Hulu Might Lose the Best Reason to Pay for Hulu

Time Warner Hulu

With all the streaming and subscriptions services out there for various movies and TV programming, it seemed that users were starting to gain an edge over the cable companies that have overcharged them for years. However, one of the more prominent streaming options may end up pulling the rug out from viewers, and it’s all thanks to one of the most sinister cable companies around.

News surfaced today that Time Warner is currently considering purchasing 25% of Hulu. That doesn’t sound bad right? Maybe that means their network HBO would start putting content on Hulu, and Warner Bros. Pictures and Television would start adding their movies and TV shows to the streaming service? Nope. Instead, Time Warner wants to buy part of Hulu so they can stop the service from steaming network and premium shows the day after they air on television. Shit just got real.

The report comes from The Wall Street Journal (via Polygon), and here’s the relevant part of the Time Warner Hulu story:

Time Warner believes that the presence of full, current seasons on Hulu—or anywhere else outside the bounds of pay-TV—is harmful to its owners because it contributes to people dropping their pay-TV subscriptions, or “cutting the cord.”

In the discussions about taking a 25% equity stake in Hulu, Time Warner has told the site’s owners that it ultimately wants episodes from current seasons off the service, at least in their existing form, although that is not a condition for its investment, according to the people familiar with the discussions.

That last part is important. This isn’t a firm decision, and even if Time Warner does ultimately end up landing 25% equity share of Hulu, they may not force them to get rid of next-day streaming. Surely the corporation is smart enough to see that making a change like that will end up hurting Hulu as a whole and they’re going to just end up making their investment worth less. But then again, if they cripple Hulu with a change like that, people will be forced to flock back to cable to be able to keep up with their favorite shows.

This just goes to show you how much services like Hulu and Netflix are hurting cable companies. They’re doing so much damage that the only option they have is to buy a share of the company and destroy what makes it good. Maybe Time Warner just needs to figure out a way to adapt with the times and start offering a la carte cable options instead. That’s where the market is heading anyway with all the streaming channels and apps that are in the market.

In the long run, this kind of move by Time Warner would just be a small speed bump on the rough path to the inevitable time when the cable company has to restructure their cable business model. The times are changing, and it’s about time Time Warner joined us in the 21st century. Eight-track tapes are never coming back, and soon cable subscriptions will just be a thing of the past. Deal with it, and stop messing with my entertainment options.

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