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Hulu for iPad Likely to Be a Paid Subscription Service

Last week, a report that video site Hulu might be making its way to the iPad generated a significant amount of interest, with many users excited about the prospect of free access to television content on Apple's forthcoming tablet device. MediaMemo reports, however, that iPad access to Hulu is more likely to come as part of a paid subscription package than as free access like the computer-based version of the site.

Hulu and its owners -- three of the big broadcast TV networks -- want to bring some version of the Web video service to Apple's device.

But the most likely scenario is one where access to Hulu on the iPad comes as part of a subscription package, multiple people familiar with the company tell me.

Hulu has in the past noted that it is looking for a way to introduce paid content to its offerings, and today's report indicates that company executives may be thinking that the best way to achieve that goal while preserving the free experience for computer-based users is to charge for mobile-based content such as that which would appear on the iPad.

And while you could argue that the iPad isn't necessarily a mobile device, since 3G Internet access is an optional feature, Hulu and its owners are likely to classify it as one. Like many other content owners, the video service sees the device as an opportunity to charge for something it has been giving away for free on the Web.

Aside from the previously-documented hurdle Hulu faces with its current video player being Flash-based and Apple's mobile devices not supporting the standard, the company would also need to secure mobile rights from content providers before being able to offer such a service to the iPad and other mobile platforms.

Consequently, the report concludes that Hulu for the iPad is unlikely to launch alongside the device itself next month, but users can probably expect in some form, likely paid, in the future.