By Sylvia Gurinsky
Hulu.com, owned by NBC Universal, hit on a successful formula of showing television programs online. Its advertising method has made a profit.
That's not good enough for the company, though. Like everything else it's touched recently, particularly NBC, the parent company is primed to screw this up, too.
Starting next month, Hulu.com plans to charge almost $10 a month for subscribers to episodes beyond five or so that would be free. This is in addition to continuing to seek advertising. Presumably, this would apply to the classic television shows, such as "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Magnum, PI," that it has, as well as PBS shows such as "Rick Steves' Europe."
As one can imagine, that decision hasn't been well received by consumers. Take a look at the postings under any article about Hulu's decision. Almost 100 percent of them are against this measure.
Hulu's argument is that it doesn't want to lose money on these programs the way the music industry lost money for years. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. On the Internet, those who are determined to get something for free will do so.
It seems the best business model for Hulu - and ultimately, many Internet entities - might be advertising - perhaps single-sponsored programs, as so many radio and television shows used to do.
It's not a good idea for Hulu to change its top-rated program to "Greed." Viewers may change theirs to "Turnoff."