Hulu Plus Premium Service Exits Beta, Drops Price
For $7.99 per month, $2 less than during the trial preview, subscribers can access current season TV shows, such as "Glee," "Modern Family" and "30 Rock."
Hulu has launched its premium service out of beta, making the full line-up of current season TV shows available to subscribers for a monthly fee.
In making Hulu Plus generally available, the company, which streams TV shows from the Internet, has upped its competition with other pay TV services as a provider of basic programming. Subscribers of the premium service would pay $7.99 to watch such hits as "Glee," "Modern Family," "The Office," "House," "30 Rock," "Grey's Anatomy" and other shows.
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During the preview period, which started in June, people paid $9.99 a month to test the service. Current subscribes who move over to the final service will be credited in the next billing cycle for the additional $2 a month they paid during the trial period.
Hulu Plus will be available on Internet-connected TVs and additional mobile phones and tablet-style computers. The service is currently available through Sony's PlayStation 3, Samsung smartphones and the Galaxy Tab, and Apple's iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Updated apps for the devices are expected over the next week, Hulu says.
In the months ahead, Hulu Plus will be made available on Vizio, LG Electronics and Panasonic Blu-ray video players and high-definition TVs; TiVo Premiere digital video recorders, Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Western Digital's WD TV Live Hub Media Center. Support will also be announced in the future on individual mobile phones, tablets, set-top boxes and other Internet-connected devices.
Hulu, whose major stakeholders include NBC Universal, News Corp. and The Walt Disney Co., is not alone in adopting a strategy of everywhere access. Major TV service providers, such as Comcast and AT&T, are also making TV shows and movies available on subscribers' mobile devices. Depending on the level of their current service, subscribers could pay additional money for the mobile service.
Hulu Plus is the first subscription service to offer every episode of new shows from ABC, Fox and NBC. While the available content doesn't come close to the hundreds of channels available on other pay TV services, it could prove good enough for casual TV watchers, or as a complement to fans of particular shows who want to be able to access the programming while on the road.
Hulu plans to increase available content, which could continue to place pressure on other pay TV providers, such as AT&T and Verizon. "This is just one more step in the journey to reinvent TV," Jason Kilar, chief executive of Hulu, said about Hulu Plus in a statement.
Hulu is not the only company hoping to change TV. Netflix, which started as a DVD-by-mail rental service, has been beefing up its online TV service for its 15 million subscribers. The company in September signed a deal that expanded the amount of content it licenses from NBC Universal. Nevertheless, Netflix's TV offering is far behind Hulu's.
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