Hulu lowers monthly fee for Plus service to $8

Ben Patterson
November 17, 2010

If you weren't too keen about the idea of paying $10 a month to watch Hulu videos on your iPhone, iPad or PlayStation 3, how does $8 a month strike you?

Clearly hoping to attract more subscribers to its for-pay Plus service, which offers a greater selection of TV shows along with the ability to stream videos to selected phones, set-top boxes and game consoles, Hulu has dropped its monthly subscription fee to $7.99 a month.

Rumors began swirling late last month that Hulu was considering cutting the fee for Hulu Plus, which first launched back in June as an invite-only beta, by as much as half.

In a post on the official Hulu blog, CEO Jason Kilar announced a free week for anyone who wants to test-drive Hulu Plus. Those who have already joined will get a one-week credit, along with another credit for the $2 a month extra they've been paying during the initial Hulu Plus "preview" period—which is now over, meaning that anyone can join.

Kilar also promises two free weeks of Hulu Plus for anyone who refers a friend to the service, as well as a month of free service with the purchase of a Roku set-top box, or 11 weeks gratis if you buy a new Sony TV or Blu-ray deck with Bravia Internet connectivity.

Hulu has yet to announce exactly how many viewers have signed up for Hulu Plus, although Kilar writes in his blog post that Hulu is "highly encouraged by the response."

Dropping the monthly Hulu Plus subscription fee by 20 percent, though, says to me that the suits at Hulu (which counts ABC, Fox and NBC among its stakeholders) are hoping to attract more paying members than they were getting at $10 a month.

So, what will 8 bucks a month get you? More than 2,000 episodes from 120 seasons of TV shows that you can't get through Hulu's free Web portal, including full seasons of current shows like "Glee," "The Office," "House" and "Modern Family," as well as older series such as "The X-Files," "Roswell," "Ally McBeal," "Quantum Leap" and "Miami Vice."

Recent additions to the Hulu Plus lineup include full seasons of "Monk," "Psych" and "Battlestar Galactica," with every single episode of "Saturday Night Live" slated to arrive by the end of the year. (Netflix has also been boosting its selection of streaming TV episodes, by the way, and Hulu execs were said to be "fuming" after Netflix landed its own deal for day-after episodes of "Saturday Night Live.")

Besides gaining access to the deepening collection of TV shows, signing up with Hulu Plus gives you access to Hulu videos on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, as well as on Net-connected TVs and set-top boxes from Roku, Samsung, Sony, TiVo and Vizio.

The PlayStation 3 also got its own Hulu Plus app. The Xbox 360 is set to get Hulu Plus access early next year.

One of the biggest sticking points about Hulu Plus (besides the monthly price tag) is the fact that even paid subscribers can't skip the ads that pepper each TV episode.

At a recent conference, Kilar said that keeping the ads in Hulu's videos—even for paying customers—is "just the economics" of its current pricing structure. Presumably that means that offering ad-free videos would entail raising the monthly subscription fee.

So, would you sign up for Hulu Plus now that it's $8 a month rather than $10? How do you think Hulu Plus compares with Netflix and its catalog of streaming TV shows and movies?

— Ben Patterson is a technology writer for Yahoo! News.

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