Some pundits are saying Saturday's launch of Apple's iPad will usher in a new era of computing; others say the highly anticipated table is just the latest gadget for techies,a new toy and little more. For catch-up online video hub Hulu, the iPad coukle well be a door to a new business model.
In its current Adobe Flash-based iteration, Hulu-hosted online video won't work on the iPad, which doesn't support Flash. But the New York Times is reporting that sources have told it Hulu soon will have an iPad app available that allows Hulu content to be viewed on the iPad, but adds that it'll be a subscription-based model that will help Hulu test the premium-content waters.
The Times said the company is being pressured by its content providers to float a pay service on at least some of the online video it offers, in addition to ad-based model Hulu currently relies upon. The new screen the iPad provides could be its best opportunity to trial that kind of service. CEO Jason Kilar, who sees iPad and other soon-to-launch tablets as an opportunity to expand non-traditional online video viewing opportunities, says Hulu isn't opposed to trying out a pay service.
"Our mission is to help people discover the world's premium content, and we believe that subscriptions can help to unlock some of that, including sports and movies and premium cable shows," said Jason Kilar, Hulu's CEO. "We're certainly open to subscriptions as a complement to an ad-supported model."
Hulu, which says it was cash-flow positive in the past two quarters, has grown tremendously since it launch, topping one billion video streams in December and 903 million in January, comScore says, second only to YouTube.
But its 200-some content providers, which receive the lion's share of ad revenue from their videos, have been less than thrilled with payouts and are looking for ways to increase them including setting Hulu up behind at least a partial pay wall.
- see this Times report
Rumor mill redux: Hulu's going pay-per-view
News Corp.: Pay Hulu on way in 2010
Hulu's sales team cuts ad rates to beat competition: its partners