In a push to complete the transition towards an entirely subscription-based business model, Hulu has announced that it will be discontinuing its free streaming service. However, the same free content will still be available on the newly launched website “Yahoo View“.
This announcement isn’t completely unexpected. Founded in 2006, Hulu made a name for itself by offering the ability to stream popular television shows online without any cost. However, as the service became more popular and the company grew bigger, Hulu began offering more incentives to subscribe to their premium service (originally known as Hulu Plus), including the ability to stream TV episodes the day after their original broadcast, as well as a larger catalog of television shows and movies.
A recently published article by Deadline had the news, as well as a quote from Hulu’s Senior Vice President and Head of Experience Ben Smith about why the free distribution model was no longer viable. According to Smith, the production of Hulu original series (such as “The Path”, “11.22.63”, and “Quick Draw”), as well as “exclusive acquisitions and movies” has led to the free service becoming “very limited”, adding that it is “no longer aligned with the Hulu experience or content strategy”.
However, as a result of a new distribution deal made with Yahoo, Hulu’s free programming will still be available to stream on Yahoo View, which was launched today. View will offer all the same features currently provided by Hulu’s free streaming service, including movies, TV shows, Korean dramas, and anime. Yahoo View also carries over the ability to watch five of the most recently released episodes of shows broadcast by networks such as Fox, NBC and ABC eight days after they originally aired. All the free content will include ads, just as it currently does on Hulu.
One of the new features exclusive to Yahoo View is “Beyond the Episode”, which allows viewers to watch trailers, recaps and behind the scenes clips from their favorite shows. It also allows users to view GIFs posted on Tumblr that are related to the shows they watch.
According to Yahoo’s VP of Lifestyles Product, Jess Lee, Yahoo View’s connection to Tumblr is the company’s “first step towards creating a powerful community TV-watching experience”.
While Hulu didn’t give an exact date for the end of their free streaming service, this announcement seems to suggest that it will be coming in the near future. Until then, both Hulu and Yahoo View are currently available to stream shows in the United States.