Hulu Plus, the premium service from the video site owned by ABC, NBC, and CBS, is weighing a 50% price cut, according to All Things Digital. The service would presumably remain the same, but cost only $4.95 per month instead of the current $9.95.
Raise your hand if this is surprising. Go ahead… I'll wait.
No hands? That's what I thought. Back in April, when I wrote about the announcement of Hulu Plus, there was plenty of skepticism in my tone. At the time, I was particularly concerned about them putting content behind a pay-wall while evidence from comScore suggested Hulu was only serving up half as many ads as viewers were willing to endure. It seemed premature to start charging users when there might still be room for increased revenue from advertising.
The service has also faced criticism in the form of comparisons to Netflix—which has a far deeper catalog of movies and televisions shows, as well as multiple delivery options for users. Compare what you get for your 10 bucks at Hulu to what the same amount buys at Netflix, and you'll realize that somebody's price is a bit too high.
So this possible new price cut—and really, at 50%, it's more of a "slash" than a cut—is almost certainly an indication that sales of Hulu Plus subscriptions haven't gone as well as the company had hoped.
The recent controversy surrounding their decision to block the new Google TV devices from accessing Hulu content isn't helping. It seems a little silly to me that I can run an HDMI or VGA cable from my laptop and watch Hulu's programming on my television that way without any problem, but I'm blocked if I use a Logitech Revue instead of my laptop. Isn't it a good thing for Hulu if more people are interested in watching online TV episodes now that they can do so on a large-screen home TV?
At any rate, the issue is a tricky one for Hulu—who sees Google TV as a threat and a competitor, perhaps with good reason—and a price cut might be just what the doctor ordered to help keep loyal fans from staging a mutiny. "Pay no attention to that press about us blocking Google devices, look over here at how drastically we're slashing prices!”
This is all still a rumor, by the way, though All Things Digital seems to trust their sources on the matter. So… what do you say? Does Hulu Plus at $4.95 sound any more attractive to you than it did at $9.95? Anyone out there already a Hulu Plus member that can weigh in on how valuable the service is?
A price cut like this is going to make a splash—if it's real—and should result in some renewed interest from curious users. But Netflix still seems like the superior service in terms of flexibility and depth of content, and I'm not sure a $5 savings per month is going to change that.