Bloomberg reports that Sony is close to finalizing an agreement with Hulu to support its upcoming paid TV service on its PlayStation 3 game console.
Bloomberg, citing two people close to the matter, says that the partnership could be announced as early as next week. If this rumored deal becomes a reality, it could drastically alter the connected-TV landscape that is currently under heavy — if scattered — development.
Plans of a rumored Hulu pay service have existed since last Fall, and escalated during the build-up to the iPad’s release. The advantages of a paid service — which would exist alongside the current free service — are potentially beneficial to both content creators and consumers.
For content creators, the upside is simple: more money. I’ve long contended that the only real problem with Hulu, for networks anyway, is that it has been too successful. Not many people expected Hulu to take off the way that it did. A subscription service allows them to at least theoretically make a little more money (or lose a little bit less money, depending on your point of view) on the service, while also upping its offerings.
For end users, a subscription plan becomes far more attractive if it means you can watch Hulu on other devices, like your iPad or PS3, in addition to gaining access to a broader library of content. Plus, because Hulu is reportedly in discussions with CBS to offer its content via the subscription service, users could also gain access to more content partners too.
First Official Hulu TV Solution
A Hulu option for the PS3 would be the first official Hulu solution for television sets. Although many other services — most notably, Boxee — have tried to bring Hulu to the big screen, Hulu has gone out of its way to make that more difficult.
Interestingly, Hulu did launch its own Hulu Desktop app last year and while the app was purportedly for the “lean-back” computer-viewing experience, the fact that it supports Windows Media and Apple remote controls out of the box — not to mention the size of menus and icons — makes it clear that the interface was at least considered for TV viewers. In fact, using my Mac mini HTPC, I’ve been enjoying Hulu on my 40″ HDTV for nearly a year now. Of course, having a more integrated experience with an existing consumer device would be even better.
PS3: The Ultimate Media Player?
The fact that Hulu may be partnering with Sony rather than launching its own box is interesting and, we think, telling. The easiest way for device companies and set-top software makers to get their product into the hands of consumers is to build a separate box. However, having a million boxes connected to your TV is not a fun experience. Take it from a low-level home video fanatic, the more separate boxes you have, the less likely you are to use the various features.
This is why I love devices like my LG Blu-ray player. In one device, I get access to Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, my home network, VUDU and DivX. Plus, I get to play Blu-ray discs. And while boxes from Roku and the upcoming Boxee Box aren’t as comprehensive as a Blu-ray player, they still provide access to a ton of different services from one device. That’s powerful appeal.
Right now, the PlayStation 3 supports Netflix, the ability to rent or download movies and connection to your home network. European users can soon access the great film content from MUBI as well. Even if you never buy a single PlayStation 3 video game, the device is a pretty great value proposition as a media device.
With Hulu support, PS3’s worth rises even further. As attractive as aspects of Google TV and other connected solutions are, just having Hulu support would immediately give the PS3 a huge advantage over its competition.
What will be really interesting to see is if Hulu decides to license its subscription service to multiple manufacturers the way that Netflix has. Netflix has been extremely smart in doing that; a year ago, a handful of Blu-ray players featured Netflix support. Now it’s difficult to find a player that doesn’t support the service. There is a lot of built-in value for future subscribers or returning subscribers if the feature is built into the devices they are already buying.
What Do You Think?
Does the idea of a subscription Hulu service on the PS3 excite you? Would you be willing to buy a PS3 for the ability to watch Hulu content on the big screen? Let us know.
By Mashable: http://www.mashable.com