Hulu drops its free video service

One of the online pioneers of streaming video, Hulu’s dropping its free tier to focus on its paid-only services.

Hulu, co-owned by Disney, Fox, Comcast, and (with a recent investment) Time Warner, has been offering as its main specialty episodes of recently-aired TV shows, mainly from over-the-air networks. However, there’s been plenty of streaming video changes since its 2007 debut, thanks to rival streaming service Netflix taking off.

There’s also Amazon Prime to compete with, as well as an ever-increasing number of other streaming services (such as CBS All Access). Thus, Hulu’s been trying to make itself look more and more attractive. This includes increasing its own original content. It’s also tried making exclusive deals, as well as obtained a lot of content that was once on Netflix or Amazon.

Hulu does plan to offer some free videos, both through Comcast as well as via a recently made agreement with Yahoo. Otherwise, its free streaming days are now over. Never mind, as the Hollywood Reporter pointed out, Hulu’s made it harder to even get to their free videos in the first place; their default page hides everything behind a registration page for its paid service.

I’ve long suggested Hulu as one of the go-to services, along with Netflix and/or Amazon Prime, for those cord cutting or cord shaving. Its pricing won’t change with this; it’s $8 for the usual standard service (with ads), or $12 for their premium ad-free service.

Whether this will encourage people to sign up for Hulu remains to be seen. Hulu has 12 million customers, compared to (as of early 2016) over 75 million subscribers for Netflix, and an estimated 54 million customers of Prime (as of late 2015).

Do any of you use Hulu’s free or paid tiers? What do you think of these changes in their service?

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