Making good on the longstanding rumors that Hulu would be coming to the Xbox 360, and the more recent rumors that Hulu would be coming to PS3, is the actual announcement of Hulu Plus. Yes, it will be coming to those platforms, and several more besides.
Hulu Plus is a new "ad-supported subscription product that is incremental and complementary to the existing Hulu service." Hulu Plus features content above and beyond what is available on the free version of the Hulu website, and it delivers that content to a fairly staggering array of devices: PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone (3GS and 4 only), iPod Touch, Samsung Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players, Sony Internet-enabled TVs and Blu-Ray players (Fall 2010), Vizio Internet-enabled TVs and Blu-Ray players (Fall 2010), PlayStation 3 (coming soon), and Xbox 360 (early in 2011). Wi-fi and 3G are both supported by the Hulu mobile apps, which are available right now on the iTunes App Store.
All Hulu Plus native HD content streams at 720p. A subscription costs $9.99 a month, and covers as many devices as users own. Currently, interested customers must request an invitation to become a Hulu Plus subscriber. Hulu's Blog notes that the company will "be sending out invitations in waves" in order to assure that they are "offering the best experience for all our Hulu Plus customers."
Of course, we're gamers, and we want to know what this means to us. Well, what this means to us is that, just like with Netflix on Xbox 360, we're going to have to subscribe to our console of choice's premium online service in order to take advantage of the situation. Xbox Live Gold or PlayStation Plus subscriptions are required in order to view Hulu Plus on our consoles.
Game consoles have become a massive gateway to video content. Both Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PS3 already have video marketplaces that allow users to rent or buy TV shows and movies. Both systems also feature Netflix streaming, a fantastic service with an enormous amount of ever-changing content. Now, with Hulu Plus, full seasons of current television shows, as well as a sizable number of older programs, are about to become accessible through our game consoles. It's got to be enough to make the cable companies sweat.
For me, though, Hulu Plus is still not quite enough to replace my cable TV service -- but it's getting close. The price is compelling, as is the ability to stream content to my iPhone. My informal testing of streaming content over 3G yielded almost shockingly good results. The service may be worth it for that feature alone.
But it wouldn't be that alone, would it. Hulu's Blog puts it this way:
"A spare five minutes will never be as boring again. You can start watching a show on your HDTV one night, pick up where you left off on your laptop at lunch, watch another chunk on the bus ride home on your iPhone, and finish watching in bed on your iPad. The time to watch your favorite shows is any time you want."
That's a strong argument. The ability to stream my chosen content to whatever device is at hand is both a hard proposition to resist, and a possibly game-changer for the television industry.
Ranters, where do you come down on Hulu Plus? Have any of you received subscription invitations? If so, what do you think of the service?