Over the past few weeks, upon breaking the news that Hulu may start charging for content, the response among my friends has been almost universally the same – a look of shock or disbelief followed by a dismayed, “but, I love Hulu…”
I know the feeling, like the person I’m dating thinks they might want a break. Crestfallen I think, “this sucks.” Gen Y certainly has a love affair with Hulu. But, introducing a pay-for-content scheme into the mix could make this relationship a little bit tricky.
We love Hulu because it’s simple. An unfortunate side effect of Web 2.0 has been clutter, but amid the static Hulu established a clean, intuitive, easy to use channel. The problems we had with online TV were design, accessibility and attention to detail—and Hulu nailed it. In contrast to other TV websites it successfully translated the act of channel surfing online.
We love Hulu because it gets us. From interface to attitude, the Hulu brand has been on the money. Last year’s Super Bowl spot, “Hulu, an evil plot to destroy the world,” was funny, viral and effective at building an authentic brand image. It’s been so successful that Hulu’s reputation as the place to find TV online has become so well established among my age group. As a result, we’ll likely check it first for any show we’re looking for!
We love Hulu because it makes TV portable. My television can’t leave the living room, my laptop goes into the kitchen when I cook, fits on my nightstand when I go to bed etc. I can take TV anyplace. I can also have it any time. Hulu lets us move, re-watch and share our favorite shows—that’s awesome! and it has become something I expect.
But now Hulu is thinking about our relationship, and wondering if it has been a little too easy. The question has become: how hard will it be to pry a few bucks out of Gen Y’s loyal hands? Potentially very hard.
Not to say that pay-for-content is impossible, but there are a few things we probably won’t stand for and we’re not afraid to leave. By now you should probably have a good idea of how fast we’ll learn bit-torrent and put up with Mandarin subtitles.
We probably won’t pay for commercials. Though notorious for avoiding advertising, us millennials are very aware that they fund our content. We’re fine with advertising on Hulu, we watch it. Start charging us for content and we’ll start to wonder why ads keep interrupting our content. Or maybe we’ll just wait for the whole season on DVD and ‘NetFlix’ it.
We probably won’t change our habits. We expect the ability to watch recently aired shows online for free. FX puts up, “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia,” with a one week delay, and that’s great. This has often motivated me to try hard to catch it live. But, if I miss my show and have no way to catch up without paying, I’ll feel slighted. “Screw you if I want to go out on Thursday night, when can I see my show?” The world today demands that we be flexible, and so we demand same of the world.
We probably won’t pay for what we’re getting right now. Though Hulu is often discussed as if it’s a land of untamed free content, any given show typically has just a few resent episodes available. Unless there is more content (and a lot more), it’s unlikely we’ll pay for it. Further, it better be cheap. Don’t forget we’re already paying over $100 a month for basic cable and internet access, (I guess we could just cancel our cable to sign up exclusively for Hulu? But I don’t think that’s what networks want either).
Bottom line, we want real value or convenience. After all, whether it’s student loans or mortgage payments, we’ve all got bills to pay and limited time – what would it take for you to pay for Hulu?
Photo Credit: anuragbansal
Author: Jason Potteiger – Associate Editor at TNGG