Hulu, the privately owned internet company that provides free, ad-supported television archives, is considering becoming the first web-based cable operator.

The company already solicits paid subscriptions for its Hulu Plus service, which provides users access to the entire archives of some of television’s most popular shows, such as Fox’s “Family Guy” and NBC's 30 Rock but offers select episodes of the shows for free.

With this new service, Hulu would provide its subscribers with live television and video-on-demand bundles over the internet.

The idea comes as its owners, NBC Universal, News Corp. (NYSE: NWS) and Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS), are considering spinning off the company in an initial public offering that could garner $200 to $300 million.

Already, its owners are concerned that offering their most popular shows for free undermines their other business lines, such DVDs and original broadcasts and reruns. The new service would give the company an edge over competitors such as Netflix and Apple.