Hulu makes some mobile video free, but no full episodes

Following its announcement of a new CEO, Hulu shifts to let anyone watch clips on its mobile site, after previously making mobile video off limits to all but paying subscribers.

Getty Images

Hulu, the streaming site owned by three of the big four broadcast networks, will let anyone watch video on mobile devices now. But don't look forward to catching up on the latest full episode of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." on your iPhone unless your willing to pony up.

A post on Hulu's blog said that it is making selected Hulu clips available on mobile browsers. The company describes it as "a daily portal of what's going on in TV, pop culture and news" with a stockpile of clip content. It's free with ads, doesn't require a login, and makes clips shareable on social networks.

Previously, Hulu held back mobile viewing as bait for paid Hulu Plus memberships. Though paying subscribers still have to watch ads, they see fewer of them and get access to some shows earlier than nonsubscribers, in addition to being able to watch on mobile and other devices.

The half measure means Hulu isn't penalizing freeloaders on the go, but neither is it poking its paying subscribers in the eye.

The fact remains that anyone who wants to watch ABC or NBC full programs on their phones can download the networks' apps. Fox's app has full episodes for people who have a pay-TV subscription with certain companies.

The mobile change is the first notable shift in Hulu's traditional behavior since it announced a permanent CEO last week . Mike Hopkins, the president of distribution for Fox Networks Group since 2008 and has been a Hulu director since 2011, replaces Andy Forssell, a longtime Hulu exec who served as acting CEO since March.

Hopkins' hire, following a big investment from Hulu's owners instead of a sale of the company, have put Hulu on an even keel with a designated captain at the helm, but what that means for the site's future was still foggy.

Hulu operated under a cloud of uncertainty for much of the last year during an attempted sale by its owners -- 21st Century Fox, Comcast's NBCUniversal, and Walt Disney -- and a stream of top executive departures.

The owners ultimately decided to infuse ad-supported Hulu and subscription service Hulu Plus with $750 million , after they aborted the effort to sell the site -- again. The parent companies had attempted a sale in 2011 as well.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

CNET's Christmas Gift Guide

'Tis the season for a gadget upgrade

Check out these 9 tablets you'll want to bring home for the holidays.