No More Free TV On Hulu

It seems only right that television execs want to charge me for their product--it's kinda their job. I already pay $1.99 or so for Mad Men, a price that I actually consider too cheap. I would probably pay as much an five bucks an episode--maybe even more. I consider Mad Men a premium product and just as I don't expect the prices at a five star restaurant to be the same as those at McDonald's, I would understand if a show like Mad Men cost more than, say, Real Housewives of Atlanta.

I would also gladly pay for other shows I generally like--The League, Ugly Betty and, possibly, Community. All of that said, I think there are some misplaced assumptions here:

Comcast, the country's largest cable operator, has already been using its considerable muscle to limit how many shows are available online, lest people think they can cancel their costly cable subscriptions and watch free online. Now the company -- which, if the NBC deal passes government muster, will own a piece of the biggest site that threatens to undercut its core business -- is looking for ways to charge for ubiquitous access to shows...

While Hulu does not release revenue figures, executives privately concede the site is not yet profitable. The race to "get our content out to viewers where, when and how they want it" was well intentioned, Mr. Meyer said in October, but it is "undermining the basic business model -- by making our content less valuable to the people who actually are paying for it."

I think the problem in this thinking is the notion that people are going to Hulu because they don't want to pay for TV. That's part of it, but it's a simplification. Again, speaking for myself, it's not that I don't want to pay for TV, it's that I don't want to pay for cable news recycling the same story, or Stuart Scott yelling "Boo-yah!" in order to get my Larry David fix.

What I want is to watch "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and then go on with my life--and I'll gladly pay a premium for that privilege. I don't want to have to flip through a hundred different channels of silliness in order to get to what I want to see. In other words, for me, the problem isn't paying, it's the lack of control.

Now it may be that if not for all that fluff "The League" would be canceled. In other words, it's possible that the programming I love is subsidized, in some way, by the programming I hate. I'd welcome some explanation of that point, and whether there's a solution. But this isn't simply a matter of willingness to pay.