Since its launch in 2007, Hulu has been best known for its vast library of free television shows, but the site will now make a huge leap as it transitions to a completely paid subscription site. The company is owned jointly by Walt Disney, 21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal, and Time Warner. They currently have 12 million subscribers.
Current free television viewers on Hulu will be notified of the change this week, with an offer of a free trial of paid subscription. Hulu currently has two tiers of subscriptions including the $11.99 level that is ad-free that launched last fall. They are also preparing a new live TV service for next year.
As Hulu has focused more on original content behind the paywall, their free service has become low-trafficked product. The site also recently announced the end of its agreement with The CW to show recent episodes of the network’s series, which will now drop in bulk on Netflix shortly after the end of the season. The “rolling five,” or five most recent episodes of the shows make up the bulk of Hulu’s free library. These episodes are also usually available on the series’ home network’s site as well.
“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,” says Ben Smith, Hulu Senior VP. “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 free library won’t disappear completely but will now move to distribution partners like Comcast. Yahoo and Hulu have also closed a deal for Yahoo to have distribution access to the the rolling five and the rest of the catalogue for their upcoming launch of streaming TV hub Yahoo View. It will be Yahoo’s newest attempt at a streaming service since shutting down Yahoo Screen. Yahoo View will launch using Hulu’s video player and will run ads sold by Hulu’s sales team. Yahoo View is also working to become a hub for fandoms that form around television series.
Emily J | Staff Writer