Hulu is finally joining competitors Amazon and Netflix in offering ad-free video streaming, albeit at an extra cost to ad-averse subscribers. As reported by The New York Times, the video streaming service is splitting its existing subscription service into two tiers: an ad-supported version that costs roughly $8/month, and an ad-free version that costs $12/month. (Its free version, also called Hulu, will continue to exist alongside its premium subscription options.) The split has been rumored for months, with a July Wall Street Journal report nailing both the potential price and release date of Hulu's ad-free tier.
The company's decision to split their premium business into two different options is arriving in the midst of a major drive for new content — and a subsequent increase in complaints about the service's mandatory commercials. Hulu nabbed the exclusive streaming rights to Seinfeld in April, and it has placed greater emphasis on original content this year with shows like Difficult People and the revived version of The Mindy Project. New viewers accustomed to other ad-free services were undoubtedly in for a rude awakening the first time they had to sit through a block of ads they couldn't skip. By giving people the option to remove ads through paying a higher price, Hulu is trying to have its cake and eat it too: satisfy new customers, maintain its relationship with advertisers, and make a little more money, all in one fell swoop.
"There are clearly people who just are not going to buy Hulu because there are ads," said Hulu chief executive Mike Hopkins. "We think we can bring them back into the fold with new content and this new choice."