Subscription-based Hulu Plus is now official
So, Hulu Plus is finally official. After all these months of rumors, invites will start rolling out soon (sign up here) with a new batch of invites sent every week. The rumors had the pricing right ($9.99/month). For that, you'll get full access to a bunch of current shows (Hulu lists 40 but adds "and more" to that list) as well as complete series collections of some older titles such as The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the wonderful and mostly-ignored Eli Stone. HD content sources will be streamed at 720P but Hulu mentions that the service is ad-supported.
So that's the what of the service, now let's talk where. You can access Hulu Plus from your computer of course. Also Samsung internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players. Right out of the gate there will be support for the iPad, iPhone 3GS or newer, and iPod Touch 3rd generation or newer. The Playstation 3 is listed as "Coming Soon" and is mentioned specifically in Hulu's blog post. So I guess I have to eat my words there. When Hulu didn't mention the Xbox 360, Microsoft's Larry Hyrb wasted no time in putting up a blog post assuring us that the 360 will get Hulu Plus sometime early in 2011. Lastly, starting this fall Sony and Vizio internet-enabled TVs will get the service.
Devices not mentioned include the Android platform, Nintendo Wii, and set top boxes like the Roku or Tivo. The invitation sign-up form does ask users if they own these devices so it's possible support for them will be coming later on down the road.
So, Hulu Plus is real and it costs about the same as Netflix's lowest "unlimited streaming" tier ($8.99). Hulu Plus has more current content, but overall less of it. Hulu Plus has ads, Netflix doesn't. So would you choose Hulu Plus or Netflix? Or both? Or neither. Hulu.com will still be there providing free recent episodes; maybe that's enough? Please share your thoughts in the comments!
[Update: The iPad & iPhone apps are now available, though they don't do much without a Hulu+ subscription. So it looks like you'll need to pay for Hulu+ in order to watch anything on your iPad (and, one would imagine, all other supported devices.]