Within days Hulu will begin sending emails to Hulu users who stream their free ad-supported content, informing them the almost ten-year-old service will soon end but offering a free trial of their paid subscription product Hulu Plus. The news was announced by the company today, along with plans to move the free programming to Yahoo’s new streaming TV hub Yahoo View.
The Yahoo View homepage now promotes free TV shows featuring titles from Hulu such as “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” “Master Chef,” and “The Bachelorette.” The shows play with commercial interruptions within the Vudu player, and don’t require users to be logged in.
Hulu has been inching towards this end for several years now. The homepage of hulu.com has been leading visitors towards a subscription sign-up page, rather than to their free ad-supported programming that remained behind the scenes. And, some devices such as iPads have only been able to access paid Hulu accounts.
“As we have continued to enhance [their subscription service] with new originals, exclusive acquisitions and movies, the free service became very limited and no longer aligned with the Hulu experience or content strategy.” said Ben Smith, Hulu Senior VP and Head of Experience.
Hulu currently has two subscription rates: limited advertising for $7.99 per month; and commercial-free for $11.99 per month. However, several shows are excluded from streaming ad-free including Grey’s Anatomy, Once Upon A Time, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Scandal, New Girl, Grimm, and How To Get Away With Murder.
The service only streams up to 720p resolution, which is behind the times if compared to competing services Amazon and Netflix that are streaming some content in 4k, and even some titles with HDR.
Hulu is jointly-owned by 21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal Walt Disney, and minority shareholder Time Warner.