5 Things You Need To Know About The Launch Of Hulu Plus

Yesterday Hulu Plus officially launched out of preview, but what does that mean for you? We’ve got the skinny on everything from the price to the show lineup, compatible devices, special deals, and how Hulu Plus measures up to the competition. Read on to learn more.

How much does it cost?

There have been a lot of rumors and a bit of confusion surrounding the question of how much Hulu Plus would cost. When the online video streaming site first announced their paid subscription service they did not reveal how much it would cost, though most people assumed the price would be comparable to other paid online streaming services like Netflix and Megavideo. They were correct, as the preview site launched at $9.99 a month, the same price as Megavideo.

However, about a month ago rumors began to spread that Hulu would be cutting their price by fifty percent, charging users only $4.95 per month. Sorry guys, you won’t be getting Hulu Plus service for this cheap (at least not yet), but the site did lower the price to $7.99 per month, the same price as Netflix charges for its streaming-only service.

Is Hulu offering any special deals for new Hulu Plus customers?

Yes! According to the Hulu blog, the site is offering a number of special offers, “to make it as easy and risk-free as possible for users to try out this service.” The special offers are as follows:

  • One-week free trials for all new Hulu Plus subscribers (If you subscribed during the preview period you will receive a one-week credit towards next month’s subscription)
  • Two free weeks of Hulu Plus for you and a friend when you refer people through the Hulu Plus referral program
  • 11 weeks free (a $20 value) when you purchase a Sony BRAVIA connected TV or Blu-ray player (offer good through January 31, 2011)
  • One free month when you purchase a Roku device (offer good through December 15, 2010)

Is Hulu Plus available on other devices, or just on my computer?

In addition to watching Hulu Plus on your computer you can also check out Hulu Plus on connected TV and Roku. Hulu writes in their blog that, “Hulu Plus is now available on devices that have an installed base of over 50 million.” Hulu Plus also launched yesterday in the Roku store, and Roku sent out a tweet letting users know how to access the service.

Hulu also announced that, “In the months to come, Hulu Plus will be coming to Internet-connected Vizio, LG Electronics, and Panasonic Blu-ray players and HDTVs; TiVo Premiere DVRs; the Xbox 360; and Western Digital’s WD TV Live Hub Media Center and WD TV Live Plus Network Media Player, with many more mobile phones, tablets, set-top boxes, and Internet-connected devices to be announce.”

They will also be updating their applications for the Samsung, PlayStation 3, Apple iPad, iPhone, and iPad touch over the next week.

What do I get with Hulu Plus?

Hulu Plus users gain access to the current seasons of a huge library of current popular television series, as well as older seasons of a wide variety of shows. The company says, “We are proud to offer our users the only subscription service with the full current season of hit TV shows like Glee, Modern Family, The Office, House, 30 Rock, Grey’s Anatomy, and more, with minimal ad-load, across computers, TVs, mobile phones, and tablets.”

There is still a free Hulu service. However, free users will have access to fewer episodes and will have to sit through more ads than Hulu Plus users. Free users will have access only to the last five episodes of current popular shows, while Hulu Plus users can watch the entire current season of 45 popular shows, every season of over 90 shows and more. Hulu Plus users also have the option to watch content in High Definition (720p) quality, while free users only have access to Standard Definition content.

How does Hulu Plus stack up to other online video subscription services?

At this time it is hard to tell how Hulu Plus will measure up as a competitor in the subscription-streaming arena. The price is definitely comparable to other subscription streaming services and they do have a great selection of television series, which is definitely a plus. However, they don’t have the catalogue of films that so many Netflix users have grown accustomed to.

This week, VideoNuze reported some interesting statistics from a One Touch Intelligence report. The report showed that 4% of Hulu.com users are already subscribing to the Hulu Plus service. Of those subscribing, 88% are also subscribing to Netflix. These stats were gathered prior to Hulu Plus’ out of preview release, when the service cost $9.99. I have a feeling we will see a big jump in the number of subscribers as the price has dropped to $7.99 per month.

So why are so many Hulu Plus users doubling up on Hulu and Netflix? It could be that they want to test out the service to see if they like it better than Netflix. However, the more likely culprit is that they are subscribing to both in order to broaden their choice of content. Hulu offers shows that Netflix doesn’t offer, and Netflix offers a huge library of films that Hulu doesn’t have.

So does Netflix see Hulu as a competitor? Who better to answer this question than Hulu’s CEO, Reed Hastings. NewTeeVee quotes Hastings as saying, “Most of Hulu’s revenues are ad-supported, and we’ve actually run a lot of advertising on Hulu. Hulu Plus may grow into a competitor over time, and it will probably be good for us.”

Are you considering subscribing to Hulu Plus? Have you subscribed already? Let us know what you think of the service.

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