For those who have been enjoying Hulu, one of the biggest online streaming site, this is not so good news for you. The company announced that it would be ending free online streaming for users and switching over to a subscription-only service.
According to them, the subscription service is going to be free of ads so that users can enjoy their shows free of interruption. That is what Hulu is offering users in exchange for paying money.
I don’t know about you, but when I used to spend quite a bit of time on Hulu, I wasn’t really bothered about the ads. I mean, I took it for granted that since it was free, ads would be needed to support the service. That is how it should be.
I think Hulu, should have kept the free option plus ads for users to make a choice. But then, this is me talking like a socialist. The executives at Hulu must know a thing or two about maximizing profits. So I guess they do know what they are doing.
This is what a spokesman for the company said in a statement:
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.
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.”
One could be safe to think that this new move by Hulu is due to pressure on the management of Hulu. This pressure of course would come from the different owners of Hulu. That is Walt Disney, 21st Century Fox, Comcast and Time Warner.
Actually, Time Warner is the latest entrant into the ownership structure of Hulu. It was just last week that Time Warner paid almost $600 million to own just 10% of Hulu. Is it a coincidence that canceling the free service came shortly after Warner bought a stake in Hulu? Your guess is as good as mine.
The Yahoo Connection
The Yahoo angle is another part of this deal that makes it a bit confusing.
The latest news from Yahoo as far as online entertainment is concerned is the launch of a service known as Yahoo View. Yahoo View aims to give users the chance to watch some of the best shows on TV for free, with a little caveat.
The free shows on Yahoo View are restricted to only five current episodes of the shows eight days after they were original shown.
Here is the part that Hulu fans would love. Yahoo View also supports Hulu. So fans of Hulu who hate paying money for Internet TV can move over to Yahoo View to watch the shows for free. But of course, the ads would be there too.
It is not far-fetched to believe that the deal between Yahoo View and Hulu is all part of the restructuring going on at Yahoo following the agreement to sell the company to Verizon last week. This could be Verizon’s way of taking Yahoo back to the top again. Or it could be a means to get more ads revenue from the partnership with Hulu.
After all, it a known fact that free online TV equals more eye balls and more eye balls are the advertisers opium.
Apart from the ads viewers of Hulu through Yahoo view would see, another downside of Yahoo View is that it is only restricted to the web version. I can imagine a lot of people getting hot under the collar because of that fact; fact been that many folks watch Hulu on their smartphones only.
However, Yahoo is promising that a mobile app and a mobile version of Yahoo View would be made available sometime in the future.
image credit: theverge.com; variety.com; YouTube