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November 2, 2009

Would you pay for Hulu?

Afraid for her personal television-watching convenience, blogger Heidi Strand enlists the help of readers in an informal poll about whether Hulu.com should become a paid service …

Heidi StrandThe rumormill is flourishing on whether or not Hulu.com’s free content will go-the-way of the dinosaur.

While Entertainment Weekly swears no, other CEO-quoted material says yes.

This isn’t just an issue for me, and the House, Bones, Lie to Me and Glee episodes I favor weekly, but a greater issue regarding brand positioning and customer experience.

Hulu.com was founded on the idea of convenience. Few interruptions with limited commerical breaks and the ability to watch 24/7, have become Hulu.com’s Om. A chant I quickly took up despite the strange alien commericals.

Paying for this service shifts its foundation and, I believe, will shift its “raving” fans to “complaining” fans.

It’s easy to sit in a boardroom, evaluate the bottomline and say … “We could charge for this service because the cable companies do and we offer less commercials. People will still want our services for the convenience we offer.” But, I’m not convinced.

Part of Hulu.com’s appeal is the value it provides me. I get great value and when that value is lessened, so is my experience and my opinion about the brand.

And, that my friends, is the message here. Before moving in a direction that negatively impacts value, be certain that you’ve solicited customer feedback.

In the case of Hulu.com … my feedback (for anyone who cares) is I doubt I will pay for the service if it moves to that business model, especially since I probably can go the actual network Websites and watch for free.

But, what about you? What role does “value” play in your customer experiences? And do you have any advice for Hulu.com?