Hulu adds 'Hulu Plus' premium service for smartphones and other gadgets
You can now use Hulu to catch up on your TV viewing on an iPad or iPhone -- but it will cost you, and you'll have to wait to tune in.
The popular TV-show site announced a new $9.99/month Hulu Plus service today that will offer access to more shows on more devices, including Apple's smartphone and tablet computer but also some Samsung HDTVs and Blu-ray players.
As that blog post by Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar notes, Hulu Plus won't do away with the site's relatively limited ads. But it will offer access to an entire season's worth of a show, not just the last few episodes, and the full runs of such shows as "The X-Files" and "Ally McBeal." (I trust you can guess which one I'd be more interested in viewing.) And it will provide high-definition streams of anything aired in HD.
Without all that bonus content, Hulu Plus might seem a fairly duplicitous ploy by Hulu: First the movie and TV studios that own it forced it to shut off access to such TV-friendly platforms as Boxee's Web-media software and Hillcrest Labs' Kylo browser, and now Hulu will sell you back that access at a healthy premium.
Signing up for Hulu Plus today requires requesting an invite through a form at its site; my request was promptly greeted with an automatic but unhelpful reply saying, "We'll send you an invite as soon as one becomes available." I've asked its PR department for a trial account but haven't heard back yet.
Watching Hulu Plus on Apple and Samsung's devices requires downloading and installing a new program, available in Apple's App Store (link opens iTunes) and in the TV-apps store Samsung announced in January.
What about other hardware? Kilar's blog post mentions Sony's PlayStation 3--update, 4:58 p.m.: a "Devices" page cites support this fall for Sony and Vizio Internet-enabled TVs, followed early next year by the Xbox 360--but the survey you're asked to complete when requesting an invite offers hints of other development priorities. In addition to typical questions about your age and type of Internet connection, it asks you to list your mobile devices (your choices are iPad, iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Palm), Internet-enabled TVs and Blu-ray players (from LG, Samsung, Sony, Vizio and "other"), game consoles (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii) and set-top boxes (TiVo, Roku, cable, satellite, other). The Apple TV, Google's in-development Google TV software and Boxee's upcoming Boxee Box all go unmentioned there.
What's your read on Hulu Plus? Is it something you'd consider paying for, or will you need something else in the package? Let me know in your comment if you pay for TV via cable, satellite or fiber or if you've joined me and, as of this week, my colleague Cecilia Kang in taking a break from that.
June 29, 2010; 3:16 PM ET
Categories: Gadgets , Mobile , TV , Video
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