Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Streaming service Hulu, after, nearly 10 years of offering a dream collection of classic and recent TV series like The X-Files, Farscape, and Once Upon a Time for free, is finally eliminating its free service and converting into a completely subscription-based model.

The big changeover pretty much hits you in the face the first time you enter, as you are quickly offered a choice as your first step into the new Hulu; that choice being between an $8 monthly plan that includes ads in your video watching, or a $12 plan that removes the advertising altogether.

Hulu Senior VP and Head of Experience Ben Smith tells the Hollywood Reporter, “For the past couple years, we've been focused on building a subscription service that provides the deepest, most personalized content experience possible to our viewers. As we have continued to enhance that offering with new originals, exclusive acquisitions and movies, the free service became very limited and no longer aligned with the Hulu experience or content strategy.”

The Hulu service, co-owned by Disney, Fox, NBC Universal (and latest shareholder Time Warner), launched back in 2007 beginning with free streaming of old TV shows and clips. But with the sudden competitive landscape of online streaming due to its biggest rival Netflix, Hulu has been forced to start a subscription service in 2010 – which now has 12 million subscribers – while the free content became increasingly downplayed and marginalized. As of late, the cream of the crop for free Hulu became the five most recent episodes of a currently running-on- air series, which becomes available some eight days after showing on TV.

All is not entirely lost for free viewers however. Thanks to a partnership with Yahoo – which is still smarting from the end of its abortive Yahoo Screen service six months ago – which is pretty much the original free Hulu supported by Yahoo ads and featuring show highlights on Yahoo-owned Tumblr.

In a press release regarding the new service, Yahoo View is described as "the extension of Yahoo's long-standing distribution partnership with Hulu and will offer thousands of TV, anime, Korean drama and movies including full episodes, films, and clips for free. This further emphasizes Yahoo's commitment to create an experience for people to consume content they care about while being able to connect with a community of like-minded fans."

So that probably sounds fine and dandy, save for certain limitations. Yahoo View is so far available only on desktops and laptops, with no news on when a mobile version will launch. And if you happen to be living outside the US, then the point is moot anyway as Hulu has never been available to you even then.

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