Hulu Abandons Free Service; to become Subscription Only
Hulu is ditching its free TV service, though it will still be available in a different form. Analysts believe the move was forced on it by the television industry.
Up until now, Hulu users had three options for streaming video online. The free, basic service let users watch many network and cable shows the day after broadcast - but only if users watched commercials. In most cases, the five most recent episodes of a show were available online.
Customers can also pay $7.99 a month for a "limited commercials" option, or $11.99 a month to cut out commercials altogether. Both of these paid options also give users a much deeper archive of shows, plus some original programming that doesn't air on TV. The paid options also include mobile app access, while the free service was for traditional web browsers only.
Yahoo View may be Replacement
The free Hulu service will disappear shortly, with registered users being offered a one-week free trial of both paid services. Rather surprisingly, a very similar 'free service with commercials' option will now be available on Yahoo View, which will in fact be "featuring Hulu." While this will also offer the five most recent episodes of shows, it's not yet clear if the range will be as extensive as Hulu. It will also be available through web browsers only, for now.
Hulu itself is planning a third paid service to launch next year that will offer live streaming of entire channels, rather than merely offering individual shows on demand. Similar attempts to offer such a service, effectively an Internet-only version of a cable TV package, have proven challenging for licensing reasons. One particular obstacle is that they rely on broadband connections that are usually provided by cable firms that also try to sell TV packages. (Source: recode.net)
TV Firms Want to Fight Netflix
Industry analysts think there's a couple of reasons why Hulu has decided to rethink its strategy. One is that the companies which produce many TV shows and own television networks simply don't like the idea of giving content away for free online.
Another is that the owners of Hulu -- which include many major TV companies -- want to make it a serious competitor to Netflix. They feel the only way to do that is through investing in more big-budget original programming, something they feel isn't possible until they can get a bigger subscriber base. (Source: forbes.com)
What's Your Opinion?
Have you ever used Hulu's free or paid services? If you're a free user, will this move push you towards a subscription or will you simply move over to Yahoo View instead? Will online video ever be a complete replacement for cable TV, or do issues such as cable carriers dominating the broadband market make this impossible?
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