Hulu's free TV streaming service is back in the news with the announcement of other television apps for the iPad coming on launch day. Rumors of an iPhone app from Hulu have swirled around the company for a year now, with no application ever hitting the App Store. Now Hulu, seeing an opportunity on the iPad platform, is said to be negotiating rights clearances with content providers for the device.
Any mobile Hulu app would likely be based on a subscription model to increase revenues. Although the company has been profitable in the last two quarters, the NY Times reports that some of its 200 content suppliers believe revenue from the service needs to increased. 903 million video streams were watched using Hulu this January.
Some have debated whether the move to a subscription model is due to technical reasons, as Hulu currently uses Adobe Flash on its website. The iPad doesn't support Flash, and this poses problems with the delivery of advertising content in streaming video. Hulu already has much of their video content ready to go in iPad-compatible H.264 format.
Reports indicate Hulu has the basic subscription model already worked out, however each content provider makes a separate deal when it comes to programming on mobile devices. The process is time consuming. An iPad Hulu app isn't expected to be available on iTunes until later this year.
Apple is negotiating to lower prices for TV shows on iTunes, but so far has been unsuccessful at convincing media partners. Much is unknown about the iPad market since the device hasn't even been shipped yet.
Netflix made news this week with the announcement of a free iPad app that would allow subscribers to watch unlimited streaming content on the device. The application will be available on the App Store on launch day, April 3. Other media outlets are planning to support free streaming video on the iPad at launch, including ABC and CBS.
Hulu is a joint venture of NBC Universal, Walt Disney and News Corporation.