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Would You Pay for

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | October 23, 2009 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | October 23, 2009 |

I’m a little confused by this: Word is, sometime in 2010, — which is where, I suspect, half our readership watches their television now — “Modern Family,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” and “Glee,” among others, are available there for free — is apparently going to give up the free model and start charging for usage. According to News Corp. Deputy Chairman Chase Carey (via Broadcasting & Cable):

“It’s time to start getting paid for broadcast content online,” he said. Carey said that while everyone cites the infamous Jeff Zucker quip that “We’re exchanging analogue dollars for digital dimes,” the industry continues to do exactly that. The strategy needs to be more than just fighting piracy and Google, he says.”

I thought that was the point of Hulu — that we could watch the same shows we get for free on our television for free on the Internet. The money, I thought, came from the commercials. And if those ads only pay for the licensing fee (and royalties to the writers/cast), then air a second commercial just for Hulu, amiright? When people get something good for free, they’re often willing to put up with a little annoyance by way of advertising (although, God bless our readership, but I don’t know how many emails I get that say something to the effect of: “I know you have to make a living and all, and I don’t mind ads, but can’t you run ads that are out of the way, that I don’t have to see?” Well, that’s the point of advertising! Why would an advertiser pay for something that no one sees?)

I mean: The truth is, the only commercials I really ever see now are Hulu commercials. I can zap them on the DVR, but on the Internet, you have to wait them out. If you ask me, those Hulu commercials should be a better rate, per viewer, than television commercials. And that’s how it should pay for itself.

Anyway: The subscription slash pay-per-view model is apparently the route that Hulu plans to go. And given how readily available a lot of televisions shows are on the Internet, I don’t know that a pay model is going to work particularly well. I mean: If we wanted to pay for television, wouldn’t we just use iTunes? Or pay for cable and a DVR?

Side note: I completely understand the need for many of you to use ad blockers. Awesome! I’m glad it’s available. But do you have to brag about it in the comment section? It’s basically like saying: “Hey, look DR! I’m depriving you of advertising revenue! Ha ha, sucker! Everybody should be using ad blocker!”

Side note two: I had a friend, who is a filmmaker, email me once and say, “Can you do something about a particular ad on your site?” And I had to refrain from saying, “Yeah. Sure. Can you kill the 20 minutes of previews I have to pay to sit through to see your movie?”

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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