Hulu announced today that it is adding the rumored commercial-free option to its streaming service, priced at $11.99 a month.
Users will still have the option to choose the limited commercials option, priced at $7.99, or watch for free with frequent and plentiful commercial breaks.
There is no word when Hulu will address technical issues that cause its apps to crash frequently during playback.
It’s a strategic time for Hulu to start offering a premium pricing option, as it comes on the heels of its announcement earlier this week that it would be improving the quantity and quality of its movie selections through a multi-year deal it signed with cable network Epix, which previously had a content agreement with Netflix. Starting in October, Hulu will get a catalog of high-profile releases through Epix, including “Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “World War Z” and “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”
Seven network series will still be running with a pair of commercials (a 15-second pre-roll and a 30-second post-roll) under the $11.99 plan — ABC’s “Scandal,” “How to Get Away with Murder,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Once Upon a Time” and “Agents of SHIELD,” Fox’s “New Girl” and NBC’s “Grimm.”
Hulu was founded in 2007 as a partnership between NBCUniversal, Fox Broadcasting and Disney-ABC Television. Initially, its prime selling point was that it offered viewers programming from ABC, Fox, NBC, and the CW the day after it aired. But, over the last two years, it’s been building out its original programming offerings with series such as “Deadbeat,” which was renewed for a third season in June, and “Difficult People,” which was renewed for a second season last week.
Hulu’s upcoming fall slate includes the 26-episode fourth season of “The Mindy Project” (debuting Sept. 15), picked up after Fox cancelled it in May; the new original series “Casual” (debuting Oct. 7), starring Tommy Dewey and Michaela Watkins; and “RocketJump: The Show” (debuting Oct. 21), which, like “Deadbeat” and “Casual,” comes from Lionsgate Television.
Other upcoming Hulu originals include “11/22/63,” a J.J. Abrams-produced mini-series based on the Stephen King novel of the same name about a teacher (James Franco) who travels back in time to present the JFK assassination; and “The Way,” a family drama from creator Jason Katims (“Parenthood”) starring Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”), Michelle Monaghan (“Source Code”) and Hugh Dancy (“Hannibal”).
In recent months, Hulu has also signed licensing deals with networks including AMC, FX and Turner and acquired the exclusive subscription streaming rights to broadcast and cable shows such as “Seinfeld,” “Empire,” “Fargo,” “South Park,” “CSI,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Nashville,” “Deadliest Catch” and “The Last Ship.”