Hulu is pulling the plug on its free streaming service after focusing for the past couple of years on shifting customers to its subscription service. The Wall Street Journal reports that the “last nail in the coffin” is a new deal licensing the content to Yahoo.
“Over the next few weeks, Hulu says, it will phase out its free offering, which until now has allowed people to watch the most recent five episodes of several ABC, NBC and Fox shows for free, after an eight-day delay,” WSJ reports. “Viewership of free Hulu has declined and relatively few Hulu visitors today stream those episodes. As Hulu has beefed up its subscription offering with originals like ‘Casual’ and library deals for big titles like ‘Seinfeld,’ it has promoted those on its site, making the free episodes increasingly difficult to find.”
Hulu “launched its subscription tier in 2010 and then began offering a higher-priced ad-free service last year,” the report notes. “The company is now in talks with TV channel owners to create a virtual cable TV service with live channels and on-demand programming that would launch next year.”
Yahoo, meanwhile, will make the Hulu free content the centerpiece of a new TV watching site, Yahoo View. TechCrunch notes that Yahoo and Hulu have had a long-standing partnership, with the new arrangement having been in the works for about six months. TechCrunch and Yahoo are both owned by Verizon.
“While Yahoo now has the status of ‘preferred partner,’ it’s not an exclusive distribution partner — Hulu content is also available through a number of other sources, including Comcast, and on websites that carry its player, like People.com, EW, New York Magazine, and others,” TechCrunch notes.
“What’s interesting about Yahoo View, however, is that it’s not just a Yahoo-branded web portal for watching Hulu,” the TechCrunch report adds. “The service is also tied into the Yahoo-owned blogging platform Tumblr. The site is known for being an online home to a number of TV fandoms, where users blog and reblog clips, photos, GIFs as well as follow the official blogs from the show itself. Now it will be easier to jump into Tumblr when watching your favorite shows, via Yahoo View.”