Hulu Plus: Not worth it. Yet.

July 14, 2010: 1:45 PM ET
The video streaming service's new premium model lacks the chops to justify its monthly fees.

As a writer and hopeless Internet addict, I probably spend more time in front of my laptop than I'd like to admit, banging out articles, reading blogs, instant messaging co-workers and friends, and viewing media. Whereas the average American now spends an estimated 34 hours a week in front of the television, it's fair to say I spend at least double that in front of a computer screen. And don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have it any other way. But all that quality time has made me rethink my media consumption habits. Now, I watch a good chunk of my TV via Hulu, and after a reported 813 million unique Hulu streams in May, I'm clearly not alone in that regard.

Launched in March 2007, Hulu, owned by News Corp. (NWSA), Disney (DIS) and NBC Universal, positioned itself as a one-stop hub that streams some of my favorite past and present shows -- some so trashy I refuse to name them -- while I go about my online business. And because it was free, I was more than happy to overlook Hulu's glaring shortcomings: the ability to only view the five most recent episodes of any viewable currently-running show, 30-second or so commercial breaks, and a laughable movie selection that makes Netflix Instant, with its own finite catalog, look downright completist in comparison.

When Hulu announced Hulu Plus, I wanted it. Bad. More shows to choose from! Entire series runs! And perhaps most exciting for someone like me who's tethered to some computing device at all times: mobile apps! So what if there was a monthly fee of $9.99? Who cares if I looked like a social deviant watching reality TV streamed to my WiFi iPad via Verizon MiFi on the way to work? I could finally "cut the cord," cancel my crappy Cablevision subscription, and live off Hulu and Netflix. More

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