While Hulu’s free model is going away they will retain their $7.99 with ads/$11.99 without ads models for paying users, whose service will not be changing. Furthermore, Hulu’s free model is essentially being shifted over to Yahoo for what is being called Yahoo View, which will largely operate as usual.
There are a few takeaways from this.
Firstly, for those who want free, legal anime streams, the net effect will probably not be terribly noticeable. Essentially the net number of free providers is not changing for many people. In addition, there is a benefit in that Yahoo View is going to allegedly have more backend support for social media integration such as discussion, posting gifs, etc. For anime fans, staying connected and a part of the wider community is always a huge boon, because it keeps us from becoming isolated.
Secondly, it would appear that Hulu is confident enough in its paid business model to completely sever the free to use option from its brand. While certainly some could argue that this is a terrible, awful, nasty idea, and while in many cases I would agree (free users tend to drive sales, contrary to what many large businesses believe), there is something to be said for existing entirely as a paid streaming model. Netflix has never maintained any sort of free version of its services and is an industry juggernaut. Hulu has ads, but also has more up to date programming and is (like many streaming providers) beginning to grow its own stable of original content.
Overall, it seems more like a shift on an accountant’s spreadsheet more than a major tectonic shift in the industry… except for one very serious element.
Yahoo View will not be available outside the U.S.
For overseas fans, of which there are many, this is devastating news. The loss of legal options to view streaming anime only further criminalizes fans and forces them to pursue other means to be a part of the community. Most likely this has something to do with international licensing rights, and hopefully it is just a temporary issue rather than a long-term one. The Yahoo Finance article mentions that Yahoo View will launch “immediately” in the U.S., but gives no other indication of when/if other areas will be covered. Nevertheless, I hate that huge swathes of fandom may now have to use illegal methods to enjoy the shows they like purely because of their geographic location. This makes for another set of shows that overseas fans will have to use less-than-legal streams to access.
Well, some of us have always been fans of secret rivers I suppose.
Alright Rogues Gallery, let me know what you think. Will this affect your viewing in a major way? Or is this announcement a complete shoulder shrug?