The big names of the web all seem to reach a point at which they’re faced with the same question: Should we charge? Though readers and consumers are reluctant to pay for information and services that they could likely find elsewhere for free, some sites are confident that the reputation of their name makes it worth the fee. The New York Times and Variety Magazine are examples of such names, but it has yet to be determined whether or not a forced subscription will work in their favor.
The online television site Hulu recently announced a new plan for a subscription service on the site, Hulu Plus. Perhaps as a compromise, Hulu Plus will be one option that gives users access to more episodes on different platforms for $9.99 per month. New platforms include the iPhone, the iPad, and even some television sets. Soon, it will work on Xbox and Playstation. This unprecedented move puts us one step closer to a world where cable and satellite companies are obsolete. Episodes from channels like NBC, Fox, and ABC, which are free on the site now, will stay accessible to those without the Plus feature.
The subscription service is a reflection of Hulu’s need to find ways to increase profit. Under its current business model, the revenue comes from advertising. Yet since the site shares profits with so many content providers, they’re not making a “meaningful” amount from the site. In May, nearly 43 million unique visitors used the site and the video streams were a record 1.2 billion, which is triple the amount of the previous year. Hulu believes that these statistics show that there is an audience for more content and growth, and this service may be one way of delivering: The tagline for Hulu Plus is “More wherever. More whenever. Than ever.” What do you think?
Written by: Ashley Ellis