Ahhh, Hulu. That wonderful destination where I can re-acquaint myself with my favorite Justin-Timberlake-on-SNL moments, catch up on episodes of Greek, and search for those old Silver Spoons clips I remember so fondly. The two-year-old website is a joint venture between Walt Disney's (DIS) ABC Network, General Electric's (GE) NBC Universal division, and News Corp.'s (NWS) FOX Entertainment Group, and is partially funded by Providence Equity Partners.
But just as online news readers may soon be charged to access The New York Times online, we may have to open our wallets for certain corners of the Hulu universe (they will likely still let me watch Silver Spoons for free).
Reportedly, Hulu will start its for-pay model slowly, charging just for episodes of 30 Rock, House, and Modern Family. Now, these shows are on network television: NBC, FOX and ABC, respectively. In other words, these programs are free to watch anyway (assuming the presence of a television set), even for people who don't pay for cable service.
Another proposed plan would allow Hulu users to watch the five most recent episodes of a program but require a monthly subscription (at $4.99 a pop) to watch older episodes. Hulu executives recognize that in order to make subscriptions attractive, they would need to offer at least 20 TV series in their entirely. Five bucks per month is much cheaper than a cable bill, for people who want to get their fill of basic-cable fare (Mad Men! Damages!) over their laptops.
Would you pay 60 bucks a year for less-limited Hulu service? Do any of you out there watch "TV" exclusively on your computer? Give us a shout in the comments.
Beth works for The Options News Network (www.ONN.tv), which provides daily stock and options commentary. The above comments are not intended as trading advice.