You had to see this one coming. After hinting that the Wall Street Journal on Blackberry may soon be going to a subscription model, Murdoch mentioned he and his Hulu partners may be looking at a similar boost to its revenue stream.
At the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference here Tuesday, Murdoch said the company is looking for ways to further monetize the joint venture, which also includes The Walt Disney Co. and providence Equity Partners.
"Are we looking at it with a view toward adding subscription services and pay per view? Yes we are," Murdoch said of the Hulu venture. "No decisions have been made yet."
Hulu’s approach to online , completely ad supported at the moment, is already a trend setter. It is being replicated by the music industry with its Vevo portal, for example. But another online bellwether immediately questioned the move. Huliq news (appropriately enough reported:
Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt said that it will be hard for the publishers to charge for online content.
And that may be true. However, Hulu has something cooking in its lab that may be have some market power.
Currently in beta and available as a free download, the Hulu Desktop provides a browser-less viewing experience. With a Microsoft Remote Control, you are able to watch anything on Hulu from the comfort of your couch. Sign up for a Hulu Account and you are able to fill your queue online and all you have to do in the Desktop is scroll through your pre-selected viewing options with the arrow keys. It makes for a much better experience than searching with a remote control. Call it the best of both worlds:
- full keyboard search on a PC
- full (or widescreen) viewing in a living room
The Hulu Desktop has the potential to offer viewers greater options, knowing the customer base will not be in-browser. Tiered plans could be across the board for a nice matrix offering different
- video and audio quality
- ad unit frequency
- program shelf life
The current a/v quality has very manageable bit rates for the web being viewed by a regular Mac, or laptop, even with a wireless connection. More and more viewers are dedicating desktop or equivalents to their HDTV with an HD decode capable video card and wired Ethernet connection. Using adaptive streaming technology, the quality of the connection can be measured to see how high the bit rate can be cranked up, supporting could be incorporated to provide
- higher resolution video
- multi-channel audio
- additional non-programming enhancements
And you have to transport yourself back to the Golden Age of TV, pay one time for the software and watch with ads. Pay a bit of a premium and the ads lessen or go away entirely. Hulu partners make it happen. Don’t sabotage the good thing you have going on the web to try and make a quick buck.