Hulu to End Free Streaming Service

Access to free fare to continue via new ‘Yahoo View’ offering (Updated)
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Hulu confirmed that it will close down its free streaming service in the next couple of weeks as it applies more focus on its subscription services and a live TV service that's slated to debut next year.

Ben Smith, Hulu senior vice president and head of experience, first revealed Hulu's plan to bid adieu to the free offering in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, telling the pub that it's a "low trafficked product.”

"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," he told THR.

Hulu’s free service has been relegated to the web site, offering a sampling of shows, and did not support other streaming platforms, including TV-connected gaming consoles and streaming players, that Hulu supports for its subscription offerings.

However, free, ad-supported access to some Hulu content will live on via Yahoo View, a free TV-viewing site that launched today with Hulu on board as its “preferred partner.”  Yahoo View this fall will offer five episodes of original series from ABC, NBC, and FOX, but not until eight days after a show was originally broadcast on TV, along with access other network sitcoms, day-after clips, and full seasons of anime and Korean drama.

News of Hulu’s coming transition away from a free product comes soon after Time Warner Inc. agreed to acquire a 10% stake in the company, and join existing co-owners The Walt Disney Company, 21st Century Fox and Comcast/NBCU.

Hulu has about 12 million SVOD subs in the U.S., and recently added an advertising-free tier. It plans to launch a live-streaming service early next year.

Update: Separately, The Kudelski Group announced Monday that, due to its agreement with RPX Corp., as well as Hulu LLC’s membership with RPX Corp., all pending patent litigation between Hulu and The Kudelski Group will be dismissed. Financial terms were not disclosed.