Stop Overreacting: Hulu Not Ditching Free Yet
from the hold-your-horses dept
A ton of readers here have been submitting various versions of stories claiming that Hulu is getting rid of free content. I’d been ignoring the story, because it’s a non-story at this point. But people keep submitting it, so let’s go through the details. Basically, at a Broadcasting & Cable event, News Corp. Deputy Chairman Chase Carey basically said that free content isn’t the best way to monetize and that Hulu “concurs.” Here’s specifically how B&C reported it:
“It’s time to start getting paid for broadcast content online,” he said. Carey said that while everyone cites the infamous Jeff Zucker quip that “We’e exchanging analogue dollars for digital dimes,” the industry continues to do exactly that. The strategy needs to be more than just fighting piracy and Google, he says.
“I think a free model is a very difficult way to capture the value of our content. I think what we need to do is deliver that content to consumers in a way where they will appreciate the value,” Carey said. “Hulu concurs with that, it needs to evolve to have a meaningful subscription model as part of its business.”
AdVerse had a quick chat with Carey too and posed the question, when exactly does Hulu start charging then? Carey, who says he’s only been to one Hulu board meeting since arriving at News Corp., suggests there is still no timeline but supposes it’s at least in 2010. Carey says that while throwing up a pay-wall around all content is not the answer, it doesn’t mean there wont be fees for some specially-created content and TV previews
So… this is really no different than what was said a few months back, when News Corp’s Jon Miller started saying that Hulu should add subscription offerings. It’s the official News Corp. position, ever since Rupert Murdoch suddenly flip flopped and decided free content online is evil. All News Corp. execs have now been making noise about trying to charge for content.
But… Carey is just one board member, not Hulu management, and has only been to one board meeting — this is hardly an official announcement. He even admits that a paywall is not the answer. This isn’t anything official from Hulu. So, before we freak out about how dumb this is, let’s wait and see what Hulu actually does. As we’ve been seeing the ad rates on Hulu can be quite impressive, and the site itself is still somewhat new. So, yes, giving up on free content would be dumb, and would just drive people back to file sharing for TV shows. But until we see what Hulu is actually planning, the claim that Hulu is giving up on free content simply isn’t supported by what’s been said.