Looks like Hulu’s free ride is over

dogchasingtail Just when you thought the content providers were started to get media distribution in an internet world, they’ve gone ahead and proven that they still have no idea what they’re doing.  Yesterday at the B&C OnScreen Summit, News Corp’s Chase Carey alluded to the fact that Hulu is going to start charging viewers to watch their content starting in 2010.

Said Carey (via Broadcasting Cable):

“I think a free model is a very difficult way to capture the value of our content. I think what we need to do is deliver that content to consumers in a way where they will appreciate the value,” Carey said. “Hulu concurs with that, it needs to evolve to have a meaningful subscription model as part of its business.”

So never mind the consumers that visit the site to check out a new show – and use Hulu to catch up and go back to consuming their viewing through their traditional means.  Never mind that Hulu does show pre-roll and regularly-placed ads that (anecdotally) get more of the viewers attention than a DVR’d show or a commercially-scheduled bathroom break when viewing on regular TV.

Never mind all that, I guess we don’t appreciate the value, as if it’s some great honor to view all of their shows.  Look, last time I checked, we were the ones doing you a favor by watching your shows and viewing your ads.  If you really want to generate more revenue, try throwing some more ads during the show and see if people will cry foul.  My prediction is people would much rather take in an extra ad or two rather than fish for their credit card to watch last week’s episode of Family Guy.

I may be off base here, but I don’t really know anyone who uses Hulu as their primary viewing experience.  Hulu is handy if you’re looking to catch up on back episodes, or something you missed, as well as viewing a classic clip from a show.  I’m always going to prefer sitting on my comfortable couch and watching the flat screen over hunching over in my chair to look at my small laptop.  If Hulu were to evolve to stream straight to TV’s (either through X-box or other set-top players) then maybe they could get away with charging.  However, if Hulu starts charging with what they have today then they’re only going to regress their digital strategy further back.

Oh but don’t fear, Carey said they won’t put all of their content behind the walled garden:

Carey says that while throwing up a pay-wall around all content is not the answer, it doesn’t mean there wont be fees for some specially-created content and TV previews. Windows are just around the corner. [Broadcasting Cable]

Oh so you mean the crap I wouldn’t dream of wasting my time with will still be free?  Sign me up!  Thanks for continuing to prove that no matter how much the public connects the dots for you, you still manage to to completely screw up the picture.