One of the biggest complaints when the Apple iPad was announced was its lack of support for Flash. Almost immediately people lamented the fact that this meant that popular video site Hulu wouldn’t work on the device, which it seemed almost a natural app for due to its screen size. Well, not all hope may be lost quite yet, and as an added bonus, it might also mean that Hulu could be coming to your TV at the same time.
While Hulu has been quite popular online, getting it to your television has taken some workarounds that counted on your computer being near your set, and then running cables to hook them together. This has been a definite downfall for Hulu as mainstream America wants to continue to watch programming in a traditional manner, no matter what the delivery method is.
There’s a definite reason why Netflix has been slapping its Watch Instantly client into every device conceivable that will facilitate the content delivery to your television, and it isn’t just because they can. The more methods you have for delivery, the higher the probability that a person will subscribe to the service.
So that brings us to one of the possible ways Hulu is looking at making money. According to MediaMemo, Hulu is exploring a “three screen” strategy to rolling out a premium service. The company — which is co-owned by the television networks ABC, Fox and NBC — has been trying to come up with a hook that would motivate people to pay for the service, but nothing has been really grabbing them as having strong potential. However, all of that may have changed with the iPad.
The idea behind the three screen system would be that you could watch via the Web browser for free, but if you wanted to watch on a mobile device or on your television, you would have to be a premium subscriber. It seems like a reasonable enough idea, but the biggest hurdle right now will be getting the software to the television. Following the Netflix method, the DVD rental company has placed its software in television sets, game consoles, Blu-ray players, set top boxes and more. Even if you aren’t a subscriber, it is quite probable that you have a device with the software in it, just waiting for you to activate it.
This is what Hulu is going to have to do if it wants this idea to take off. It is going to have to hand out the software like candy to manufacturers of every possible device out there, and then offer an attractive pricing structure to lure people into actually using it. The problem is that unlike Netflix, this is not the primary business of the broadcast networks, and hence they tend to forget what sort of pricing actually appeals to your average customer. Netflix is trying as hard as possible to make streaming video its primary business due to the much lower costs involved, so that is a lot to motivate to place the monthly fee at a consumer-friendly level. If the networks can follow this pricing model, then they have a chance of success; over price it and they will find themselves with another failure.
Are you ready to pay for Hulu access on your television and iPad?