After nine years of offering free TV, Hulu is ending its free service and going entirely subscription-based, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The streaming service will begin letting customers know of the change within the next few days and offering free trials of a paid subscription to free-tier members.
Hulu, which is jointly owned by Disney, Fox, NBCUniversal and Time Warner, has been quietly phasing out free content for some time, as it started offering more original programming like The Path and Difficult People and expanded its archive of complete series of current and classic shows and movies, all of which are behind the paywall.
The free offerings were mostly limited to what's called the "rolling five" — the five most recent episodes of a currently-airing series. This episodes are generally made available eight days after airing (as opposed to hours after air for paid subscriptions), and are often available on the network's website as well.
Hulu is not completely doing away with free TV, however, as the "rolling five" will live on via the new streaming destination Yahoo View. Yahoo — which struck out with its own Yahoo Screen streaming platform — is expanding its distribution deal with Hulu, and will host the last five episodes of shows eight days after they air on ABC, NBC and Fox. Yahoo View uses Hulu's video player.
Essentially, Hulu's free content has moved from Hulu.com and its apps to Yahoo View, which launched today.
With 12 million paid subscribers currently, Hulu continues to lag behind its closest competitor, Netflix, which has about 47 million paid subscribers in the U.S.
Are you disappointed Hulu's free streaming service is going away?