Hulu has announced the launch of its Hulu Plus subscription service, shaving $2 off from the preview price at $9.99 showcased in July.
The sweetened offer makes the service available at $7.99 per month and also features on Roku. Hulu also listed the devices on which Hulu Plus would be coming which includes Vizio, LG Electronics, and Panasonic Blu-ray players and HDTVs; TiVo Premiere DVRs; the Xbox 360; and Western Digital's WD TV Live Hub Media Center and WD TV Live Plus Network Media Player.
Hulu app updates will also be arriving on Samsung, PlayStation 3, iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.
Hulu has been facing stiff competition from Netflix which has also been testing $7.99 and $8.99 streaming plans in US.
Hulu, a company founded in 2007, is owned by some of the largest media houses in US which includes names such as NBC Universal, Fox and Walt Disney. And it offers TV shows like Glee, Modern Family, The Office, Hose, 30 Rock and Grey's Anatomy. It offers both current and past seasons of these TV shows.
On-demand video streaming segment is on steroids with the recent launch of Google TV, Apple TV, Boxee, Netflix and Roku. The onslaught of these devices that allow streaming of content from web, smartphones, hard-drives etc. is posing a threat to traditional TV and cable operators.
Also major broadcasters are seeing a dent in their wallets as prime-time ad revenue is on the decline with the emergence of on-demand video streaming. In such a scenario Hulu, backed by major broadcasters, appears to be a syndicated effort by broadcasters to defend their territory. And thus Hulu offers placing of ads before, after and during the videos, though it offers 25 percent of the load of ads on TV, which still makes viewing of videos on Hulu full of ad clutter.
The baggage of being a syndicate is also reflected in its limited supply of episodes whereby it only shows 4 or 5 episodes of recent shows to honor time windows through which broadcasters reap ad revenues.
Hulu's march could be reined in by its broadcasters who in an attempt to shield revenues will never allow Hulu to evolve into a complete ads-based free content provider.
Netflix's billion dollar acquisition of Epix, a pay TV service owned by Viacom, Lionsgate and MGM, is reflective of growing partnerships between digital content providers and studios and broadcasters. Google and Apple have also been building ties with key broadcasters. Thus with such platforms available Hulu can be on the losing front with its key partners moving to these platforms.
Unlike Google that offers scale for advertisers, Hulu cannot expand its wings to gain scale as its supporting broadcasters revenue model is in conflict with Hulu's free nature. However, with these networks now in a position to offer their content on their own websites and being able to churn some revenue through companies like Netflix, Hulu may fast become a redundant option for its partners.