Hulu Finally Challenges Netflix With Ad-Free Streaming
Redoubling its challenge to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, Hulu is finally offering an ad-free version of its Internet movie and television streaming service.
On Wednesday, the big-studio-backed Hulu announced that users can now watch movies and shows without commercials for $11.99 a month. Since 2010, the company has offered a for-pay subscription service, and though this included fewer ads than the company’s free service, it still included ads—much to the chagrin of some Twitter-happy American consumers. “I’ve heard all the arguments for it, but I’d never pay for Hulu and still sit through ads. Nope,” one North Dakota woman wrote on Twitter this spring.
Now, she doesn’t have to. And those with existing subscriptions can upgrade to the new ad-free version for $4. The move puts Hulu in more direct competition with Netflix, whose popular internet streaming offering operates as an ad-free subscription service. Netflix is used by about 40 million Americans, Hulu by around 9 million. Amazon also offers ad-free streaming as part of its Prime service, where people pay $99 a year for free shipping on retail orders.
Perhaps not too coincidentally, Hulu announced earlier this week that it had agreed to offer movies and shows from the cable network Epix, whose deal with Netflix is ending. Today, Epix offers such high-profile films as Hunger Games: Catching Fire, World War Z, The Wolf of Wall Street, and the Rocky movies.
Founded in 2007, Hulu is a joint venture from Comcast’s NBCUniversal, 21st Century Fox’s Fox Broadcasting, and Walt Disney’s ABC—i.e. the old guard of TV and movies. Comcast, which also runs the country’s largest cable television operation, is perhaps the biggest rival to Netflix, and is the company with the most to lose as Americans “cut” their cable cords in favor of streaming services. Like so many others, the cable giant realizes it must change with the times.