Comcast Explains (Sorta) Its Position on Whether Hulu Should Have a Pay Tier

Dec 3, 2009  •  Post A Comment

There was some confusion this morning as to what Comcast’s position is about making any part of Hulu a pay service. Recently, one of the Hulu partners, News Corp’s Deputy Chairman, Chase Carey, said that was likely in the cards.

Here’s what Comcast COO Steve Burke said during a conference call this morning with the press. Peter Kafka of All Things Digital asked Burke to explain Comcast’s position on Hulu.

Steve Burke: We think the way NBC Universal is distributing its video content on the Internet is very consistent with the way we would do it. In other words, lots of broadcast content on Hulu, being very careful about the cable content that’s going out on the Internet for free, and look at things like TV Everywhere to control how that content goes out.

We start from the premise that during the year it’s going to take for this deal to be approved, NBC Universal is highly likely to be doing exactly what we would do. Once the deal is approved we’d want NBC Universal to continue to do what it needs to do to maximize the value of its content on the Internet.

I got asked the question after I said that, on our investor call [earlier today], do you have any plans to make Hulu a premium content service. And I said, ‘That’s not in the cards.’ What I meant by that is that that’s not our decision. We’re not coming into this with any pre-conceived notion. NBC Universal is a minority partner of Hulu. We hope they will continue to run Hulu successfully because it’s an important asset. For the next year those are their decisions. I actually think Hulu and TV Everywhere are highly complementary.

When pressed about what he would think about Hulu having a premium tier, Burke then punted to NBCU CEO Jeff Zucker, who said "The product roadmap for Hulu is not something that we want to publicly talk about. Obviously there are a number of things Hulu is looking at. Whether or not subscription is something that makes sense is something that we will look at in the months ahead." 

–Chuck Ross

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