Hulu Puts Gun To Own Head: May Require Users To Show Proof Of Pay TV Subscription

from the preserving-the-problem-to-which-they-are-the-solution dept

We’ve discussed in the past how Hulu’s owners — the major Hollywood/TV studios — absolutely hate that Hulu is actually useful and convincing people to watch TV online. Because of that, they’ve been trying to destroy Hulu. Hulu’s management — which mostly seems to understand the internet — tried to get out from under this potentially paralyzing ownership structure, but the studios (stupidly) telegraphed the message that they would block Hulu from getting their content, meaning that no one wanted to pay the ridiculous asking price.

Well, now it appears that phase one of making Hulu absolutely useless to people who might cut the cord from pay TV is going into effect, with plans to join the networks silly “TV Everywhere” setup and require users to have a pay TV subscription in order to access parts of the service. Hulu’s main (non-studio) investor, Providence Equity Partners, sold its shares last week because it heard about this plan and knew it was suicidal.

In no rational world would Hulu move in this direction on its own. Hulu’s key selling point is that it’s the go-to source for cord cutters, helping it build up a very large audience. Taking that crowd out of its audience makes it close to useless. While the studios love this because they make so much money from pay TV companies, it’s incredibly short-sighted in the long run. It’s pure protectionism of legacy revenues, done by sacrificing the one truly innovative platform they’ve invested in.

Meanwhile, along the same lines, the THResq story that we link to above also notes that NBC Universal will, once again, seek to marginalize its own online coverage of the Olympics, by also requiring proof of a pay TV service. Way to raise a giant middle finger to all the cord cutters out there — guaranteeing that they seek out alternative streams for which NBC Universal gets no money.

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: hulu, providence equity partners

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Hulu Puts Gun To Own Head: May Require Users To Show Proof Of Pay TV Subscription”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
arcan (profile) says:

this title is misleading. Hulu is not putting a gun to it’s own head. Hollywood is strapping a nuke to it’s head. then they are going to complain that piracy threw a rock at the nuke and caused it to go off. this will lead to them attempting to force R&D for a time machine through congress to go back in time and pass all the laws they want 50 years ago. this will lead to an alternate time loop which the gods of the internet will deem heresy and destroy everything. which will lead to hollywood blaming the destruction of the universe on pirates and tom cruise. not sure why tom cruise. but they are going to find some way to blame it on tom cruise.

Starman says:


I just canceled my Plus subscription last night after having had it on hold for over 6 months.

Hands down between Hulu and Netflix I watch Netflix 100 times more than I do Hulu. I would not miss the site if it went offline today.

All I have to say to Hollywood is evolve or die. And they are not at the top of the food chain either. Should walk softly in a world of predators who are much more capable than they are.

Gonna laugh my ass off when we as a nation finally prohibit special interest money in our elective political system. It is coming sooner than you think!

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

As a Cable Cutter...

As a lifelong cable cutter, If the networks take Hulu away from me, I won’t be suddenly subscribing to cable to satellite. I will simply stop watching the shows that I watched on Hulu. So long Eureka. So long Psych. So long White Collar (not that I could watch you consistently with your insane 1 episode available at a time 3 months after airing).

This will only mean less traffic to Hulu and less money to networks.

When the latest seasons of these shows are available on Netflix, I will watch them there. That is if they don’t kill of Netflix before then first.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

NBC Universal will, once again, seek to marginalize its own online coverage of the Olympics

I think that Google should bid on “broadcasting” the Olympics. They could stream all the events in real time, plus allow you to watch any event after it occurred when it’s convenient for you.

Unlike broadcast TV, Google would only have to care about how many people watched, and not how many people watched at the same time.

Rikuo (profile) says:

These TV networks…why is it that they seem to be the ONLY industry that actively demonstrates that they DON’T want to give what the customers want? Here we have tens of thousands of people who have cut the cord (or in my case, never had a cord in the first place), who want to watch shows legally downloaded from the Internet…and told NO!
Newsflash…the market will always get what it wants. Now, if you’re smart, you’ll deliver to them what they want and figure out a way to profit from it. Actively denying customers what they demand is the quickest way to kill your business. What, don’t tell me you believe that these cord cutters will get the cord back once they hear of Hulu’s death? They won’t. I won’t. I won’t get a cord. I don’t want one. If you don’t provide to me, I’ll get it elsewhere. After all, its not my responsbility to make sure you get paid.

Drak says:

I used to download a lot of tv shows when I was in college because I had fast internet and no cable. It wasn’t bad, you download about 25 RAR files along with a few PAR files to fill in the missing gaps and bam, you have a show. I no longer do that because Netflix and Hulu have made it easier to just pony up the dough and watch it through my streaming blu-ray player.

Over time it seems the commercials have become even more intrusive from Hulu, and of course when the video stream messes up you get to watch the commercial over again. To be fair I can’t say that it’s Hulu’s fault or the box’s manufacturer.

If they go a step further and continue to limit the few shows I find interesting on Hulu then I’ll just be forced to go back to the way I used to do things. Not because of the cost (I’d pay double for Hulu if I could get more shows and no commercials btw), but rather because it’ll become simpler for me to go back to my RAR/PAR file setup.

If you suddenly charge 2-3-400% more for less quality expect to have no sales.

The sad part is that the ONLY part of the equation that any studios seem to get is that people want to watch their product. After that fact is recognized they then go the route of a dyslexic ferret in a badger hole. Go figgure.

Anonymous Coward says:


I guess the shills don’t realize how many places are doing just that. It’s weird, I’ve never said this before, but I sometimes spend my evening’s worth of TV-watching only watching Youtube things I subscribe to….or various Escapist videos and the like.

Sure, I still watch a decent amount of TV shows, but the number is MUCH smaller than a few years ago and is only shrinking.

Anonymous Coward says:


“In fact, the move by Hulu toward the new model ? called authentication because viewers would have to log in with their cable or satellite TV account number ? was behind the move last week by Providence Equity Partners to cash out of Hulu after five years, these sources said.”

According to the NY Post article Mike linked, so no, he’s not making stuff up.

A Guy (profile) says:

Hulu has been going this direction for years. I have cable, but I won’t be going to the trouble of entering any information into hulu.

I also wonder how this is even legally feasible. Do cable companies give information about all their subscribers info to Hulu? Is it even legal if they do? I seem to remember something about information sharing by cable companies being illegal under one of the cable acts.

Well, if these studios want to put another nail in their own coffin, let them. There are plenty of other entertainment options out there.

Peter says:


So when you have to pay for something that someone else “made” you get upset? Do they over charge, maybe. But if you don?t like it get out of your hole & do something more physically or mentally stimulating. We as a society watch entirely too much TV anyway. I am in the business & know how demotivating TV is. Quit complaining because they would like you to pay for something you want.

terry says:

Gradually Becoming Irrelevant

Hollywood, and all of the big old time gatekeepers of entertainment are gradually becoming irrelevant. Whether they like it or not people are more and more turning to the content online by independent producers. For example my two favorite programs are on Jupiter Broadcasting and they are my favorite because the similar shows broadcast by satellite slant the entire programs to favor many big parters and advertisers. While there still seems to be a little of that with the small online network, there clearly is much less and everything in the programs come across as more genuine.

Brent Ashley (profile) says:

Free to err

It’s natural selection; leave them to them kill themselves if that’s what they want to do. The sooner the better.

I just put an antenna on my roof that gets over 20 HD channels, installed MythBuntu on an old PC, and dropped my cable tv completely. By scheduling recordings from the air, I’ll have more than enough to watch whenever I want without paying any of them any money and they’ll have to live off their advertising like in the bad old days. Oh yeah, and I can skip commercials.

Luckily for now what I’m doing is not only perfectly legal but they are mandated to provide it. Keep your eyes on the small print in those obscure bills from the back benches – we’re sure to see some concerted effort to kill free-to-air broadcast.

Anonymous Coward says:


All I have to say to Hollywood is evolve or die.

Now be fair. They try, they really do try to die.

But the piles of still-warm decaying dead bodies from the former “music industry” (look it up in your history books) keep tripping the them up during their life-end march to their final resting places in Davy Jones’ Locker.

But don’t despair. In the not-too-distant future, they’ll be exhibited in museums along with other ancient fossils and relics of primitive peoples’ abject refusal to follow the heavily sing-posted and already constructed “yellow-brick-road” to the future.

In their primitive brains, the only choice they have the “vision” to imagine is “commit suicide or die”. Their actions over the years have clearly demonstrated that.

And I couldn’t give a flying fuck.

Anonymous Coward says:

As a Cable Cutter...

Ya know, I have been off cable for 5 years now. I dumped everything into having the fastest Internet connection, mostly for gaming.

Only recently did I start poking around Hulu, and went ahead and added the plus plan, along with my Netflix I have had for years. (It’s the end of the expansion for WoW, so I’m getting bored).

I have watched more ‘broadcast TV’ than I have at all in the last 5 years.

All this did was remind me how much the MAFIAA piss me off, and I will be cutting Hulu immediately.

Anonymous Coward says:

Will miss it

I will miss it if it goes. There’s a couple shows there I follow that aren’t on Netflix. If they kick me off like this though, I know of an alternative service I can use. It’s called the “VPN torrent” network, and it’s got every show, with only occasional porn ads. You can even put your own shows up on it!

lsilvest (profile) says:

Not as ridiculous as Fox

I recently went to the Fox Website having missed an episode of House and now to watch online you have to have a provider account. WTF is this for an OTA broadcaster? You’d think they would be happy to get in a few commercials for a show that was broadcast free to begin with. In fact, I’ve watched more commercials streaming online than I’ll ever watch since I record everything. These network clowns get dumber every day.

Lord Binky says:


Business schools are in shock by media companie’s refusal to follow basic business strategy to maintain their empires over time. Many media companie’s strategy would cause them to fail a intro to remedial Econ101. The reaction to change is not a business response, but a poor human performance response of people who got used to not haveing to try and learn, fighting with all their might not to try and learn.

Anonymous Coward says:

Is this strictly for free users on the Hulu website, or is Hulu Plus included in this lame brain idea? I don’t see Plus mentioned anywhere in either regard. I’d expect Hulu Plus subscribers to cancel faster than Netflix subscribers did last year after their price increase if they’re dumb enough to include that.

Besides, with all the cable/sat VOD services & DVRs, why would cable subscribers even care about Hulu? I’d go make a one-time only antenna purchase before I go back to cable.

Brian says:

Looks like it's for free users only

I’m reading on a couple locations, that this applies only to free users, and not to Hulu Plus users. This is more a push to get people to pay for the Hulu plus services, which actually isn’t that bad of a business move at all. Even IF you cut the cord on TV, paying for Hulu’s service isn’t that bad of thing, based on current pricing. Now if they use this to increase costs exponentially, that’s when you’ll see me have an issue with this.

To be honest, I don’t mind paying the $8 per month for essentially a DVR type service like this.

If I didn’t, I would buy a Digital Antennae and get the content for free, and set up my computer that’s hooked up to my TV as a DVR anyway….this is just more convenient, and I’m not opposed to paying for convenience. Isn’t that the point??

teka (profile) says:


It would be foolish and possibly actionable for a business partner/stakeholder to publicly announce “Hey, these guys are idiots and fools. Please help us unload the crap stake we have to let us salvage something from this sinking ship of failure.”

Using the restraint of an investment group who wants to continue to make money as the sign that this is a great idea would be silly.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...