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Hulu unlocks the albatross

Hulu has been a streaming-video pioneer, yet when its name comes up in conversation it seems to always be negative. That’s what you get when your paid video streaming service is full of ads when all of your paid video streaming service competitors are free of ads.

So as of today Hulu’s offering commercial-free subscriptions for $12/month. In other words, Hulu now lets you pay a 50 percent premium on the normal $8/month subscription to watch it without ads.

While Hulu is moving away from being “the video service packed full of ads,” it’s also more expensive than its competitors. Compare Hulu’s $12/month ad-free plan with Netflix’s $8/month HD plan and Amazon Instant Video’s $8.25/month (actually part of the larger $99/year Amazon Prime service).

I watched a 1970s-era “Doctor Who” episode today at lunchtime on Hulu1, and sure enough, there weren’t any ads. However, during a 25-minute episode there were three different “commercial breaks” in which the action faded out, and then back in. It’s a reminder of Hulu’s original business model—but one that it’s at least starting to see beyond.


  1. Turns out that Hulu has exclusive access to by far the largest streaming collection of classic “Doctor Who” episodes in America. ↩