RIP Hulu – 2007-2012

Hulu was at one point the television industry’s big hurrah – the place where people could stream shows online. During the show there would still be commercials, but thanks to the internet the commercials would be personalized to you. This meant that you didn’t have to resort to going to (highly popular yet ultimately illegal) torrent sites just so you could get your fix on, say, The Daily Show.

However, it has been announced that Hulu is going to change.

That’s right.


Why all the spaces? OK. Get ready. Hulu is going to ask that you “authenticate” your Hulu experience by… go on, guess… that’s right! Already being a cable subscriber. So that means that you have to sign up for hundreds of channels that you wont watch for $70-$110 just so you can watch the handful of shows you like on Hulu. This. Makes. Zero. Sense.

Hulu, you had a wonderful thing going on there. Sure, it’s been hard to get people to wise up to streaming television, but give it time and it will happen. However, nobody is going spend $75 a month to have television at home just so they can watch the shows they want to watch on their computer. That’s just not how it works. People aren’t buying televisions anymore; more and more are watching on their computers, and this is how you treat your customers? Fat fucking chance anyone will bother to “authenticate” their account by purchasing cable. This is price gouging and it will force millions (approximately 31 million people used Hulu in March of this year) to download the shows.

Hulu’s decision is not entirely unlike HBOGO which has current HBO subscribers authenticate their premium cable account to use the streaming-HBO-anywhere service. However, even HBOGO is set to go to a small monthly fee – the $13 or so that one uses to pay for HBO anyway – to use their service. Because they’re not dumb and they know that more people would use the service if they cut the price from, oh, I don’t know, $75 to $110 a month for cable to $13 for just HBO. Hulu’s strategy is the exact opposite of that plan.

I’m not saying television should be free – far from it. I’d be happy to pay a flat fee for Hulu (which was their Hulu Plus business model); it makes sense that people should be paid for their work. However, the cable industry is trying to squeeze the last dime out of our pockets because they know that they are no longer relevant – nobody needs a cable box when they can just stream things on the internet now.

Internet video is the next explosion area (if it isn’t exploding already). At peak hours, Hulu’s main competitor Netflix accounts for a third of all internet traffic. Yes. Really. That’s a lot of people streaming video and paying $8 a month for it. Why Hulu can’t see that and run with it is beyond me. Hulu’s announcement to switch back to being attached to cable is completely backwards thinking and clearly the result of some old-boys in a boardroom somewhere wondering how to squeeze money out of people. It’s shallow, gross, and just awful. This is where free market capitalism gets us.