Hulu officially brings free short clips to mobile devices

Short clips from the Daily Show, Saturday Night Live and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, as well as a number of other shows, are now available for free on Hulu‘s website if you access it from a mobile device. It’s an important change of policy for Hulu, which previously only let paying subscribers view its content on mobile, and it comes months after Hulu unofficially opened the mobile video floodgates.

Hulu senior product manager Karan Nischol called the new mobile offering “a curated collection of TV’s best moments, hand-picked and crafted by our editorial team” Wednesday. Mobile users can access the clips without signing into, but access to full episodes of Hulu’s shows on mobile devices continues to be reserved for paying subscribers of Hulu Plus. There is also a whole lot of advertising for the paid offering on the free mobile site, and mobile clips come with the typical pre-roll ad.

The decision to promote Hulu Plus with free clips makes sense for Hulu, and it’s not a surprise to anyone who has been following the company closely. In the last couple of months, Hulu has been quietly giving partners access to these clips on mobile devices. The first offering to play free Hulu content on mobile was NextGuide, which started to incorporate some 18,000 Hulu clips into its app some ten months ago.

Back then, I said:

“We tend to think of (Hulu) as a way to catch up on last night’s TV show episodes, not as something that helps TV highlights go viral. If Hulu embraced that part of its business, it could easily generate many millions of additional views.”

Hulu didn’t say Wednesday how many clips it is making available through its mobile sites, but it’s safe to assume that the offering comes with a similar catalog size.