Hulu Kills Off Free Streaming Service, Goes Subscription Only

Once upon a time, TV was mostly a thing you watched for free, over an antenna. Commercials and corporate sponsorships made up the cost for networks. Then TV became cable. Then cable became your internet, and TV was once again briefly free, through streaming services with commercials. But then came subscription internet TV, and that’s where we are today, with Hulu finally pulling the plug on its non-subscription service.

As Variety reports, the ad-supported free service that millions of viewers have used to catch up on recent TV episodes has finally met its demise. Going forward, Hulu will only offer its two tiers of subscription service: $7.99 for the one with ads, and $11.99 for the commercial-free edition.

“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,” a Hulu exec said in a statement.

“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.”

In other words: We like making money, because we are a business, and viewers that watch without paying do not generate money, so we’re getting out of that business.

However, it’s not exactly the end of all the catch-up episodes: Hulu is also partnering with Yahoo to launch Yahoo View, which… is basically a purple Hulu. It’s an ad-supported streaming site that lets you watch the five most recent episodes of shows from NBC, ABC, and Fox about a week after their broadcast airing.

This of course is where it gets slightly more complicated, because Yahoo is well on its way to becoming a part of Verizon. And Verizon, of course is in competition with other streaming services — including Hulu, which is partially owned by Comcast (along with three other media companies).

It’s probably a safe bet to assume that media ownership, and who streams what where, will only continue to get more complicated as the 21st century marches on.

[via Variety]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.