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Hulu Plus Offering Commercial-Free Option

2 Sep, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Subscribers willing to pay 50% more can stream without commercial interruption

Hulu Plus Sept. 2 announced that subscribers now have the option to stream content commercial-free for $11.99 a month — 50% above the current $7.99 monthly rate.

Hulu Plus is the only subscription streaming service that subjects viewers to spot ads. The service co-owned by The Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox and Comcast has routinely ranked among comScore’s top ad-supported online properties over the past several years, including a No. 1 ranking in June, 2011.

In the March 2014 comScore rankings, Hulu ran more than 81 ads per viewer — nearly three times the frequency of ads-per-viewer generated by runner-up AOL.

Current Hulu subscribers will maintain their existing subscription, but will have the choice to switch to the commercial-free option at any time for an additional $4 per month. Hulu, which has 9 million subscribers, says it shows fewer commercials than broadcast television. 

"Providing more choice for consumers is fundamental to the Hulu experience; in addition to an array of choices in content and devices, our customers can now choose to watch with or without commercials,” CEO Mike Hopkins said in a statement.

On a mandate from Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch to up Hulu Plus competitively with Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video, the service over the past year has aggressively expanded its content lineup. Hulu just announced a landmark multiyear agreement with Epix that will bring premium films from Lionsgate, MGM and Paramount to the SVOD service for the first time.

Hulu also signed major licensing deals with networks, including AMC, FX and Turner, and acquired the exclusive SVOD rights to full libraries of hit shows including “Seinfeld,” “Empire,” “Fargo,” “South Park,” “CSI,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Nashville,” “Deadliest Catch” and “The Last Ship,” among others. Earlier this year, Hulu also became the only subscription video on-demand service to offer the Showtime premium service as an add-on directly to subscribers for an additional $8.99 per month.

In addition, Hulu has made investments in original programming, including event series “11/22/63” from Stephen King and J.J. Abrams, starring James Franco; comedy series “Difficult People,” produced by Amy Poehler; “Casual,” a comedy series from Oscar-nominated director Jason Reitman; “The Way,” a drama series starring Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”) and Michelle Monaghan; and season four of the critically-acclaimed comedy “The Mindy Project,” starring Mindy Kaling.

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