Hulu might be turning a profit, and it might be the second-most-successful video streaming service on the Internet (after YouTube), but it’s no secret–in fact, what’s the opposite of secret?–that content providers are less than thrilled with its revenue. Viacom pulled two of Hulu’s most popular shows, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, just a few weeks ago.
There’s been a pretty persistent rumor that Hulu would try to earn more money by charging a monthly subscription, a la Netflix. The New York Times whispered that such a service might debut with an app for Apple‘s iPad, and Dell’s brand-new Android phones come with a little rumbling of a similar app. But this is the first really strong talk we’ve seen of the subscription model.
According to the L.A. Times, the service will be $10 per month, and will give access to Hulu’s back catalog. You’ll still be able to watch the latest five episodes of any given currently airing show for free, but to see older episodes, you’ll have to pay. Hopefully that’ll mean that the shows limited to just a few trailing episodes (like Modern Family, Parks and Recreation, and, most painfully, The Real Housewives of New York City) will lose that limitation and Hulu can start stocking its virtual shelves with full seasons. The service is rumored to begin testing as soon as May 24th.
It’s a huge move for Hulu, and it’s not clear how it’ll pay off. Users may have to decide between Hulu and cable, or Hulu and Netflix, and that may not necessarily work out in Hulu’s favor. But this push might encourage more content and more revenue for Hulu, which hopefully will lead to mobile apps–and that’d be great for all of us. Netflix + Hulu is still less than cable, right?