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Hulu Drops Free TV and Movie Streaming, Yahoo Picks it Up

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As if Hulu and Yahoo aren't busy enough these days. Hulu announced last week that Time Warner is coming in as an owner, paying $583 million for 10 percent of the company. And Yahoo announced in late July that it's being acquired by Verizon for $4.8 billion.

Despite the changes at both companies, the two have announced free streaming plans that show how they plan to evolve. Hulu has offered a free streaming tier since it launched in 2007, but that will come to an end in the following weeks. Hulu charges $7.99 per month for ad-supported streaming and $11.99 per month for ad-free streaming. Given that advertisers have limited options reaching premium online video viewers (since Netflix doesn't carry ads), it's surprising that Hulu's free tier wasn't a success.

But Hulu's free tier isn't so much disappearing as migrating. Yesterday, Yahoo announced Yahoo View, a free TV streaming site that will begin offering Hulu content this fall. Viewers will be able to watch the most recent five episodes of programs from ABC, NBC, and Fox eight days after they air, as well as other TV shows and movies. The site is available through a desktop browser at launch, but Yahoo will create mobile and connected TV apps in the near future. Due to licensing restrictions, they likely won't have the same content options.

Yahoo View will also highlight photos and GIFs from Yahoo-owned Tumblr, adding social sharing to the viewing experience.

Yahoo's scattered online video efforts haven't been a success so far (it invested over $100 million in its Screen portal before shutting it down in January), so perhaps this will give the company the focus it needs.

If not, perhaps Crackle—which still offers free, ad-supported premium content—will be the real winner here.

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