NEW YORK — Hulu is dropping the free TV episodes that it was initially known for as it works on an online television service to rival cable TV.
Hulu said Monday that free episodes — typically the most recent four or five episodes from a show’s current season — will be gone from the site within a few weeks. Instead, it is making free episodes available through Yahoo in an expansion of a distribution partnership the internet company has had with Hulu.
While Hulu started as a free site, free video has become more difficult to find after Hulu launched a subscription version in 2010. They haven’t been available on Hulu’s mobile apps or streaming-TV devices, just on Hulu.com from a traditional computer. Hulu says relatively few people watch the free videos.
Now, they won’t be on Hulu.com at all. Devotees of Hulu’s free on-demand videos will be able to find them if they’re visiting the new Yahoo View site from a computer. They’re not available on a phone, although Yahoo is working on a mobile version.
The company plans to launch an online TV service next year. In a move that could make that service more appealing, Time Warner Inc. recently took a 10 percent stake in Hulu, joining the TV and movie conglomerates — Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox and Comcast’s NBCUniversal — that already owned it. Time Warner plans to contribute some of those channels, including TNT and TBS, to the new service.
Several other companies already offer live TV over the internet, including Sony and Dish. DirecTV plans a service for later this year as well.