While Amazon may boast critical darlings and Netflix has a seemingly endless amount of original content, Hulu has always had something other streaming giants don’t: a free library.
Well, not for long. The platform is closing the doors on its free TV option, which is supported by ads, not member subscription fees, and offers both television and movies. The offerings were limited, and largely consisted of the five most recent episodes of a current show, which are also usually available on broadcaster’s websites for free. Hulu plans to offer a free trial period of the paid subscription tier for members who have been using the free one and will be alerting customers of the shift over the next few days.
This marks a significant departure from Hulu’s founding mission, as the free aspect has been part of its model since the service launched nine years ago. But as Netflix continues to dominate and Amazon becomes a more formidable competitor (particularly as it invests more and more in original content), Hulu has been taking steps to mimic these streaming services.
“They’ve been pushing the subscription tiers and shuttling people towards the subscription tiers for a long time now,” said Steve Beck, a managing partner at consultancy cg42. “This clearly shows that they were not successfully migrating people from free to paid. They want to create a focus on paid, and not waste their time with a migration strategy.”
The platform launched a paid tier with fewer advertisements in 2010, and then last year, it began to offer a more expensive model that was ad-free. Later this year, in a move that Hulu hopes gives it an edge, the service will launch a live TV subscription, with content from owners Walt Disney, 21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal and Time Warner, which bought a 10% stake in the company last week.
Hulu wants to focus on promoting that and its subscription offerings, particularly as the free model has seen less and less use.
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SOURCE: Forbes, Madeline Berg