Rumor: Hulu Soon to Be Available Only to Cable and Satellite Subscribers

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Bad news, people who don’t want to pay for cable or satellite TV — “sources” are telling the New York Post that Hulu might start requiring authentication to stream content. That means unless you’re a paying cable or satellite subscriber, the days of free Hulu shows may come to an end.

This is reportedly part of TV Everywhere, an initiative by major cable providers to make their programming available online — a well-known example of TV Everywhere being HBO Go from Time Warner (our parent company), which lets HBO subscribers watch shows on their tablets, phones and devices like Roku and Xbox 360.

(MORE: Watching TV Without Cable? Fine. But You May Have to Pay for Cable Anyway)

According to the Post‘s sources, the proposed move is a major reason why Providence Equity Partners pulled its cash out of the project after being investors for five years. Why would Hulu want to make a deal that would anger a longtime investor and a good deal of its huge user base?

You might want to ask NBCUniversal, News Corporation and the Walt Disney Company, all major stakeholders in the company. Recent studies showing that streaming can, in some cases, cannibalize traditional TV viewership probably don’t help assuage television executives’ fears that people will start abandoning cable for free online content.

Hulu pulled in $420 million in revenue last year through ad sales and subscriptions to its premium Hulu Plus service, which costs $7.99 a month. The Post speculates that if the deal does go through, the conversion to an authentication model could take years to implement.

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