Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Hulu Plus, Take Two: How’s $4.95 a Month?

Hulu is considering cutting the price of Hulu Plus, the subscription service it began testing in June, sources tell me. I’m told the video site is talking about slashing its $9.95 per-month fee in half, to $4.95.

Hulu Plus was supposed to be the video site’s strategy to generate a second revenue stream to complement the free, ad-supported site that launched in 2008.

The idea is that paying subscribers get access to a deeper catalog of TV shows and movies than what the free service offers, as well as the ability to watch Hulu on devices like Apple’s iPhone and iPad, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 game machine and Internet-connected TVs from Samsung and Sony.

But a price cut would indicate that consumers haven’t bought in to the pitch. That shouldn’t be a shock, considering the other video options that consumers have, and the limits that Hulu’s content providers have placed on the service.

At $8.99 a month, for instance, Netflix subscribers get access to a very deep catalog of movies and TV shows delivered on DVD, and a growing number of titles delivered to their PCs, phones or iPads.

But Hulu Plus is limited primarily to current  broadcast shows from its three owners–Disney’s ABC, GE’s NBC and News Corp.’s Fox–as well as other shows that have stopped running on TV. (News Corp. also owns Dow Jones, which owns this site.)

And tensions between programmers and cable providers mean that Hulu won’t give subscribers access to current cable shows from those same partners–even though some of them are (barely) available on conventional Hulu. “It’s a broadcast-focused service,” in the words of CEO Jason Kilar.

Hulu declined to comment about the service, which is still officially in beta mode.