Hulu facing free show cull as "virtual cable operator" plans considered

Hulu is reportedly facing a cull on its free content, with Fox and ABC both considering pulling some of their shows in an attempt to make more money through paid subscriptions. According to the WSJ's sources, Hulu's management may reposition the service as an "online cable operator" which would use IPTV to deliver live TV and video-on-demand, similar to channel bundles currently offered by cable and other operators.

Meanwhile, ABC has reportedly been covertly building a Hulu-style content delivery service for which it could control any subscription element. While it's unconfirmed whether the system will commercially launch, it's expected to mirror the shows Hulu offers, potentially undermining Hulu's position in the market.

Should Hulu go ahead with the virtual cable proposal, some element of free-to-view service is expected to remain, but it's not clear whether it would be to the same extent as is currently offered. Hulu Plus, the subscription-based side of Hulu – which offers broader access to back-catalogs of shows – might be folded into the new proposal as well.