Hulu Plus has fans in high places.
Folks pay $9.99 a month to watch a deeper selection of digital video than what is currently available in the free Hulu service. Hulu Plus also offers high-def streams and is available through a wider variety of devices.
Hulu is the Web-savvy initiative bankrolled by News Corp. (NYSE: NWS ) , Disney (NYSE: DIS ) , and General Electric's (NYSE: GE ) majority-owned (for now) NBC Universal. It has been a refreshing surprise for big media, and is now second only to Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) YouTube in terms of drawing an audience for online video.
However, Hulu Plus still has an uphill battle. Most couch potatoes will be perfectly fine with the free ad-supported offerings. It's also competing against high-end streaming services -- including Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) and Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX ) HBO Go -- that are made available to traditional subscribers at no additional cost.
This doesn't mean that the Hulu consortium is wrong to broker these types of deals. When Netflix began offering streaming on PCs in 2007, it didn't seem like more than a niche offering. Netflix began brokering deal after deal to make it easier for consumers to hit up its digital catalog from their living rooms and now 9 million of its 15 million subscribers are taking Netflix up on its Web-served flicks.
This doesn't tackle the price point, which is going to be a deal-breaker. It's not even realistic for Hulu to partner with TiVo or even Netflix to offer the service as part of those subscription packages. As long as consumers see Hulu Plus as an additional cost, it can start streaming on your bedroom ceiling and you still wouldn't be likely to pay up.
Expanding its reach is good, but dramatically lowering its subscription prices or drumming up a different model would be better strategies.
Would you pay up for Hulu Plus? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.