Hulu Drops Free TV and Movie Streaming, Yahoo Picks it Up
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.
Prior to launching its skinny bundle service, Hulu makes a plea to families by adding scores of movies from Disney studios.
When consumers have access to an almost unlimited supply of premium content, surfacing programs they'll enjoy becomes a major challenge.
Investing in the future of streaming media and pay TV, Time Warner spends $583 million for an equity stake in Hulu in an all-cash transaction.
Subscribers will soon be able to view live and on-demand content in one place; 70 percent of Hulu viewing now done on a TV screen.
Live video is still a priority on Yahoo, as the site will stream 180 games for free. All 30 MLB teams will be shown in April's matchups.