Hulu will begin streaming ad-supported TV shows to mobile devices for free, CEO Mike Hopkins said at a conference in New York City Wednesday. Previously, Hulu’s free service was only accessible through the desktop, although subscribers to Hulu Plus were able to stream TV on mobile.
According to a post on the Hulu blog, the free streaming on mobile will start this summer. The specific shows that will be available weren’t mentioned, and Hopkins added that mobile device streaming will require new licensing deals.
Hulu currently offers between five and 12 recent episodes of recent shows for free through a desktop browser, with fuller libraries unlocked through a $7.99 monthly Hulu Plus subscription. According to Hopkins, Hulu Plus now has 6 million subscribers.
Bringing content to mobile platforms has been a slow process for Hulu. Initially, all mobile content was locked up, but in December 2012, it started to make its short non-episode clips available through other apps, like NextGuide. Eventually, last October, it finally gave users access to free mobile clips, the first time any Hulu content was available for free through its mobile apps. Earlier this week, Hulu introduced a feature that allows users to cast shows to an Xbox, PS3, or PS4 from a smartphone.
Hulu also tipped a few new types of advertisements. The most interesting is called an “in-stream purchase unit,” which, when it launches, will let users order a pizza from Pizza Hut without leaving the Hulu “environment.” There’s also something Hulu calls “360 ads,” which will enable advertisers to serve mobile users interactive ads.
Hulu will launch “the next generation” of its iPhone app along with free episodes of TV later this summer.