Hulu Might Start Charging for Content

Hulu is seriously considering charging users to watch its movies and television, according to Jeff Bercovici from Daily Finance. But Hulu, are we really going to enjoy your evil plot to destroy the world of television if we have to pay for it?

Bercovici quotes Jonathan Miller, the chief digital officer of News Corp. which co-owns Hulu in addition to running Fox Television/News and the Wall Street Journal. Miller says:

I think what works for consumers most likely -- and this has to be tested, frankly -- is bundles. I think you have to figure out what are the right bundles that people buy and what's contained in that bundle.

So the co-owner of Hulu and the digital manager of WSJ likes bundles. What kind of future could his vision hold for consumers? I could see Hulu charging for, say, an NBC bundle, or perhaps a "Pick-three-shows" bundle. Or the Wall Street Journal could charge for a Finance bundle where you wouldn't necessarily have to pay for the entire paper, but you could have access to all the subcriber information under the Finance tab. More broadly, Miller sees operations like Kindle creating media bundles by packaging New York subscription publications together for a single "saver" price.

If you're going to start charging for something that consumers are used to considering free, packages are a great way to start. They connote savings and you see your money purchasing a diversity of goods, which eases the psychological queasiness of paying for something where you weren't aware it had a price. After all, television used to be free and now we have cable packages.