Hulu Finally Announces Subscription Plans: $10/Month To Still Get Advertisements

from the well-that's-comforting dept

As has been predicted and expected for quite some time, Hulu has finally announced its subscription plans. Let's start with the one thing they got right: unlike some newspaper paywalls and such, they're not technically putting the existing offerings behind this subscription wall. Technically, you can still use Hulu for free the same way you did in the past, but as I explain in a bit, this might not work out in practice. So what do you get for your $10 per month? Well, you get access to the latest full season of shows from ABC, NBC and Fox (co-owners of Hulu). Of course, this isn't exactly a benefit. It just means that, unlike currently, Hulu doesn't delete shows quite as quickly -- a point that had been annoying users of the site. What else do you get? Well, you still get the annoying pre-roll/mid-roll/post-roll commercials, so you're not paying to get rid of those. And... hmm... well, if you pay, Hulu is just slightly less obnoxious about trying to block you from accessing the content on a television (even with a perfectly legitimate setup).

That appears to be it. I'm trying to figure out who thought this was compelling. Basically, for $10/month, Hulu will be slightly less annoying to the average user by not deleting content during the season and maybe kinda sorta letting you access Hulu on your TV if you happen to use the "approved" equipment. Of course, you could also use a system that gets around Hulu's bizarre and pointless TV blocks just as easily, but we'll skip over that for now.

Looks like another lost opportunity. Hulu could have come up with real reasons to buy by actually adding value. Instead, it just focused on being slightly less annoying. Some might not see these as being all that different (doesn't it add value to be less annoying?). That's true, but there is a fundamental difference: anyone can be less annoying without getting people to pay for it. Any business should be striving to be less annoying all the time in their core product. When you set up your subscription service around "we'll be less annoying," you've now given yourself a perverse and dangerous set of incentives. You now have the incentive to be more annoying in your core product in a push to get people to sign up for the less annoying product. Effectively, it's nagware, which may work for some segment of the market, but is not about providing more positive value, but about minimizing negative value. That's not a growth strategy.

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    Jay (profile), 30 Jun 2010 @ 9:04am

    There's a few other choices than Hulu. As it stands, they could have been great and I like the very few ads that they had during a TV series. But I see no benefit to paying extra money to be able to watch a show that comes onto TV.

    What's particularly egregious is the entire belief that hey, I have to suffer through painstaking programming errors that stop me from watching TV from my laptop.

    I just go to another site that allows me to be able to do all of that without that extra hassle.

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