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Hulu to soon charge for content, sources say

Dovetailing with past rumors, sources quoted by Reuters say video site will soon introduce paid subscription and branch out onto devices like the Xbox and iPad.

Those of you who catch your favorite movies and TV shows on might soon have to pay for the privilege, but you might also be able to watch them on more than just your PC.

With rumors buzzing about Hulu's plans for the future, sources cited by Reuters said that the video site will soon unveil a subscription-based service and jump onto other consumer devices, including Microsoft's Xbox and Apple's iPad.

Two sources and another person familiar with the matter said that Hulu would launch these new services in the next month or two, though it was not clear if the subscription would be available before Hulu made the leap to the Xbox and iPad.

Rumors about these developments have been in the news for months, with most sources saying that Hulu won't get rid of its free, ad-supported access, but rather would limit that content to only new episodes of current TV shows. The paid subscription, which reportedly would cost $9.95 a month, would offer a wider selection so people could catch older seasons of their favorite series.


Reports about Hulu debuting on the Xbox turned hotter this month with one source claiming that Microsoft would announce a Hulu subscription for its game console at E3 next week. iPad users who want their Hulu may also need to pony up for a subscription as well, according to sources. And Hulu, which uses Adobe Flash to display its content, would of course need to figure out how best to display its videos on the Flash-less iPad.

Opinions vary on whether consumers would pay for Hulu content that they now can grab for free. One analyst quoted by Reuters said people already spend $100 or more for cable TV, Internet, and other services and may not want to pay for yet another subscription. But another analyst believes consumers would pay for the convenience of watching their favorite content anywhere, anytime.

Hulu hasn't confirmed any of these rumors, but there is food for thought in the road map on its FAQ page. The company has long said there that it's listening to user feedback to determine its next investment in how to help people enjoy premium content online and that it's passionate about delivering premium programming when, where, and how users want it. Perhaps the rumors are a good indication of what users want, and what Hulu is hearing.

Updated 11:20 a.m. PDT: Revised last paragraph about Hulu's FAQ.