It comes as a shock to no one that Hulu is most probably working on an iPad app, as four different sources have told the New York Times. Those sources also say the company is interested in testing out a subscription model in the iPad version.
Hulu CEO Jason Kilar, who has been traditionally tight-lipped about the topic of subscriptions, seems to have recently warmed to talking about the idea. He told the NYT, “Our mission is to help people discover the world’s premium content, and we believe that subscriptions can help to unlock some of that, including sports and movies and premium cable shows. We’re certainly open to subscriptions as a complement to an ad-supported model.”
Apparently some of Hulu’s content partners are putting a significant amount of pressure on the site to explore the subscription model. And since moving Hulu’s content onto a new platform like the iPad requires a huge amount of effort not just technically but also with negotiating licensing deals, it would make sense to defray some of that cost with additional revenue streams from something like subscription. One Hulu employee likened the effort required to port Hulu to other platforms like the iPad or mobile devices to “trying to pass the health care bill.”
Kilar also confirmed in the same interview that the site has been profitable for the past two quarters. He said 2009 revenue was over $100 million, and the site could reach that figure already by summer of this year. Still, with content partners clamoring for an even larger revenue slice, subscription might be a logical next step to consider — especially if consumers show a willingness to open their wallets for content on the new iPad platform.
Would you be willing to pay a subscription fee to watch TV on your iPad?