June 29, 2010 / 7:45 PM / 9 years ago

Hulu starts paid subscription TV service

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hulu introduced a new paid subscription service for watching TV shows and movies on mobile devices, game consoles, television sets and computers, and joined other media companies trying to strike a balance between paid and ad supported models.

Until now, Hulu has been free over the web supported by advertisements, but offered only selected TV shows and movies. That service will continue to exist after the launch of Hulu Plus.

Hulu’s subscription service, called Hulu Plus, gives users access to more than 45 full programs of everything from “Glee” to “The Office” for $9.99 a month.

Like all media companies, Hulu has its work cut out in trying to get people to pay for programing they are used to watching for free from the broadcast networks.

Hulu Plus is hoping to lure consumers to pay a monthly fee for the convenience of watching shows whenever they want.

Hulu has the backing of some of the most powerful media brands, with Fox owner News Corp, General Electric Co’s NBC Universal, ABC owner Walt Disney Co holding equity stakes in the company. Providence Equity Partners also is a stakeholder.

Hulu said it is making its service available on Apple Inc’s iPhone, iPad and iTouch, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s television sets and Blu-ray players. Soon, Hulu Plus will be available on Sony Corp’s PlayStation 3.

Next year, the service will be available on Microsoft Corp’s Xbox 360, Hulu said in its announcement on Tuesday.

Netflix Inc already runs a subscription service, while Comcast Corp and Time Warner Inc are developing “TV Everywhere,” which will allow people to watch shows on demand for free and on any device provided they are already paying customers.

In another case, Time Warner’s HBO service Go lets subscribers download episodes of “True Blood” or “Big Love” as a free ad-on.

The Hulu subscription plan and partnership with device makers was a widely anticipated move, reported by Reuters and others earlier this month.

In a blog post, Hulu chief executive Jason Kilar described Hulu Plus as “incremental and complementary” to the existing Hulu service. He said the subscription plan would make available full seasons of current TV shows, as well as back seasons of hit programs like “Arrested Development” and “The X-Files.”

“We believe that any lasting solution to the challenge of making TV show discovery and viewing dramatically easier has to work for all three of our customers, and those are our end users, our advertisers, and our content suppliers,” Kilar wrote.

CBS Corp is the only major broadcast network without an ownership stake in Hulu and currently does not make any of its programs available on the video website. The company declined to comment on whether it would participate in the paid service.

Reporting by Jennifer Saba, editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Carol Bishopric

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