According to The Wall Street Journal, American TV streaming giant Hulu is considering launching a version of its service that will contain no commercials at all. The Journal's sources claim it will cost between $12 and $14 a month, and could launch as soon as this fall.
Hulu is jointly-owned by Fox, Disney, and Comcast (shiver) - companies with very heavily vested interests in the survival of the existing cable and satellite TV regimes. Why, then, would Hulu seek to cut more cables by offering an enticing ad-free subscription option? The answer is almost certainly growth. Netflix has more than seven times the number of subscribers as Hulu (to be fair, Netflix is offered in other countries). If Netflix begins to gain real traction with its own original content, both content and cable companies could stand to lose.
It's clear there's at least some demand for a no-ad option - ads can be a major turn-off in the age of internet video. YouTube is generally considered the "tolerable" standard, with 5, 15, or occasionally 30-second pre-roll ads. Hulu, by comparison, often serves anywhere from 3-6 advertisements per half hour of content, and many of those ads are over a minute long. I often think Hulu is nothing else if not a convincing TV simulation.
By adding a no-ads option, Hulu is hoping to see a subscribership surge as those who have refused to pay for streaming content with advertisements relent, assuming they're willing to pay $12-14 a month for TV episodes that show up anywhere from a day to a week after they air. I don't think I'll be upgrading - at least the commercials give me a chance to stand up once in a while.