That's A Tall Order

On Paying For Hulu

That's A Tall Order

Via Chicago Tribune:

One plan under consideration would allow users to view the five most recent episodes of TV shows for free, but require a subscription of $4.99 a month to watch older episodes. Hulu believes it will need at least 20 TV series, both current and those no longer on the air, to make such a pay service attractive to users. A firm pricing model could emerge within six months.

I’ve ranted and raved about this before, albeit with less thought and tact. There’s nothing that Hulu could do to make their services worth a monthly fee. Why should I pay for something I could get for free on television? They already ads, and last I checked that was enough. Google gets by on Ad revenue, so why can’t Hulu?

Well, naturally, the more I thought about it the more my views on this have changed. In fact, since I first heard about this shift to pay-for-content on Hulu, I’ve come to realize that there are certain things I would be willing to pay for. I already pay for Netflix to watch movies instantly online, so in theory I should be fine to pay for television that I watch.

And I am, but here’s a few things that I think Hulu could do to make it easier for me to hand over my money each month.

1) More shows

The first thing that would part me from my money is the addition of more shows. Currently, I can watch a lot of things on Hulu, but I can watch even MORE things on cable. And I don’t just mean more television shows from ABC or FOX, but more shows from Discovery, Food Network and other channels with quality content. I would love to see Good Eats, or Time Warp or Man Vs. Wild on Hulu to shake things up from my usual spy comedy, sci-fi, thriller, prime-time, ooey-gooey goodness.

2) More Episodes and Less Clips

I go to youtube for clips. They have better embedding, period. I can see having clips for some shows for free users, but if I am to pay any amount of money, I want full episodes where there are only clips. This is an issue of volume. Currently the episodes to clips ratio is skewed and I would say in a not-so-good way. I think, “Oh, wouldn’t it be nice to see what the Mythbusters are up to these days? Oh crap, it’s only a minute long clip. Bummer.” This isn’t to say that the idea of clips is a bad one. But they definitely seem like something that would be useful for “free” users.

3) Get Rid Of Delays

I will admit that I’m extremely inconsistent with my television viewing habits. There are some shows I will watch religiously when they air (insert Joss Whedon anything here), and there are some shows I build a backlog to before I watch them. For the shows I watch religiously, it pains me to find that they are on an eight day delay, and that the episode I’m currently watching on Hulu isn’t the most recent. It kind of feels like punishment that I wasn’t there to see the show air.

Case in point: House. I love the show. It’s my guilty pleasure, especially after it got good again in it’s sixth season. To know that I’m behind my peers who have normal 9-5 jobs who can get home to catch the show is kind of disheartening. Because I work the second shift, I miss EVERYTHING in the evening time slot. That being said, I would pay to be able to watch the latest episode of House that week, or even wait until the next day. If Hulu can reduce it’s streaming restrictions, consider my money gone.

4) Backlog

As I mentioned earlier, my television watching habits are inconsistent at best.┬áIt’s quite probable that in the course of a TV show’s run, I’ll be behind by at least 6 to 7 episodes. Some shows are the exception, naturally, but generally speaking, I build a backlog like nobody’s business. Currently, the deals between Hulu and the content providers vary. Some shows have full seasons, while others only keep the latest 5 episodes in the current season. If life or work gets in the way, like it often does, I’m simply out of luck. But if Hulu could offer a more robust backlog of episodes, I feel like more people would be more willing to part with their money. I know that this alone would convince me to switch to a paid subscription.

So..

Could these things ever happen? I’m not really sure. As of right now, it looks bleak. Why would content providers want to make consuming content easier and more cost-appropriate? Why should they have to? There are still enough people paying for their content the normal way that no change ever has to happen. Why change when there’s simply no demand?

I guess that’s still something that needs to be worked out.