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This article was published on April 22, 2010

5 Things Hulu Plus Needs Before It Gets My Money

5 Things Hulu Plus Needs Before It Gets My Money
Alex Wilhelm
Story by

Alex Wilhelm

Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]

As you no doubt know by now, Hulu will soon begin testing ‘Hulu Plus,’ a paid version of their popular website to stream television shows online.

Hulu Plus is to cost some $9.95 monthly, and for that rate will provide extra features to the Hulu user. What do they get? The main draw appears to be back episodes. As it stands now, only the most recent five episodes of any show are on Hulu for streaming.

Hulu Plus would change that. If you pay, you get a more ‘comprehensive selection’ of content for any specific show. What else? Past back episodes, paying users can expect other extended content. Is that enough to convince users to pay? We think not. After the jump, we’ll get into what we think Hulu Plus needs to add before we will pay for it.

No Delay From Broadcast To Internet

If we are to pay Hulu ten dollars a month, we don’t want to be treated as second class viewers. I’m paying for the content, I should be able to see it when it comes out.

There is a compromise. If networks refuse synchronous release with television, Hulu could strike a deal that right after a show hits the air, it shows up on the service. The one to seven day lag for shows is not acceptable if I am paying.

More Content

This is not a reference to the inclusion of back episodes, which we will touch on in a minute. No, Hulu needs more total content from a larger number of networks to make it worth my money

Now with shows like The Daily Show off Hulu, I have a lowered desire to pay for Hulu Plus. If their premium service is to be, well premium, it needs to provide large catalog of shows. People do not want to have one foot in the premium Hulu camp, and another in The Pirate Bay when Hulu fails them.

It will be easier, we think, for Hulu to coax back old partners, and attract new ones when the money tap is turned on, or is at least promised. Every new show Hulu brings on is another reason to pay. As it stands now, however, that cow is just too skinny.

No Ads Whatsoever

And we mean it. No ads, period, on the whole site if we pay. At $10 a month, Hulu will be one of the more expensive things that I would be paying for online. At over $100 a year I do have some demands and standards.

Lacking in the leaked information on Hulu Plus was indication of how ad-free the paid version would be. Ominous in the LA Times report was this gem “Ultimately, Hulu is expected to adopt the same commercial loads as network television.” Like hell, my dear.

Sure, on Network people deal with ads, it’s just life. But they have TiVo and we have torrents, so a compromise has to be reached. Hulu needs to understand that what they are trying to charge for online, can be procured for free online, in little time. TiVo recorders can skip ads, but you cannot in Hulu, creating a serious distinction.

We have all come to expect one thing in services we pay for: no ads. Hulu needs to play by that rule.

Higher Quality Streams

Hulu needs to offer better streams to paying users. A good number of us can stream YouTube at 1080p, so why not Hulu? Bandwidth cost is not a problem, we would be paying for it.

If 1080p is too much to ask for at first, at least 720p should be included.

All Back Episodes, Not A “Comprehensive Selection”

We internet users are noted for being both cheap and demanding, and the generalization is neither incorrect or unfair. If we are being asked to pay for more content, we expect all the content to be there.

Nothing could be more annoying in theory than paying for Hulu, trying to go see that one episode that you loved from Season Two, and alas, Hulu decided to not put that one online. Back episodes means a full library of all of them, not a selection.

Is that what comprehensive selection means? Comprehensive sounds like it, but selection does not. Make it plain Hulu.

People Are Willing To Pay, But Only For A Useful Product

From what we know now, Hulu Plus seems like a half-baked idea, an attempt to bring in revenue to further solidify Hulu’s future. Hulu has an amazing chance to really change the game, and appears to be blowing it.

Hulu Plus could convert a large number of people who torrent, or otherwise stream content illegally to start paying for it. If the product is fairly priced ($10 a month is a good starting number), and gives them oodles of content, they just might.

What is the number one complaint with Netflix streaming? Lack of content. Netflix, however, tacked streaming onto their other plans, so it’s a hard comparison to make. Hulu is just trying to sell the stream, and thus needs to dodge that trap.

The equation is simple: provide a simple, flexible, fairly priced, content rich portal for streaming content that updates as the television season moves along. That will turn a profit. Who wants to bet that Hulu Plus only has half of that?