Netflix is currently the biggest streaming service in the market with around 83 million subscribers. That is an intimidating number and its competitors are gearing up to give Netflix a fight for its top slot: the recent partnership between Yahoo and Hulu is a step in this direction. It is clear that both Yahoo and Hulu have decided to take on Netflix together, as both of them have media behemoths backing them. While Verizon has acquired Yahoo’s core business for $4.83 billion, Hulu was started by media barons, and Time Warner has also bought a 10% stake in Hulu for $583 million recently. Now, in light of these recent events, what can a streaming service subscriber like you expect from this new team?
Yahoo and Hulu have recently floated their own free streaming service called Yahoo View. All the content that is currently available with the free Hulu subscription will now be available on Yahoo View. Yahoo View will predominantly focus on offering TV show episodes to its subscribers, but they will also be able to watch a variety of videos and content from Tumblr on this streaming service. In fact, Yahoo View is the only service at the moment that offers access to both movies as well as television shows available on Hulu.
This leads to the next obvious question – if all the content from Hulu is available on Yahoo Live, will that not make Hulu redundant? The simple answer is – Yes. And this is the reason why Hulu is pulling the plug on its free streaming service. Subscribers will soon be left with only the premium Hulu Plus services — they can either go for the $7.99 monthly plan with limited commercials or the no commercial plan of $11.99 per month. The management at Hulu thinks that the company has always tried to offer richer and more personalized content to their subscribers, and over the years, the free service has become very limited, which is not something Hulu believes in offering to its customers.
So, how will this move impact the current lot of subscribers? The ardent Hulu fans, who watch TV shows regularly on the free Hulu plan, may understandably not welcome this move for obvious reasons. But, for a casual viewer, this change of plans will not really make much of a difference. Hulu does not really offer a great variety with its free subscription. There are only a limited number of television shows like South Park, America’s Got Talent, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and a few more, available with the free version. The five latest episodes of these shows are what you can enjoy on Hulu now. These are also only available for a week after they are aired on live television. So, it’s quite apparent that taking the free Hulu service will not really have any big impact on most of the subscribers, because they weren’t enjoying any kind of exclusive programming anyway. The die-hard fans of the service should also not feel abandoned, because Yahoo View will be offering all the content that was previously available on Hulu for free as well.
Yahoo and Hulu are pushing to make Yahoo View a sort of ultimate destination for cord-cutters to come to get their TV fix. Apart from the free Hulu shows, it will also feature a lot of ad-supported popular television shows. Both the companies are trying to create a brand in the market and they want people to identify Yahoo View as the television of the internet.
It appears that Tumblr will help them get the word out. The social media platform boasts of 550 million users a month and over 280 million blogs, and it was acquired by Yahoo for a whopping $1.1 billion in 2013. Yahoo is definitely going to encourage people to share their favorite shows and other offerings on their blogs. Netflix, on the other hand, does not have such a huge social media tool in its arsenal.
So, as a cord-cutter, you should be happy that another streaming service is entering the market. The big investors behind the service will ensure that you get a lot of great content to watch, mostly for free. As for Hulu, it will now focus more on the 12 million paid subscribers that it has. You can expect it to put all of its energies on increasing that number by way of more original programming and a bigger content library. As a consumer, you will certainly be a winner.