SAN FRANCISCO• On Monday, Yahoo announced that it is becoming a commercial partner to Hulu, launching a portal that will offer some Hulu shows for free in the United States.
The site, known as Yahoo View, is already live and, starting in the autumn, will offer up to the last five episodes of popular shows from networks such as ABC, NBC and Fox.
It also promises films and Korean dramas.
Yahoo also plans to pull show- related content from Tumblr and make it accessible to users of the site.
After years of serving the Internet thousands of shows for free, Hulu is cutting off support for its no-cost streaming video service. To keep watching, viewers will either need to start paying for a plan or go through one of its commercial partners.
Hulu's decision to terminate free streaming is a major step as it tries to gain more traction against other streaming video heavyweights, such as Netflix, YouTube and Amazon. Together, those three account for nearly 57 percent of all Internet traffic consumed in North America during peak hours. Hulu's share stands at a measly 2.7 percent.
By switching to a subscription- only model, Hulu becomes a lot more like Netflix. Customers will be asked to buy into either the US$7.99 (S$10.78)-a-month tier, which still shows advertisements, or the US$11.99-a-month tier, which eliminates advertisements.
When Hulu first opened for business in America in 2008, it was the free, ad-supported streaming that put it on the map.
Alongside Netflix, Hulu helped introduce millions of people to the idea of watching TV on the Web, paving the way for the current explosion in apps that provide video "over the top" of people's Internet connections.
Yahoo View joins other partners, such as Comcast, that offer an alternative way to watch Hulu for "free" apart from Hulu's main site.
But Yahoo is going to have the overwhelming majority of Hulu's free content, whereas other Hulu partners simply offer a selection.
In addition, Hulu, which has a 12 million-strong subscriber base, has said it intends to launch a live TV service this year.
WASHINGTON POST, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE