. Most people that will use the ipad that got the wifi model will use it mainly at home and the odds are that they have cable/internet with some type of laptop/desktop that thay they can already watch hulu on for free. If they by some chance they catch wifi connect outside of home its not going to be to go on and watch hulu once or twice and pay 10 bucks for it..... This defenately wont catch on. If they were smart they would just make and a free App and run commercials and that will fly with alot of ipad users. Now on the ipad 3g model maybe that could work but i dont think people are going to pay another 10.00 a month on top of there pay as you go option with At&t 3g that's way too many bills.

i have to disagree. I am currently sitting on an American Airlnes flight 35k feet above the US try ping this. the wifi on this plane is fantastic. I can watch Netflix right now without issue. I would love to watch ABC but it tells me I am outside the US so not sure what is up with that. bottom line wifi is everywhere and will only grow stronger each day. Yes I paid for this service ($15 for 30 days access, i have 4 flights in the next30 days, plus the iPad is seen as a mobile device so it is cheaper than a laptop). I can't wait until other networks follow suit but agree I won't buy a subscription to Hulu I would rather have ads.
post #39 of 57
I subscribed to Netflix the same day I got my iPad.

I would find it difficult to justify subscribing to Hulu which would cost more but have less content.

They are still running Flash, not HTML5, so the point is somewhat moot right now isn't it?
post #40 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by kerryb View Post

think about all the different services we have subscriptions to, cell phone, cable, premium channels for cable, Netflix, a choice of various music services, etc... Do we really need to pay for something that not too long ago was free with every TV?


on air wouldn't give you commercial free access to a whole season of stuff. even if you tivo or tape, you still have to skip the ads.

now if Hulu could offer that, they might get somewhere.

how about this gig. Hulu plus is paid and ad free and access to the whole season. for $9.95 you get the Big 5. then for an additional 50 cents each you can add as many other channels from the cable stuff as you like.

or they could do a Hulu plus and a Hulu ultimate. Plus is the standard 5 eps (again no ads) but Ultimate is the whole season for $19.95 for the big 5 and a $1 for each other channel.

I know a lot of folks that would pay that kind of deal. I pay $50 a month for cable and never watch any thing more than the main 5 plus Syfy, BBC America, TNT, USA, Bravo and perhaps 3 more stations. So on the Ultimate scheme I would be paying $20 less.

And if that plan worked with hulu desktop as well as the ipad app, I'd be set. I could watch stuff at home or even during the commute or at work. and if they could get the eps up the next day it would be no worse than right now since I work evenings and watch stuff in the morning or days later already. I could drop my cable and be none the worse for wear.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikecancook View Post

. Advertisers have always paid.

yep and that's the real issue. see the tv industry has their collective heads up their asses. they still have 'success' tied to the outdated and faulty Nielsen system. they don't credit shows with anything from online sources in the make back on budgets. it's all the ad money.

so anything that could ding those crap ratings counts is evil and the networks avoid it. rather than embracing it and not only insisting on a better count system for on air but also adding itunes sales, amazon sales, ad money from official sites, hulu etc to the mix and using the collective to judge shows.

which is part of why we have so much crap on tv and potentially good shows are gone in 6 eps (the other reasons are a discussion for a different board)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldenclaw View Post

They are still running Flash, not HTML5, so the point is somewhat moot right now isn't it?

with an ipad app it doesn't matter what the web version is doing. all that matters is that the video is in a usuable format.
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