Coming This Summer: Hulu Plus, Free For You and Me


I guess prayer really does work, because for as long as I can remember, I’ve been asking the gods to make Hulu Plus free.

Hallelujah, it’s a miracle! My prayers have been answered. Well, sort of.

As you probably know, Hulu is the go-to source for last night’s episode of, well, just about everything. Unlike, say, Amazon or Netflix, which typically give you past seasons of TV shows, Hulu serves up current seasons of most network heavyweights: “The Blacklist,” “Once Upon a Time,” “Castle,” and so on.

You can enjoy this on-demand largesse for free–provided you watch everything on your PC in a browser. Not terribly convenient. If you want Hulu on, say, your Roku box or mobile device, you have to subscribe to Hulu Plus.
That will change somewhat starting this summer, when Hulu will offer “a selection of ad- supported full TV episodes on mobile devices— for free.”

This is cool news, especially for cord-cutters of the world (or at least the country). Now you can plunk down with your phone or tablet and binge-watch the latest episodes of “The Mindy Project” and “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” You’ll have to sit through a few commercials, yes, but that’s true of all iterations of Hulu–free and paid.

I do wish, though, that instead of giving away the store to mobile devices, Hulu was making Plus content available to Roku boxes, smart TVs, and other big-screen accoutrements. Frankly, I don’t watch a lot of TV on the go–usually because I’m driving and it’s not courteous to my passengers.

Still, maybe if this is well received by the mobile crowd, Hulu will open the floodgates to the couch crowd. If nothing else, it’s a step in the right direction: making Hulu Plus totally free on every device.

I’m not saying $7.99 per month is too much for a Plus subscription, though it’s hard to reconcile that when you still have to watch commercials. The ads are supposed to pay for the programming, right? So why am I still paying 8 bucks?

Anyway, it’s an interesting move on Hulu’s part, really the first major change to their model in recent memory. I can’t help wondering if it was motivated in part by Amazon’s recent (and awesome) addition of HBO Go programming to its Prime service.

For now, it’s not clear what shows Hulu will offer for free, when the promotion will kick in, or how long it will last. Me, I’m hoping to catch up on some “Nashville,” y’all.

What are your thoughts on Hulu’s maneuvers? Will you check out the mobile stuff?

Or are you still turned off by the commercial interruptions? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Veteran technology writer Rick Broida is the author of numerous books, blogs, and features. He lends his money-saving expertise to CNET and, and also writes for PC World and Wired.


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