Hulu Plus: Who Needs It, Who Doesn't

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Online video service Hulu Plus is open for business, but will a nation of couch potatoes be willing to spend $8 a month for shows readily available on cable and broadcast TV? The premium service isn't for everyone, certainly, but some sofa spuds may find it worthwhile.

5 Reasons to get Hulu Plus:

You don't get cable. More Americans are dropping their cable and satellite TV subscriptions, relying instead on Internet streaming to deliver a comparatively limited menu of video entertainment. (I'm one of them.) Hulu Plus offers shows from three of four major TV networks. Cable-cutters who spend most of their TV time watching prime-time programs from ABC, NBC, and Fox should give Hulu Plus a try.

You can't get broadcast TV: If you've cut the cable, over-the-air TV is a great (and free) alternative. But some digital channels may not reach your abode. Provided you've got a reasonably fast high-speed Internet connection, Hulu Plus is your ticket to all the "Dancing with the Stars" you can stomach.

You're a TV fanatic: Today's network shows don't satisfy your video cravings. No, you need more-lots more. How about a premium service that lets you watch 58 episodes of "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," or 5 seasons of "21 Jump Street?" Hulu Plus does.

DVR be damned: Why record your favorite TV shows when they're always available on Hulu Plus?

You watch TV on a mobile device. Hulu Plus currently runs on a limited selection of mobile hardware, including Apple's iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The arrival of 4G networks and additional (Android) tablets from numerous manufacturers will create even more platforms for the premium video service.

5 Reasons to Pass:

Just another monthly bill: Sure, it's only $8 a month...but if you're paying for cable or satellite TV, Hulu Plus pretty much duplicates what you're already getting.

It's incomplete: CBS shows? Sorry. Live sports? Nope. And you can forget about Viacom shows such as Comedy Central's popular "The Colbert Report" and "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart." If you want comprehensive programming, Hulu Plus isn't ready for primetime.

Your Internet connection is too slow: Hulu Plus streams in high-def (720p) resolution, but a super-slow broadband link won't cut it. If you need to upgrade to a faster connection to run the service, the added expense will limit the savings associated with canceling cable TV.

You really, really hate commercials: Yes, TV shows on Hulu Plus come with commercials. You can't fast-forward past them either.

Netflix is good enough: Netflix offers video-streaming for $8 a month, and it has a comprehensive catalog of TV shows and movies. Hulu Plus' TV vault is deeper, though.

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci) or at

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