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Hulu Plus goes out of Beta and into trouble with its first price cut

After a month or so of debating over the price of Hulu Plus, the business came out of beta with a price tag of $8 a month

By PETER WHITE

Published: 18 November, 2010

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After a month or so of debating over the price of Hulu Plus, the business came out of beta with a price tag of $8 a month. It was originally set at $10 a month and speculation has been rife recently that it would fall to $5 a month.

The service says that it offers 720p versions of 45 current TV series, past series for 90 shows and further shows from free to air broadcast networks.

The fact that Netflix is picking up all the online plaudits is worrying for Hulu and the Netflix current pricing of $9 includes online DVD rentals limited to a single DVD at a time. Netflix has launched an online only service in Canada and is understood to be readying a similar launch in the US, priced a dollar lower at $8.

Hulu CEO Jason Kilar gave no official reason for the price cut which he announced in a blog on the site, but all the speculation is about there being hardly any demand. There is perhaps some concern that the original Hulu already has too many free shows. Current subscribers are to get a $2 credit. The ability to see Hulu Plus on the PS3, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch will be out this week, with downloads for each platform, as well as one for the Samsung app store.

“Hulu Plus is now available on devices that have an installed base of over 50 million,” said Kilar. “Today, Hulu Plus launches on Roku. All PlayStation 3 owners with a PlayStation Network account, which is free, can download the Hulu Plus application. In the months to come, Hulu Plus will be coming to Internet-connected 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, with many more mobile phones, tablets, set-top boxes, and Internet-connected devices to be announced.”

So it can’t be the device availability that’s at the heart of the price cut and some credit also may go to pay TV rivals ivi and Sezmi, which have come in with services at lower prices than Hulu Plus and perhaps with better content.

New Hulu Plus subscribers will get a week free, and subscribers who refer a friend will get two weeks free, as will the friend and those who purchase a Sony Bravia TV or Blu-ray player will get 11 weeks free. Anyone buying the Roku box will get a month of free service.

People are universally saying that the biggest rival to Hulu is Netflix, but the content is very different, with Netflix being almost made up entirely of films with some TV series, and Hulu being the other way around. These two should go in for a co-marketing or cross selling agreement instead of being perceived as being mortal enemies, because with both of them, you could cut the cord, whereas with one of them only, it’s unlikely that you can get enough TV online.

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