Hulu may fire up its fee-supported service next week

Rumor has it that Hulu could begin quietly testing out its fee-supported service, called Hulu Plus, as early as next week. (If all the various content partners can agree to a mutually beneficial plan, that is.) For a service that we all know and love as essentially free, ad-supported television, what's in it for us to start ponying up cash?

In short, you're going to get two things out of the $10 Hulu wants you to toss down monthly. One of them is really cool, the other is a little worrying.

Let's start with cool, first: Hulu on mobile devices — think iPad — and possibly even on video game consoles such as the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. That means you'll have access to a pretty decent selection of movies, cartoons, anime and TV shows on the go. The downside? Channels such as CBS and ABC — the latter of which is, along with DVICE parent's company NBC Universal, a content provider for Hulu — have already pushed forth into the mobile realm with free apps of their own.

So, here's the worrying bit. The paid-for service is going to offer a deeper catalog that what you'll see for free. One has to wonder, though, if the free service will continue to be an equal focus, or even remain in the state it's in now. Right now, Hulu let's you watch the five preceding episodes of popular shows such as House and The Office, usually posted with some kind of delay. The point is, for most of us that's more than enough. To entice people to start paying for the service, wouldn't the current free offerings need to be slimmed down?

We'll have to wait and see what shape Hulu Plus takes once all the details are hammered out. We'd definitely like to see Hulu stick around, though asking for $10 a month — especially when we already give that to other comparable services such as Netflix — may be a bit too much.