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Hulu to charge $10 for past-its-prime time TV

(Yes, it's still trapped in the US)

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Online TV site Hulu will begin a $9.95 per month subscription service come May 24, according to the Los Angeles Times.

No, the subcription service won't be for all Hulu content - the most recent five episodes of popular TV shows will remain free. The Times cites Fox's Glee, ABC's Lost, and NBC's Saturday Night Live as examples.

And no, ponying up for the subscription service won't provide you with commercial-free TV, according to the Times. Though there's been no official announcement from Hulu as yet, don't expect the company to drop that revenue stream.

And finally, no, Hulu won't be extending its service to the UK or elsewhere - it'll remain US-only, despite rumors last spring that it was Blighty-bound.

Hulu's owners - News Corp, NBC Universal, and Walt Disney - are apparently dissatisfied with the profits that Hulu has been pulling in. The company made $100m in 2009, and its chief exec Jason Kilar recently told The New York Times that he expects to reach that same number in 2010 by early summer.

But, apparently, that's not enough to satisfy either Hulu's owners or its 200 content suppliers, who now receive between 50 to 70 per cent of the the company's ad revenues.

The subscription move comes as no surprise. As Kilar 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."

That ad-supported model wasn't lucrative enough for Viacom, which yanked its Comedy Central shows - think John Stewart and Steven Colbert (and, yes, Carlos Mencia and Kröd Mändoon) - when it couldn't reach a suitable deal with Hulu.

And so the subscription fee - which, as the Times puts it, is also intended to "train" viewers to pay for "professionally produced" online content.

Professionally produced? Hmm ... cf. Kröd Mändoon, above. ®

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