The big news this week comes in the form of announcements from online services to require subscriptions or fees for certain content. YouTube and Hulu have been part of the talk, although Hulu’s fees are still rumored. Both follow the Wednesday news that The New York Times is planning a subscription program in which a limited amount of content would be offered free, but additional content would have to be paid for.
Boxee, also jumping on the “It’s time to get paid” bandwagon, says it plans to start charging for content this summer. The benefit though, according to Boxee, is that more content will be available from producers who don’t feel confident in an ad-supported environment. In addition, Boxee says the content owners will be able to sell by subscription or per-pay-view, whichever they prefer.
Boxee’s goal, according a company blog post, is to provide [the content providers] “with a way to monetize their content above and beyond the advertising-only model.” The company says they will charge a fee that is less than what Apple and Amazon charges providers.
YouTube and Hulu are also planning the move. YouTube will start offering rentals of films from the Sundance Film Festival (five total from 2009 and 2010) to viewers this weekend after the current festival ends. Hulu is rumored to put a $4.99 per month access fee for older content, and an LA Times article seems to indicate the web-based service may move to your TV.
Another LA Times article suggests that Boxee as well as Roku could get a boost from the adult industry, content that iTunes and gaming consoles Xbox and PS3 don’t offer.
Whether the fee-based content will fly is still up for grabs (we’ve seen attempts before), but with The New York Times leading the way to charge for content, expected to happen in 2011, we may find we’ll be able to get a little for free, but if a little isn’t enough we’ll have to start paying.