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PlayOn LogoMediaMall Technologies has started to inform PlayOn customers that it is moving to a yearly subscription model for its media server / content aggregation program.

The email says that PlayOn is launching a new product called "PlayOn Premium", which will be sold for $39.99 for the first year and $19.99 per year thereafter. The current version of PlayOn that carries a one-time $39.99 charge will no longer be offered to new customers.

Current PlayOn owners will be able to continue to use their version, which will be renamed PlayOn Basic. This version will provide access to all current content except for The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, which were moved to "beta" status when they were removed from Hulu earlier this year.

The mail said the two shows will move to the "Premium" version when "we launch full Comedy Central support in May". Also mentioned as being in the Premium version are "NHL channel , PBS,, and the many new content channels we plan to release during the coming year".

Previews of the Premium service content will be available between May 20 and July 15. Current PlayOn owners will be able to get the first year of PlayOn Premium for only $4.99 as a special promotion.

PlayOn joins Hulu in charging for access to Internet content. Reports surfaced last week that Hulu would start testing a $10 / month service that will provide access to more than five of the most recent episodes of shows it carries.

Text of the email from PlayOn follows below:

Hello PlayOn Customer,

There are some exciting changes coming to PlayOn. We wanted to take a moment of your time to review those changes with you and make clear what will happen over the next few months. PlayOn is launching a new product (called "PlayOn Premium") which will be sold for $39.99 for the first year and $19.99 per year thereafter (annual subscription plan). In conjunction with this, we will no longer be selling the current version of PlayOn to new customers. BUT, as a current customer that has already purchased PlayOn, you do not need to buy anything new. The PlayOn you have today will continue to work, continue to be supported, and require you to spend no more money. Your version of PlayOn (which we are calling PlayOn Basic) will continue to have all of the content you currently have with one exception: the beta versions of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report will be moved into the Premium version of the product when we launch full Comedy Central support in May. We released that portion of The Comedy Central content channel early (in beta) as a way to temporarily accommodate our customers after Hulu dropped those shows. We want to thank those of you that provided feedback and helped us to expedite a more stable version of this content channel.

As an early customer of PlayOn, you will have the opportunity to upgrade to PlayOn Premium at a Founding Member discount. If you OPT to move to PlayOn Premium, you will get the new Comedy Central channel, NHL channel , PBS,, and the many new content channels we plan to release during the coming year. As a Founding Member, you can get your first year of PlayOn Premium for only $4.99 (regularly $39.99). You will then be billed $19.99 after 12 months for your second year (and each year thereafter). You will need to continue to stay current on your subscription for PlayOn Premium to continue to work. If you opt not to renew your subscription after the first year, you can simply re-enter your original license code and return to PlayOn Basic (the same product you have today). It will continue to work and still support Hulu, Netflix, CBS, CNN, ESPN, YouTube, Amazon VOD and all of the channels it supports today (excluding Comedy Central). We want to stress that upgrading is 100% optional. You do not need to pay us another cent, and your PlayOn Basic will continue to work, but you will not receive future content channels.

As a PlayOn Basic customer, you will have access to previews of the Premium content between May 20, 2010 and July 15, 2010. These content channels will be marked (Premium Preview), and will give you a taste of PlayOn Premium. If you have not upgraded by July 15th, these Premium channels will disappear from your PlayOn. There is nothing for you to do prior to July 15th. You will be getting everything that PlayOn Premium subscribers get until July 15th. After July 15th, you will need to purchase an upgrade to continue to receive the Premium channels.

So in summary:

* PlayOn is moving to an annual subscription plan, called PlayOn Premium.
* Existing customers can keep the PlayOn they have today without paying any more money. All current content channels will continue to work and be supported for the life of the product (excluding the Daily Show and Colbert Report).
* Existing customers (anyone who purchased prior to May 20th, 2010) will be given the opportunity to upgrade to PlayOn Premium for $4.99 for the first year.
* Existing customers that upgrade can return to their current version (PlayOn Basic) after a year or be renewed at $19.99/year.
* As an existing customer there is nothing for you to buy yet. We’ll let you know when upgrades are available (some time in early July).
* As an existing customer, you will be able to watch ALL of the Premium content until July 15th, 2010 when you can choose to upgrade or not. If you do not upgrade (for $4.99), the Premium content channels will disappear from your version of PlayOn.
* As of May 20th all new customers (not you) will be required to purchase PlayOn as an annual subscription and pay an annual subscription fee for the product to continue to work.

Thanks again for your support. Exciting times are ahead for PlayOn and we’re glad to have you along for the ride.

The PlayOn Team

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