Hulu Launches Preview of its Subscription-Based Premium Service, "Hulu Plus"

--Service Touted as Available on "Four Screens"

Network-backed broadband programming service provider, Hulu, on Tuesday launched a preview of its long-awaited (see, for example, the articles published on, April 25th and May 18th), subscription-based premium service, "Hulu Plus." Priced at $9.99 per month (i.e. a dollar more than Netflix's basic Unlimited plan), the service will offer, among other things, full current and past seasons of a range of shows from Hulu parents, ABC, NBC and Fox, the company says, and will deliver content in "up to 720p" HD, with adaptive bitrate streaming supported on certain devices.

Hulu Plus will be available to its subscribers not just on their computer but in the living room and on the go, Hulu says. Supported devices, according to the company, include the Apple iPad, the iPhone 3GS and 4 (note: it will be available on the iPhone and iPad via both WiFi and 3G) and the third-generation iPod touch, and select 2010 Blu-ray players, Blu-ray home theater systems and TV's from Samsung (via the latter's Samsung Apps platform), as well as PC's and Macs. The service will also be available "soon" on the PlayStation3, Hulu says, and, "in the coming months," on Sony Bravia TV's and Blu-ray players and on select TV's and Blu-ray players from Vizio. In early 2011, the company promises, Hulu Plus will launch on the Microsoft Xbox 360, adding that it will "continue to evaluate opportunities to extend Hulu Plus to other hardware devices and platforms as well." "We're thrilled to begin sharing this revolutionary new service with subscribers," Hulu CEO, Jason Kilar, said in a prepared statement. "Hulu Plus is the first subscription service that offers consumers a wide array of today's top current TV series on all four screens [i.e. computers, TV's, mobiles and tablets], in HD."

According to Hulu, Hulu Plus's programming library aggregates content from over 100 providers, including broadcast networks, major studios and independent content creators. The company says that it will offer every episode of more than 45 current programs from ABC, Fox and NBC "all season long," including such shows as "Modern Family," "Grey's Anatomy," "Glee," "Family Guy," "The Office" and "30 Rock" (note: the free version of Hulu offers a handful of past episodes of current-season shows). It will also feature full series of such classic shows as "The X-Files," "Law and Order: SVU," "Arrested Development," "Saturday Night Live," "Miami Vice," "Ugly Betty," "Quantum Leap," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Angel," "Roswell" and "Ally McBeal." A full list of the service's content and content providers is available here.

Despite being a subscription-based service, Hulu Plus will feature advertising: for the service's preview launch, Hulu has signed up Nissan and Bud Light as advertising partners, and says it expects to sign up additional advertisers for the full consumer launch. The company bills the service as allowing it to "extend its innovative and targeted ad platform across four screens, reaching Internet-connected users wherever they are."

During the preview period, subscriptions will be offered by invitation only. However, Hulu says that interested parties can download a free Hulu Plus application for iPad, iPhone 3GS and 4, the third-generation iPod touch and other supported devices "to test the experience with a limited selection of free episodes and clips." The service is slated to launch commercially "in the coming months."

North America