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Hulu today announced that the company is ending the free, ad-supported tier of its streaming service and focusing on an all-subscription model that will more closely align it to rivals Netflix and Amazon Prime (via Variety). Hulu's free service -- which let users watch the most recent episodes of shows after they aired live on TV -- will still continue, but is being transitioned to a new platform called "Yahoo View," thanks to a distribution partnership between Hulu and Yahoo.

In the free-to-use site Yahoo View, users will be able to watch the five most-recent episodes of shows from networks like ABC, Fox, and NBC, but will now have to wait eight days after they originally air. Yahoo View will also provide clips previewing upcoming episodes and entire seasons of anime and Korean drama series. Users can expect Hulu's free service to be phased out "over the next few weeks."

yahoo-view-with-hulu.jpg

Hulu senior vice president Ben Smith said that the main reason behind the move was that the company's free service "became very limited and no longer aligned with the Hulu experience or content strategy." With the elimination of the ad-supported tier, users will have just two options to watch Hulu: its basic $7.99 per month service with commercials, or a higher-tier $11.99 per month option without commercials.
"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," Hulu senior VP and head of experience Ben Smith 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."
For now, Yahoo View is available only on the web, but the company said that mobile apps will be coming soon, although no release window was given. Since Yahoo shuttered its digital online video service, Yahoo Screen, earlier in the year, the acquisition of Hulu's former free content is expected to help bolster Yahoo's standing as a contender in the ever-expanding online streaming competition.

For Hulu, the move comes just under a week after Time Warner bought a 10 percent stake in the company to join Disney, 21st Century Fox and Comcast/NBC Universal as shareholders. Looking forward, Hulu is also prepping a live TV streaming service for sometime in 2017, which would add another subscription tier onto its streaming options with a service that focuses on quality over quantity, since the company "isn't looking to offer all the hundreds of channels found in the traditional cable bundle."

Article Link: Hulu Goes Exclusively Subscription-Based as Free Streaming Moves to 'Yahoo View'
 

jav6454

macrumors P6
Nov 14, 2007
17,209
2,281
1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
Hulu is idiotic, they single handedly killed their company. For starters, ads on a paid tier and they claim to compete with Netflix? I'd just rather pay straight up for Netflix and leave Hulu to the dust.

The free tier is how Hulu started and it should re-evaluate their core audience (college students and cord-cutters).
 

cerote

macrumors 6502a
Mar 2, 2009
843
269
Times change.

I pay for the "ad free" tier. Know how many ads I have watched since it started. None. Guess I just don't watch the like 5 shows that they fall into.

For my family it isn't a competitor for Netflix but compliments it. The two together we have plenty to watch with no need for cable.
 

TechZeke

macrumors 68020
Jul 29, 2012
2,391
2,123
San Antonio, TX
Hulu is idiotic, they single handedly killed their company. For starters, ads on a paid tier and they claim to compete with Netflix? I'd just rather pay straight up for Netflix and leave Hulu to the dust.

The free tier is how Hulu started and it should re-evaluate their core audience (college students and cord-cutters).
Using your logic, cable should also have no ads since you paying $80 a month.

Netflix also doesn't really have a lot of current stuff, and the licenses to get current stuff are expensive. For the same amount of people complaining about ads on the first paid tier, there would an equal number complaining if Hulu Plus' base price was $13-$15 a month.
 

nutmac

macrumors 603
Mar 30, 2004
5,320
4,866
Hulu is idiotic, they single handedly killed their company. For starters, ads on a paid tier and they claim to compete with Netflix? I'd just rather pay straight up for Netflix and leave Hulu to the dust.

The free tier is how Hulu started and it should re-evaluate their core audience (college students and cord-cutters).
In all fairness, cable and satellite, as well as relative newcomers Playstation Vue and Sling, are also paid with ads. Way more ads than Hulu in fact.

My guess is that Hulu was either obligated by the content producer to display ads (as to make cable and satellite not too horrible in comparison) and/or show ads due to high content cost.

As much as many bring Netflix as an example of ad-free service done right, let's keep in mind that Netflix has vastly smaller TV catalog and most TV contents are delayed by a whole season or more.

Having said all that, I am not exactly defending Hulu's strategy here. I frankly wish Hulu would offer even higher tier service ($20/month) with live streaming with ads (if content is broadcasted on cable or satellite with ads) and no ads whatsoever on non-live contents.

As for Yahoo View, good luck with 8 day delay and limited to only 5 recent shows.
 
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ke-iron

macrumors 65816
Aug 14, 2014
1,374
818
Netflix and Hulu are two different type of streaming service. Netflix doesn't have current tv shows while Hulu has a bunch of current tv shows with latest episodes, that's the major difference.
 

jav6454

macrumors P6
Nov 14, 2007
17,209
2,281
1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
Using your logic, cable should also have no ads since you paying $80 a month.

Netflix also doesn't really have a lot of current stuff, and the licenses to get current stuff are expensive. For the same amount of people complaining about ads on the first paid tier, there would an equal number complaining if Hulu Plus' base price was $13-$15 a month.

In this case, Hulu sold itself as a free (but ad sponsored) alternative to paying for cable. In other words, watch TV for free with just a weeks worth of lag. That is how it was started and what people actually wanted. Now we get a service that has to tiers, pay to view adds and pay to view no ads. Both involve no free tier which is what Hulu promised from the start.

In all fairness, cable and satellite, as well as relative newcomers Playstation Vue and Sling, are also paid with ads. Way more ads than Hulu in fact.

My guess is that Hulu was either obligated by the content producer to display ads (as to make cable and satellite not too horrible in comparison) and/or show ads due to high content cost.

As much as many bring Netflix as an example of ad-free service, let's keep in mind that Netflix has vastly smaller catalog and most TV contents are delayed by a whole season or more.

Having said all that, I am not exactly defending Hulu's strategy here. I frankly wish Hulu would offer even higher tier service with no ads whatsoever (much like HBO Now) with live streaming.

It does have a smaller TV based cataloge; however, Netflix originally is and was a movie based renting service.
 
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iShater

macrumors 604
Aug 13, 2002
7,016
448
Chicagoland
Most providers give you an ad-supported platform to watch stuff using the NBC/ABC/etc. app. Why would you use Hulu? I think i need to cancel my subscription.
 

ArtOfWarfare

macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
9,329
5,476
Using your logic, cable should also have no ads since you paying $80 a month.

Correct.

Are you aware of what cable companies do to justify what they charge? It's basically nothing. They run a cable out to your house and that's about all. Sometimes they have to fix it. They don't pay the companies that actually make the content - those companies have to collect what they can from ad money.
 

CrystalQuest76

Suspended
Dec 14, 2015
640
717
West Cost A Lot
This change in business practice with Hulu was a predictable eventuality.

I have been annoyed that when I try watching Hulu shows on my 2nd generation TV the shows often have problems running; from sound dropping and falling out of synchronization with video to crashing. However, those annoying viagra ads play just fine. But there are no playing problems on Hulu app on iPad and Mac desktop.
 

TechZeke

macrumors 68020
Jul 29, 2012
2,391
2,123
San Antonio, TX
Correct.

Are you aware of what cable companies do to justify what they charge? It's basically nothing. They run a cable out to your house and that's about all. Sometimes they have to fix it. They don't pay the companies that actually make the content - those companies have to collect what they can from ad money.

Exactly why I cut cable a while ago in favor of an Apple TV and my subscriptions. I don't watch a lot of TV to begin with, and I found I was most watching stuff on my iMac because of my subscriptions.

With that said, I love Hulu Plus and it compliments Netflix, crunchyroll, and iTunes fairly well.
 
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nagromme

macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
12,546
1,196
The networks want you to watch live, for max ad dollars. OK.

But the 8-day online delay means if you miss ONE live episode, you can never return and must switch permanently to the streaming version they'd rather you avoid.

What are they thinking?

6-day delay would serve their goals. Online would then still be "discouraged" but would serve to let people return to live viewing if they miss an episode.

Anyway... Yahoo View seems to look/work exaxctly like Hulu. I just tested and am able to watch current shows without even making an account. (Flash! Ugh. If a free-tier iPad app comes out of this, it will be welcome!)

P.S. I see Hulu still has free moves! 17 of them... http://www.hulu.com/movies/new/films
 
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jdillings

macrumors 68000
Jun 21, 2015
1,540
5,174
No great loss. They're going to be losing CW and Criterion soon so their service will be even more worthless. And their live tv streaming service that is due to launch next year will be dead on arrival. They will be charging you for the space you use on their cloud DVR and you won't be able to fast forward through ads in the programs you recorded. And their plans will cost double that of those offered by Sling TV and Playstation Vue. All this information has been revealed in surveys they've given to users.

So it seems very appropriate that a clueless streaming service (Hulu) is teaming up with a clueless internet portal (Yahoo).
 
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TechZeke

macrumors 68020
Jul 29, 2012
2,391
2,123
San Antonio, TX
In this case, Hulu sold itself as a free (but ad sponsored) alternative to paying for cable. In other words, watch TV for free with just a weeks worth of lag. That is how it was started and what people actually wanted. Now we get a service that has to tiers, pay to view adds and pay to view no ads. Both involve no free tier which is what Hulu promised from the start.

And things change. Free tiers don't really make money and they are a waste of time. Spotify's paid users are pretty much subsidizing the free tiers, for example.

Netflix is the most successful streaming service with no(zero, zip, nada) ad-supported free-tier. Almost every person I know has some access to a Netflix account, including college students. As a for profit company, free tiers are was a waste time, money, and energy. Private companies aren't charities.
 

nutmac

macrumors 603
Mar 30, 2004
5,320
4,866
Correct.

Are you aware of what cable companies do to justify what they charge? It's basically nothing. They run a cable out to your house and that's about all. Sometimes they have to fix it. They don't pay the companies that actually make the content - those companies have to collect what they can from ad money.
That is a grossly simplified statement.

I hate cable companies as much as the next guy, but the content producers charge a lot of money for distribution rights. For instance, Disney charges over $6/month to the cable company for just ESPN. Furthermore, Disney often requires cable company to bundle (at additional cost) less popular Disney contents for rights to carry ESPN. And let's not forget that it's these content producers that tackle commercials, not the cable company.

Heck, even free over-the-air local channels charge cable companies for distribution rights.

And in turn, cable companies require certain protections for agreeing to such term, which is why streaming services have ads, delays, and blackout for local sports team.

Furthermore, it is also why cable companies are buying contents left and right (e.g., NBC Universal and Comcast).
 

Rigby

macrumors 603
Aug 5, 2008
5,825
9,769
San Jose, CA
Most providers give you an ad-supported platform to watch stuff using the NBC/ABC/etc. app. Why would you use Hulu? I think i need to cancel my subscription.
The problem is that you still need a cable TV package to be able to authorize the apps. For me, Hulu has been great for two reasons:

- I can watch new shows without crappy commercials.

- It allows me to reduce my dependence on Comcast with their sh***y business practices: Being locked into multi-year contracts, limited-time "discounts" (which should really be the regular rates) with annual haggling to maintain a reasonable rate, making their offers as complicated and opaque as possible so people don't really see what they will pay etc. I now have an Internet-only rate and can use Hulu and others as I see fit without dealing with Comcast's customer support (which is worse than getting a root canal).
 

2457282

Suspended
Dec 6, 2012
3,327
3,014
As always, it seems to me, people confuse and lump together all the parts that go into this. First you have the ISP. they are simply the pipe to get the internet to your home. Most of them suck starting with Comcrap and then sucking less as you go down the list. Then you have the content providers - the folks that own the movies and tv shows we want to watch. These are TW, Sony, 20th Century, NBC, ABC, etc. These are the idiots that want to protect the old way of making money either through ads or through a ridiculous subscription fee that allows them to collect money for "subscribers" that never watch or even want to watch your channel. And then you have the aggregators like Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix (although they are all starting to create their own content). They really can only make money through a subscription for their aggregation services. There are many moving parts, each has a different interest and approach to making money that makes this very difficult. Until someone gets everyone on the same page and creates a new paradigm, it will continue to be a hot mess. What Hulu is doing is just an example of someone trying to figure this out on their own. Not sure it will succeed. Netflix is trying to abandon a lot of providers and create their own content as an approach -- again we will see if that succeeds. I was hoping that Apple would figure this all out, but with Eddie in charge of this, there is zero chance of that happening.
 

tedson

macrumors 6502
Jul 17, 2002
256
184
Correct.

Are you aware of what cable companies do to justify what they charge? It's basically nothing. They run a cable out to your house and that's about all. Sometimes they have to fix it. They don't pay the companies that actually make the content - those companies have to collect what they can from ad money.

Actually the cable/satellite providers pay carriage fees to the content providers (ESPN, TBS, USA, FX, etc) They sometimes don't pay fees to broadcast channels although that may be changing. They also bundle 50-80 crap channels that no one wants to fool you into thinking that they are giving you value for your money.
 

Makosuke

macrumors 603
Aug 15, 2001
6,383
685
The Cool Part of CA, USA
I subscribe to the ad-free tier so this doesn't directly affect me, but it does make me a little sad due to one specific niche market: Hulu has a lot of anime, frequently simulcast or close to it, and the free ad-supported tier meant that I could point cheapskate anime fans at Hulu and say "Here, you don't need to torrent a fansub or use some sketchy illegal streaming site; go to Hulu (or Crunchyroll, depending on the series), watch it for free, legitimately, in good quality, and support the industry."

Without a free tier, that's no longer an option (Crunchyroll I think still does have an ad-supported tier, and they've been expanding steadily, but their quality and UI is markedly worse). Maybe the income from the free tier was negligible, but I do hope it doesn't hurt the industry, and/or Crunchyroll picks up the slack.
 
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