LOS ANGELES -- Online video site Hulu, under pressure from its media company parents to generate a profit, has launched a subscription service with access to older episodes of popular television shows.
More recent episodes of the shows will remain free on Hulu's ad-supported website. But for $9.99 a month, subscribers can get the entire current season of "Glee," ''The Office," ''House" and other shows from broadcasters ABC, Fox and NBC, as well as all the past seasons of several series.
The new site is initially available by invitation only on computers, Apple Inc.'s iPad and iPhones and certain Samsung Blu-ray players and TVs. It's coming soon to Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3 and some of its TVs and Blu-ray players, and there are plans to launch on Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox early next year.
"More wherever. More whenever. Than ever," the company says in an explanatory video.
The long-awaited move should be a boon to Hulu's corporate parents: News Corp., General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal, The Walt Disney Co. and Providence Equity Partners.
The paid section will show the same number of ads to viewers as on the free site, but it has more content available. Subscribers can watch shows in high definition -- at up to 720p, compared with 480p for free. Automaker Nissan Motor Co. and Anheuser-Busch InBev SA are advertising partners for the launch.
Keeping ads helps keep the monthly subscription fee low, Hulu CEO Jason Kilar wrote on Hulu's blog.
"For our end users, we're offering them the most convenient way to access their favorite shows, on devices they love, in high definition, at a fair price," he wrote. "For our content partners, we offer revenues that compensate them fairly for bearing the cost of producing the shows we love."