updated 01:45 pm EDT, Tue June 29, 2010
Hulu Plus expands catalog and goes mobile
Hulu today lived up to the rumors and launched Hulu Plus, its paid subscription service. The $10 monthly plan gives access to a much deeper catalog with every episode of both current and past seasons from many ABC, Fox and NBC shows, even in HD. It also becomes the first service to officially escape the desktop: it will now have native iPad and iPhone support and will finally reach the TV through the PlayStation 3, some Samsung Blu-ray players, and Vizio Blu-ray players and TVs.
The paid service is currently in an invite-only preview form, although anyone can request an invitation with hopes of being accepted. The service is still limited to US residents. It's not clear when Hulu anticipates a public rollout of Plus or an international expansion. Xbox 360 support also won't arrive until early 2011.
Adding Plus marks a radical break for Hulu. It has repeatedly expressed a desire to move beyond computers but has repeatedly tried to ban TV-capable platforms from using the free service. Studios providing content to Hulu have often been wary as the free service doesn't yet generate enough ad revenue to make it a viable replacement for cable and satellite TV. Incumbent TV providers have also been defensive against Hulu as it encourages customers to scale back or even drop their TV packages.
It also serves as a symbolic blow to Adobe, which has often used Hulu as an attempt to persuade Apple that Flash was necessary on its devices. The free service will still need Flash to work, but those subscribing to Hulu Plus won't have such concerns in the future.