Apple released an update to their Apple TV set-top box that includes support for Hulu Plus. New users can sign up for a free one-week trial while existing members are invited to simply log in and start watching programming right away.
Apple Insider points out that Hulu Plus joins Netflix, MLB.TV, the NBA, NHL, Vimeo, YouTube, and WSJ Live as content providers on Apple’s streaming box but many might wonder why it took so long for the app to show up on Apple’s service. After all, Hulu Plus has been around for over two years at this point.
There are likely a few answers to this question, the first being that Hulu finally agreed to Apple’s in-app purchasing and subscription renewal model much like Netflix recently did. It’s highly plausible that neither company wanted to share any revenue with Apple but eventually the reward versus cost must have been too great to pass up.
Furthermore, Apple owns all of the customer data and billing information for anyone that signs up through Apple TV. As you can imagine, this is key marketing data for Netflix, Hulu or virtually any other company that offers a subscription-based service.
While Apple TV has been described by company executives as little more than a hobby, we pretty much all know that it’s leading up to something big: a television set from Cupertino. The iTV will likely inherit many of the same features as the set-top box which makes getting on board now a good idea for third party app providers.
And yet another reason why Hulu waited so long to join Apple had to do with ad support. There aren’t many apps on the Apple TV that serve ads, but there are a few. Advertising is a key asset for Hulu and they probably wanted to wait until the platform had matured enough before they signed an agreement.
At the end of the day, it seems like a fair deal for all parties involved. Hulu gets a wider audience to sell subscriptions to while Apple can tout more content and a small percentage of revenue from each subscription.