Hot on the heels of The Times‘ paywall announcement, Hulu gets on the making-people-pay-for-things bandwagon. Maybe. Or, as the Los Angeles Times summarizes, “‘Free’ May Soon Turn Into ‘Fee.'”
The video site has been rumored for a while to be considering a pay model, but today’s story has some new details. As with The Times metered model, Hulu would be trying to balance paid and free access:
One plan being considered would allow users to view the five most recent episodes of TV shows free but would require a subscription of $4.99 a month to watch older episodes. Hulu believes it will need at least 20 TV series — both current ones and those no longer on the air — to make such a pay service attractive to users. A firm pricing model could emerge within six months, the sources said.
But there’s more at stake than putting a price on old episodes of 30 Rock:
Analysts say Hulu may be preparing to deliver its video service through the array of Internet-connected TVs, game consoles and other devices that were on display at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
“The whole reason Hulu needs to consider a subscription model is that the long-term play for online video is not to computers; it’s to a collection of other devices — connected TVs, video game consoles,” said Forrester Research media analyst James McQuivey.
If The Times gave its way-advance notice in part to sniff out the intentions of fellow content providers, perhaps this bodes well.