Hulu’s model is changing, and the its original viewing format will be most affected. As shared by The Hollywood Reporter, the streaming service plans to remove its free, ad-supported option from its website and mobile apps in favor of its two paid tiers.
The free version of Hulu served as the platform’s moneymaking model when it first launched in 2007, but that format’s role has been slowly diminished over the past nine years. A paid version of Hulu, originally dubbed Hulu Plus, launched in 2010 with limited ads. In a move that foreshadowed Hulu’s preference for paid subscriptions, the “Plus” was dropped from that service’s name in 2015, signifying a more united Hulu brand. Later in 2015, the launch of a more expensive tier gave viewers the ability to remove ads entirely while watching videos on Hulu. The former subscription option currently costs $7.99 per month, while the latter bumps the monthly price up to $11.99.
While Hulu will soon prompt its viewers to sign up for subscriptions (and offer them free trials) if they wish to keep watching videos, its free library is not going away entirely. The streaming service has struck a deal with Yahoo that will bring thousands of free, ad-supported TV episodes to a new portal dubbed Yahoo View. The launch of View serves as Yahoo’s attempt to rebuild its video operation after selling to Verizon last month.
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“We’re trying to get the best digital content in front of our users,” Yahoo VP and Head of Media Partnerships Phil Lynch told The Hollywood Reporter. “This is Hulu content. We are the eyeballs and the distribution platform.”
Hulu’s decision to further depreciate its free tier should come as little surprise to observers. As the online video has trended away from ad-supported content in favor of subscription-based services, Hulu has stashed much of its content behind paywalls, including all of the original programming it now delivers to its customers. There were still many people who consumed Hulu’s free videos, but the need not fret; for the time being, it seems as if Yahoo has them covered.