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Hulu Plus customers may need to prove they’re cable customers

John Moe May 1, 2012

There’s a lot of speculation going around this morning about whether Hulu is about to change its entire business model when it comes to the Hulu Plus premium subscription model.

Stuff like this from The New York Post:

Hulu, which attracted 31 million unique users in March under a free-for-all model, is taking its first steps to change to a model where viewers will have to prove they are a pay-TV customer to watch their favorite shows, sources tell The Post.
In fact, the move by Hulu toward the new model — called authentication because viewers would have to log in with their cable or satellite TV account number — was behind the move last week by Providence Equity Partners to cash out of Hulu after five years, these sources said.

So the only way you could even get Hulu Plus is if you already subscribe to cable. In other words, in order to get the thing that you use because you don’t want cable, you have to have cable. In a related story, if you want to own a bicycle, you have to prove you already own an SUV, even though it’s much more expensive.

But before you get furious at Hulu and Big Cable and shout out, “THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS”, heed the words of Mashable’s Christina Warren who says it won’t happen soon and perhaps not at all:

While one source told us that Hulu is in talks with networks about adding more TV Everywhere-style login options for certain programming, another claimed that the discussions were merely about Fox signing more television providers into its online system.
Fox has been the most bullish network when it comes to restricting current content to cable or satellite subscribers. Last September, Fox began limiting next-day access to its programming on Fox.com. Verizon and Dish Network subscribers can login to Fox.com with their accounts and access next-day content. Everyone else has to wait eight days.

Crucially, Fox and the Post (and Fox Business News, which also ran the speculation) are owned by News Corp. Could this be a trial balloon to test public reaction?

Public interest groups are already upset about it.

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