On Tuesday, streaming TV hub Hulu unveiled its much-anticipated subscription service, Hulu Plus. With Plus, the company will provide subscribers with full current seasons of top programming, as well as over 120 seasons (or 2,000 episodes) of library content, all in HD. Currently in preview mode, the service will cost $9.99 per month.
Hulu, owned by NBC Universal, News Corp. and Walt Disney Co. has tagged the new service with the grammatically cumbersome tagline, ‘More wherever. More whenever. Than ever.’ Indeed, the plans are to make the content available for a variety of platforms and consumer devices, with the Apple trinity of the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch being the first out of the gate. Select 2010 Samsung Blu-ray players, Blu-ray Home Theater systems, and TVs through Samsung Apps will also be able to access the content. ‘This is just the first step in our mission to bring you TV wherever you are,’ said Hulu CEO Jason Kilar in a blog posting announcing the service. ‘We are already hard at work on porting Hulu Plus to other devices and platforms, with PlayStation 3 coming soon. But that’s a story for another day.’
The bulk of programming on Hulu Plus, as with the company’s free service, comes from the U.S. broadcasters of its parent companies – NBC, ABC and Fox – and will be ad-supported. Nissan and Bud Light are the first advertisers signing up to take part in the preview launch. Meanwhile, CBS, the only major broadcast net in the U.S. that hasn’t made content available via Hulu, hasn’t commented on if or when it would offer programming via Hulu Plus.
Those in the U.S. wishing to check out the service once it begins its previews next month will have to request invitations via http://www.hulu.com/plus. Invites will also be made available to random ‘fans’ of Hulu that are part of the company’s social media base through Twitter and Facebook. Also, U.S. consumers without invites can still check out the new service through a free Hulu Plus application for the iPad, iPhone 3GS and 4, and third-generation iPod Touch that will offer a limited selection of free episodes and clips.
Hulu’s move comes as the multi-screen on demand movement picks up steam in the U.S. Netflix reported 14 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2010, 98% of which were paid subs. Meanwhile, Time Warner and Comcast are forging ahead with their TV Everywhere initiative, which allows cable subscribers to access the content they already pay for on TV via multiple screens.
Unscripted series being offered up through the new service include ABC’s Supernanny, Find My Family and Dancing With the Stars and NBC’s The Biggest Loser and Minute to Win It.