Hulu May Come to iPad as Paid Subscription Service

Peter Kafka:

Hulu and its owners, three of the big broadcast TV networks, want to bring some version of the Web video service to Apple’s device. But the most likely scenario is one in which access to Hulu on the iPad comes as part of a subscription package, multiple people familiar with the company tell me.

A paid service could work and could be successful, but it’d have to offer more than the free web version. It’s not going to fly if the iPad version offers the exact same content as the Flash version except you have to pay for it.

And if Hulu decides to define the iPad as a mobile device, it would also need its content owners to grant it mobile rights, which it doesn’t actually have. Again, doable. But the broadcasters are already making money from other mobile services, like Verizon’s V Cast. So they have to tread carefully.

This sort of nonsense gets to the bottom of what’s wrong with these entertainment executives’ outlook on the world. They want to define everything by arbitrary device types — this is a “TV”, that is a “computer”, this other thing is a “mobile device” — and then sell/distribute the same content to different device types separately and with no spillage. But it’s all bullshit in the digital world. It’s all just ones and zeroes and pixels. To these TV executives it makes sense to block Boxee from supporting Hulu because Boxee is for “TVs” and Hulu is only intended for “computers”. Now they’re stuck trying to figure out which arbitrary slot the iPad fits into.

Friday, 19 February 2010