Faster Forward: Hulu Plus coming to TiVo, Roku boxes this fall
Hulu Plus--the still-invitation-only, $9.99/month service that Hulu launched this summer--will bring its catalogue of current and vintage TV shows to TiVo Premiere digital video recorders and Roku's Internet media receivers sometime this fall.
On TiVo's $299.99 Premiere and $499.99 Premiere XL DVRs, Hulu Plus will join an array of name-brand video sources, built around streaming services from Amazon, Netflix and Blockbuster. But Hulu Plus may also seem redundant to TiVo owners who maintain pay-TV subscriptions--the whole point of buying a TiVo and paying its monthly fees has been making it easy to catch up on shows you missed.
For viewers who have been thinking of dumping their cable or satellite subscriptions, Hulu's upcoming arrival on Roku's $59.99, $79.99 and $99.99 players may be bigger news.
Roku been more aggressive than TiVo at signing up Web content partners--for example, it added MLB.tv last summer--and its players also don't require any monthly fee.
Hulu Plus is already available for Apple's iPhone and iPad, some Samsung HDTVS and Blu-ray players, and Sony's PlayStation 3 game console. It's supposed to come to Sony and Vizo TVs and Blu-ray players this fall--which is also when Hulu, partially owned by NBC Universal, News Corp. and The Walt Disney Company, expects to open the service to the public. Hulu Plus will then arrive on the Xbox 360 early next year.
But what about two of the most-hyped Internet-video-on-TV solutions, Apple's revived Apple TV and Google's Google TV software? Getting shut out of Hulu Plus could set back both products.
But Apple's $99 box looks more vulnerable, thanks to its limited menu of content sources. Without the $10/month option of Hulu Plus, buyers of the Apple TV will be looking at renting individual (commercial-free) episodes at 99 cents each off the iTunes Store--and they'll be limited to Fox and ABC series for now, as other networks have yet to take Apple up on this deal. For everything else, they'll have to wait until shows make their way to Netflix's streaming catalogue later on.