Yahoo Is New Home to Hulu’s Free Streaming Service

‘Yahoo View’ will feature Hulu’s ad-supported catch-up TV service.

In a move that Hulu hopes will propel it forward in the US SVoD market, Hulu is eliminating its free ad-supported service and adopting an all-subscription business model.

Hulu’s free tier, which is stocked with a limited assortment of movies and primarily a few recent episodes of broadcast TV shows has been a staple in the company’s business since the beginning and was a tool used for influencing users to subscribe to its paid tiers, offering only enough content to get users watching then letting them down by limiting the content they have access to.

Hulu’s subscription offerings include a $7.99 per month plan with commercials and a commercial-free option for $11.99 per month and the company has decided to shift its focus specifically to its paid subscription tiers to compete with the likes of Amazon and Netflix; the two SVoD services it trails behind in the US.

“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,” said Hulu SVP and head of experience Ben Smith in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”

Within the past few years Hulu has been buying cancelled network TV shows, picking up where they left off and continuing production then offering the series exclusively on Hulu, such as it did with “The Mindy Project” and “Community”. Hulu has been making content streaming deals that give it exclusive rights to popular network TV shows like recently Showtime’s “Homeland” and the “American Crime Story” series from FX which includes the series’ first season and one of the most watched new shows on TV, “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”. Plus Hulu is investing in original content for the platform; it has a slate of originals including “Casual”, “Difficult People” and “11.22.63”.

Plus Hulu has announced its plans to launch a live TV service that will offer linear TV channels, which it can get from its parent companies that include Disney, 21st Century Fox, Comcast and now Time Warner, which just bought a 10% stake in Hulu; live local TV stations are slated to be offered on the service as well. The Internet TV service will be similar to Sling TV or PlayStation Vue and is expected to launch sometime next year but Hulu has not released any details such as the name, release date, packages or pricing but we anticipate the offering being competitive in the Internet TV space considering Hulu’s ties to both a pay TV provider and networks.

Yahoo Offering TV from Hulu

But Hulu’s free programming isn’t disappearing for good, it is just finding a new home that is better suited to offer free TV and that place is Yahoo, which has freshly been acquired by Verizon mainly for its video assets, and now Yahoo is adding more.

The TV viewing site is being called Yahoo View and similar to Hulu’s free tiers, is offering the five latest episodes of an assortment of TV shows eight days after the original broadcast dates from networks like ABC, FOX and NBC. So viewers utilizing Hulu’s free programming will still have access just through a different platform but thousands of episodes of TV shows, movies and niche content including anime, Korean drama, British and Latin American content will be available on the platform, according to a press release from Hulu.

Yahoo View is being taken one step further by integrating the blogging platform Tumblr with the service. Tumblr is home to many TV show fandoms and many TV shows have official Tumblr blogs, so users will be able to easily jump between Yahoo View and Tumblr while watching their shows. The platform is offering a section for picture-in-picture viewing so viewing and surfing Tumblr can happen simultaneously, essentially creating a combined first and second screen experience for viewers that want it. And since Yahoo View is targeting cord cutters and a large portion of those being Millennials and young demographics the integration of Tumblr is more relevant than if the service were targeting older demographics.

Yahoo View is currently available for desktop computers but the company says it will be available for mobile Web and apps for iOS and Android in the near future.

The transition to a subscription-only model for Hulu is another example of how Hulu has been adjusting its business to remain competitive in the US streaming SVoD landscape…

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Feature image: Still from Hulu’s original series “11.22.63”.