5 ways to make Hulu worth paying for
In a recent story on Daily Finance, newly appointed CDO at News Corp, Jonathan Miller, was quote saying he thought it was logical for Hulu to have some content that's only available to paying subscribers. The Internet conjured up images of fire, brimstone and credit card fees, but this could certainly be a positive thing if it were to happen.
1. All-You-Can-Watch Pricing:
From a user standpoint, the one-price, no-limit model that Netflix has implemented is perfect. Microtransactions can be a real pain and Amazon already offers a stream-for-cash solution, even though their player is nowhere near as user-friendly. When offering that much content for a single price, the masses probably wouldn't mind if they had to keep some of the ads around to subsidize the cost. General consensus seems to be that their ads aren't all that intrusive in the first place, especially when you can play all of them up front and watch the rest commercial-free.
2. More content:
It's a no-brainer: The more people get for their money, the happier they will be. But what, exactly, does "more" mean in this case? Let's look at "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" as an example. At one point, every episode of the show was available for free, but now they're down to just five full shows. Bringing back the rest of the series would be a great start, but going even further would be better. Buying a series from Amazon or iTunes can be a let-down because you can't get the extras you would on a DVD. For Hulu to offer those, including commentaries, would be a big victory.
3. Get it on the go:
I can hear the IP lawyers salivating at the prospect of taking Hulu content and slapping it onto a mobile player, but there must be a way. Many of us are already watching content at the gym or on the train, but actually getting it onto that little screen can be tricky. Even those who know what they're doing aren't immune to a sound-syncing issue every now and then. Of course, DRM would need to be involved at first, but it has to start somewhere. Even if it means watching short commercials on your portable player, it's still better than staring at the back of the seat in front of you. Xbox 360 support would be nice, too. But that's another post all together.
4. Give us HD:
Even though it does nothing but lose them and Google money, Youtube does a surprisingly excellent job with its HD offering. But, since it would cost Hulu more to serve higher-quality video, we would be understanding if they needed to take in the extra money to pay for it. Of course, we would hope it would do a little better than Netflix player does at actually displaying something that could be passed off as an "HD" picture, but we're not expecting miracles.
5. Don't cripple the free service:
The Denis Leary and Alec Baldwin commercials are great, but it's free content that made Hulu the success that it is. Taking new episodes of TV shows off of the free site would lose them a lot of support and probably drive more users to the torrent sites. Keep the ads on the free site and let the paying customers watch them uninterrupted.
So, what are we left with in the end? A one-price subscription site that offers new and archived content in HD format that's also available on your portable player. That, to me, sounds like a service worth shelling out a few bucks a month for.