News Corp., one of the co-owners of the site, has confirmed Thursday the rumor that it intends to start charging fees at some point.
Chase Carey, News Corp.'s deputy chairman, suggested in comments he made at the OnScreen Media Summit that it's just a matter of time before Hulu, the video service founded by News Corp. and NBC Universal, launches a subscription service.
I think a free model is a very difficult way to capture the value of our content, Carey said, according to a report Broadcasting & Cable, which co-hosted the conference. I think what we need to do is deliver that content to consumers in a way where they will appreciate the value...Hulu concurs with (the notion) that it needs to evolve to have a meaningful subscription model as part of its business.
Carey, who has been to only one News Corp. board meeting since his recent arrival at the company, said he is uncertain of when Hulu would adopt this new pay model, but it may be as early as next year.
The popular online streaming video service offers TV shows and movies for free which are supported by paid commercials that can't be skipped. Hulu began in part as an alternative to Apple's iTunes when NBC broke with Apple over a disagreement on pricing for TV shows on iTunes.
Carey's comments follow similar statements made by other News Corp. decision makers, including Rupert Murdoch, the company's chairman. Murdoch has previously talked about charging for content at the online units of many of his media properties, including The Wall Street Journal.
Along NBC Universal and Fox parent News Corp, Hulu is owned by Disney, whose executives haven't weighed in on the site's direction publicly.