Hulu has long been known for their free-streaming TV shows, which was part of the service’s main draw since 2006. Unfortunately, the company has announced that they’re pulling their free TV service in favor of expanding benefits for subscribers.
Ben Smith, Hulu’s SVP and Head of Experience, spoke about the decision to become a subscription-only service. He said:
“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.”
Fortunately, Yahoo has extended their partnership with Hulu and will be picking up where Hulu left off with a new website called Yahoo View. Beginning this fall, Yahoo View will offer thousands of full episodes and clips of TV shows, anime, Korean dramas and movies. The service will feature content from Hulu and include the last five episodes of ABC, NBC, Fox and other network sitcoms eight days after the original episodes air. The titles aren’t too shabby either. Expect to be able to watch major TV shows like Scandal and Empire without needing to spend a dime.
Yahoo View also caters to fandoms. Viewers can engage in a community-watching experience which lets you browse pictures and gifs shared on Tumblr. The site’s “Beyond The Episode” section can block content that reveals spoilers about current episodes and offers a picture-in-picture viewer so you can watch the show and look at all the content at the same time.
According to Yahoo’s VP of Lifestyles Product, Jess Lee, this is only the beginning of a fully immersive, community-driven, TV-watching experience.
“As a TV junkie and Tumblr fan myself, I’m personally excited to have one place that brings together the best of free TV and Tumblr fandom,” he said. “Yahoo View is our first step towards creating a powerful community TV-watching experience, but it’s really only the beginning.”
Phil Lynch, VP and Head of Media Partnerships, also spoke about the deal with Hulu.
“Video is an important part of Yahoo’s strategy, and we’re committed to delivering the best digital video content to our users. To date, we’ve streamed amazing experiences across sports, finance and news. This partnership with Hulu is a natural extension of that strategy, bringing the best of TV & entertainment content to our lifestyle vertical,” he said.
It will be interesting to see how Hulu ups the ante after it ditches its free services. Netflix, which is Hulu’s main competition, has never catered to free users and only offered a limited trial. Unfortunately for those of us who utilized Hulu’s free streaming, when Yahoo acquires something, quality usually falls to the wayside. Yahoo notoriously lacks trendy, groundbreaking content and sort of functions like your grandparents who just got the Internet for the first time. Even a service as great as Tumblr is struggling to maintain users after its acquisition, but Yahoo View will be free, so can we really complain?