First, there was Hulu.com. Then Hulu.com begat Hulu Plus for $9.99. Then Hulu Plus issued forth a reduction to $7.99 last fall. And ever since the new, non-browser paid option was introduced, the masses cried, “Why are you charging us and still sticking in ads??”
And the question still stands, even in light of the fact that the company’s now considering an ad-free plan. The idea on the table would be to add this new service to the line-up, in addition to the pre-existing ones. In other words, the existing Hulu Plus (complete with ads and fees) would remain the same; it would simply be joined by a more expensive option.
I’m scratching my head at this. It’s good that Hulu’s interested in expanding its offerings, but if the Plus package remains at $8 per month, what would the company have to charge for a premium service? A lot, I’m guessing. (Especially since the networks probably hate this scenario to begin with.) Alternatively, a reasonable integration would be to bring down the price of Plus to $4 or $5 and charge the premium tier at maybe $10. Then I could see users accepting this model. Thing is, the company hasn’t even hinted at this as a possibility.
What’s sad is that there’s real opportunity for Hulu right now. Netflix just ticked off its userbase by splitting DVD and streaming into two separate services that, when added together, cost more than its previous combined offering. Having struck negotiations for more programming and better movie content, Hulu could’ve swooped in and tried to court these users aggressively. Instead, it looks like this opportunity could get squandered.
Well, maybe not for everyone.
In a related note, somewhere out in the far corner of the market, Blockbuster is actually showing a scrappy side by trying to win back customers. (Will wonders never cease?) If you thought the big yellow and blue monikered retailer was down and out for the count… well, so did I. But I guess going bankrupt and getting sold at auction has pumped it up: It’s now enticing people with a free 30-day trial of its DVD-mailing Total Access service and a “special rate” of some sort. This would have been kind of adorable, but sad, except for two things: Some people still prefer DVD discs, plus all the extras they include. And getting them from Blockbuster may now actually turn out to be faster and cheaper than getting them from Netflix.
What are your thoughts about this? Would you sign on for a new, pricier Hulu service that omits advertising, stick with Netflix, or consider a cheaper snail mail–based plan from Blockbuster?
[via BoyGenius Report]