LOS ANGELES (AP) - Hulu Plus, the $10-per-month online TV subscription service, will soon be available for users of Roku Inc. set-top boxes and TiVo Inc. subscribers who purchase its newest Premiere digital video recorders.
Hulu Plus, which launched as an invitation-only service in June, lets people watch current and back episodes from more than 45 shows from ABC, NBC and Fox, including “Modern Family,” “Glee,” and “30 Rock.” Hulu Plus episodes, like the more limited selection available from the free Hulu website, are interrupted by short commercials.
The for-pay Hulu service will be available later this fall on all three of Roku’s Internet video players. The devices, which start at $60, connect to a home network using Wi-Fi or an ethernet cable. Roku says it expects to have sold 1 million set-top boxes by the end of the year.
Hulu Plus will also be available to TiVo Premiere DVR subscribers in the coming months. TiVo customers pay an extra $12.95-a-month fee for updated TV listings and services or $399 for a lifetime subscription. Hulu Plus will only be available to buyers of the Premiere DVR for $299 or Premiere XL for $499. The company said it had 2.4 million subscribers at the end of July, down from 3.1 million a year earlier, but it did not disclose how many were users of Premiere models.
The subscription version of Hulu was developed in part to boost profits for its media company parents: News Corp., General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal, The Walt Disney Co. and Providence Equity Partners. The free version of Hulu generated more than $100 million in 2009 from advertising revenue, and it expected to post a third consecutive profitable quarter for the April through June period.
Hulu Plus is already available on certain Samsung Electronics Co. TVs and Blu-ray players, Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 3 and Apple Inc.’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The service is expected to launch on Sony and Vizio Inc. TVs and Blu-ray players this year and on Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360 early next year.
_ Ryan Nakashima, AP Business Writer
Google gives Gmail users more control over inboxes
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Google Inc. is addressing one of the biggest complaints about its free e-mail service by giving people more control over how their inboxes are organized.
The new option announced Wednesday will allow Gmail users to choose whether they prefer their incoming messages stacked in chronological order, instead of having them threaded together as part of the same electronic conversation.
Gmail has been automatically grouping messages by topic or senders since Google rolled out the service six years ago.
But this so-called “conversation view” confused or frustrated many Gmail users who had grown accustomed to seeing all their newest messages at the top of the inbox followed by the older correspondence. After all, that’s how most other e-mail programs work.
The complaints grew loud enough to persuade Google to revise the Gmail settings so users can turn off conversation view and unravel their messages.
“We really hoped everyone would learn to love conversation view, but we came to realize that it’s just not right for some people,” Google software engineer Doug Chen wrote in a Wednesday blog post.