“Why does my Hulu subscription have commercials?” the Hulu Help Center shouts to the heavens, its will finally broken after seeing the same goddamn Trivago ad pop up in four consecutive episodes of Seinfeld. “Many shows on the Hulu subscription include commercials in order to reduce the monthly subscription price of the service,” The Help Center responds, answering its own question with a bit of circular logic before getting into the real meat of the deal: It costs a lot of money to make and license a TV show, and up until very recently, most of that money came from advertising. There’s a very good reason they call it “commercial TV,” a reason Hulu will further illuminate after three video messages from its sponsors.
But that could all change: The Wall Street Journal reports that Hulu is looking into adding an ad-free option to its subscription services. Sources cited in the article say Hulu customers could soon pay $12 to $14 to skip those Geico commercials designed not to be skipped, a move that would align the streaming-video platform with its “presented without commercial interruption” rivals Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video.
That could prove to be an uphill climb with the media conglomerates who own Hulu, though. 21st Century Fox, Disney, and Comcast have all seen the ratings for their broadcast holdings crater in recent years, as more viewers cut cords, hoard programs on DVRs, and otherwise avoid hearing things straight from Hannah’s horse’s mouth. Hulu is ostensibly a place where networks can make up for that lost revenue, while their viewers remain accustomed to the occasional intrusion from bite-sized chocolate candies that cause confusing sexual feelings.
Perhaps the key to this initiative’s success is its purported in-house codename: NOAH, or “No Ads Hulu.” If someone at Hulu says, “We’re picking up NOAH,” maybe Disney will think they’re talking about the made-for-TV movie starring Tony Danza as a modern-day ark-builder, while Hulu buddy Viacom might mistake it for Darren Aronofsky’s movie about the Noah-era Noah.