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Friday, June 25, 2010

Hulu Plus Headed to iPad, PS3?

Talk of Hulu instituting a for-pay tier of service has been making the rounds since last year, but things appear to be kicking into high gear now -- at least according to some sources, who say an invitation-only beta-version could be rolled-out before the end of June. The big news is that this beta version may be for the iPad, not the PlayStation 3, as originally rumored. However, Sony is said to be close to finalizing a deal which would bring Hulu to the PS3, and some sources say Microsoft's Xbox 360 is not far behind.

Users can sign-up to Sony's PlayStation Network (PSN) for free. Hulu Plus is expected to be an extension of the PSN, much like HBO or Showtime is to basic cable, and would cost $10/month. Hulu has shied away from attempts to bring its services to TV-based apps and devices, such as Boxee, because TV shows and movies on Hulu show only 1/4 the commercials they do on traditional network TV broadcasts; Hulu does not want to cut into traditional TV's revenues, as they provide Hulu's content.

Reports as to Hulu's financial standing varies wildly, depending on the source. Some say the website, which broadcast 813 million unique streams last month, according to Nielsen Co., is already turning a sizable profit from its advertising, despite the fact that that amount "pales in comparison" to the "approximately $11.26 billion gross" its three owners -- NBC Universal, Walt Disney Co. (ABC, Marvel Comics), and News Corp. (Fox) -- generated.

The ├četa testing, which might roll-out next week, is expected to be invitation only and could be limited to as few as 100,000 people. The major impedance to such a program -- even beyond Hulu's and the networks' mutual reluctance to cut into traditional TV-viewing -- are rights and licensing.

© C Harris Lynn, 2010

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