Hulu’s days offering free streamed TV, the main attraction when it launched in 2006, are about to end.
The joint venture backed by Comcast, Disney, Fox and Time Warner said today that it’s becoming a subscription-only service. Fans still will be able to watch the free content on Yahoo via a new site — Yahoo View — launched today in conjunction with a deal extending its distribution partnership with Hulu.
“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 Ben Smith, Hulu’s SVP and Head of Experience. “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.”
Hulu has more than 11 million paying subs and plans a live streaming service for early 2017.
The disclosure comes in conjunction with a separate announcement about the Yahoo agreement, Beginning this fall, it will offer thousands of TV, anime, Korean drama and movies including full episodes, films, and clips for free. Featuring content from Hulu, the last five episodes of ABC, NBC, Fox and other network sitcoms will be available eight days after the original broadcast, along with day-after clips, and full seasons of anime and Korean drama.
Titles include Scandal, Empire, One Punch Man and Sungkyunkwan Scandal. Viewers can also go beyond the episode in a community-watching experience and browse photos and GIFs shared by fans on Tumblr. The new site also features a “beyond the episode” section that can block the enhanced content that might reveal spoilers about the video currently playing and picture-in-picture so viewers can continue to watch while browsing to other content without leaving the screen.
“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,” said Jess Lee, VP Lifestyles Product at Yahoo, “Yahoo View is our first step towards creating a powerful community TV-watching experience, but it’s really only the beginning.”
Said Phil Lynch, VP and Head of Media Partnerships: “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.”