Hulu Plus hits Roku, drops subscription price

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This morning brought some good news to Hulu Plus subscribers and potential subscribers.

First, the service has arrived on the Roku Streaming Player. That means a $60 Roku will deliver Hulu Plus, Netflix Streaming and Amazon VOD, as well as a host of other services, to your living room TV.

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Hulu also says that updated apps are coming to devices with existing support (Samsung web-enabled TVs, the Sony Playstation 3, Apple iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch) within the next week, and in the next few months they'll launch Hulu Plus support on "Internet-connected Vizio, LG Electronics, and Panasonic Blu-ray players and HDTVs; TiVo Premiere DVRs; the Xbox 360; and Western Digital’s WD TV Live Hub Media Center and WD TV Live Plus Network Media Player, with many more mobile phones, tablets, set-top boxes, and Internet-connected devices to be announced."

Additionally, they've dropped the monthly price from $9.99/month to $7.99/month, and this price drop is retroactive. Current subscribers will get a $2 credit for every month they've been subscribed. This price drop of course brings the cost down to the same as Netflix's new streaming-only membership plan. Hulu Plus still has ads, of course, but they get content much earlier than Netflix.

Last, there're a few ways to check out Hulu Plus for free. They're now offering a 1-week free trial for anyone interested in the service. If an existing subscriber refers you (from http://www.hulu.com/profile/referrals) you both get two weeks free. (Expect to see some Twitter and Facebook spam from this: the referrals page has a "Share on Twitter/Facebook" feature. Apologies to my followers for my test tweet this morning!) You get 11 weeks of free Hulu Plus if you buy a Sony BRAVIA connected TV or Blu-ray player through January 31, 2011 (see http://www.sony.com/huluplus), and lastly, a month of free service when you buy a Roku player (see http://www.roku.com/hulu).

Full details on all the changes can be found on the Hulu blog. Of course, my list of caveats still apply, with the possible exception of the performance issues. Hulu seems to be improving the quality of service and this upcoming round of app upgrades might fix them completely – we'll have to wait and see.

And yes, Hulu is still only available in the US.

Peter Smith writes about personal technology for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @pasmith.

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