Photo: Associated Press
Now that Hulu’s long-in-the-works “Hulu Plus” subscription service is finally here, what becomes of the other long-in-the-works service — Apple’s $30-per-month iTunes TV pitch?Hulu’s new service shouldn’t specifically throw a wrench into Apple’s plans, unless Hulu somehow coaxed its network TV owners — NBC, Fox, and ABC — to give it some sort of “Internet subscription exclusive” on its content.
After all, iTunes TV and Hulu Plus are different services going after slightly different markets — iTunes TV would likely be restricted to only Apple hardware devices, with deep hooks into other iTunes services, whereas Hulu Plus will be available on many consumer electronics devices.
And it seems logical that Apple would want to include some cable programming in iTunes TV — thus the 3X-bigger monthly fee — whereas Hulu Plus is broadcast-only.
But that doesn’t mean that it’ll be any easier for Apple to get its service out the door.
Even if Internet TV is the long-term future, it’s still going to be tricky for Apple to convince cable networks to cheat on cable affiliates like Comcast or Time Warner Cable, which provide the vast majority of their revenue.
Especially now that it has to package together something that is at least two or three times better or more useful than Hulu Plus.
And it’s still going to be tricky for Apple to get its Apple TV hardware/software just right, in a package that would be attractive to enough people for it to matter.
The existing Apple TV set-top box is a flop, and whenever a new one comes out — perhaps late this year, or early next year — it’s going to have to be a lot better and cheaper to become popular. (It may even have to be built directly into TV sets, the way Google TV is getting made.)
So it could take months or years before we actually see any of this, even though Apple was reportedly hoping to launch something early this year.
But Hulu Plus shouldn’t specifically get in Apple’s way.