NEW YORK (AP) — 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.
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, Hulu is making free episodes available through Yahoo .
While Hulu started as a free site, supported by advertising, free video has become increasingly more difficult to find as Hulu tries to lure viewers into a subscription — $8 a month for a plan with ads, and $12 without. In recent months, visitors to Hulu.com have been presented with prominent links to subscribe, with links to free video buried in a menu after signing in.
And free episodes haven’t been available on Hulu’s mobile apps or streaming-TV devices, just on Hulu.com from a traditional computer. Now, they won’t be on Hulu.com at all.
Devotees of Hulu’s free on-demand videos will be able to find them by visiting the new Yahoo View site from a computer. The Yahoo site will not have free episodes of CW shows such as “Arrow” and “The Flash,” as Hulu has been offering, because CW has a broader deal with Netflix instead. Yahoo says it will have the past five episodes of ABC, NBC and Fox shows available. The Fox shows will appear eight days after their TV airing, as is the practice at Hulu.com now. Yahoo will also have some older CBS shows.
The episodes on Yahoo are not currently available on a phone, although Yahoo is working on a mobile web version and an app. Yahoo says the mobile version will be free, but it may not have all the same video as the desktop computer site because of content licensing restrictions.
Hulu says relatively few people watch the free videos. It now has about 12 million subscribers who pay for original shows, the entire current seasons of some network shows and access to Hulu’s library on mobile and streaming-TV devices like Roku.
Hulu also plans to launch a live online TV service next year. It would show broadcast and cable channels in real time, without making viewers wait until the next day for episodes. 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 its channels, including TNT and TBS, to the new service.
Several other companies already offer live, paid TV over the internet, including Sony and Dish. DirecTV plans a service for later this year as well.
Yahoo also has broader ambitions for View. It wants to add video from other Yahoo properties and from other networks and studios. However, its previous attempt at an online video hub, Yahoo Screen, shut down in January, despite having new episodes of the cult comedy “Community” after its cancellation by NBC.
Verizon, which is buying Yahoo to help the phone company grow a digital advertising business , makes TV episodes and short videos available on its go90 mobile app. Phil Lynch, the head of media and content partnerships at Yahoo, says that as the deal gets closer to closing early next year, it “makes sense that we have integration discussions.”
TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s Emperor Akihito will issue a rare video message to the public Monday amid speculation he wants to abdicate in the coming years.
Akihito in his recorded message will convey his thoughts about his official duties as a symbol, his status stipulated by the constitution, an Imperial Household Agency official said Friday on condition of anonymity, citing sensitivity of the issue.
Akihito is expected to avoid explicit reference to abdication, a step not written in imperial law and that would require a legal process he cannot request.
The video would be only the second message Akihito has delivered to the public in his life, the first one expressing sympathy and support for survivors days after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan.
The possibility of abdication surprised many Japanese last month when NHK public television reported that Akihito had expressed his intention to do so in the next few years.
At 82, Akihito still performs public duties including attending ceremonies, receiving foreign dignitaries and traveling in and out of Japan. In recent years, Akihito has mentioned his old age, citing small mistakes he made at ceremonies. The NHK report, which cited anonymous sources, said he did not want to cling to the title if he was unable to carry out its responsibilities.
Crown Prince Naruhito, the older of the emperor’s two sons, is his most likely successor.
Akihito ascended to the throne in 1989 after the death of his father, Hirohito, who was considered a deity until Japan’s defeat in the World War II, fought in the name of the emperor.
Akihito brought the cloistered imperial family closer to the public and broke with other traditions, including his marriage to a commoner.
Akihito has repeatedly said he respects Japan’s postwar pacifist constitution and is committed to his status as the symbol and the unity of the people, not the sovereign.
According to the traditional count, Akihito is 125th in a line of emperors that began in 660 B.C., making it the oldest surviving hereditary monarchy.
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BERLIN (AP) — If you go down to the Rhine today, you’re in for a big surprise.
At least that’s what the Swiss city of Basel is claiming in a video featuring “Pokemon Go” characters taking humorous revenge on gamers.
In it, actors dressed as the Pikachu character throw giant balls at people with smartphones around the city. The mobile game, which has been hugely popular since being launched last month, normally involves players catching Pokemon by flicking the balls at them.
The clip has become a viral hit with more than 1.4 million shares on Facebook by Friday. It was made for Basel’s tourism office.
The city on the Rhine sits in the northwestern corner of Switzerland, on the border with France and Germany.
NEW YORK (AP) — Leonardo DiCaprio has given good friend Jonah Hill a scare on a New York City street.
Video posted online by E! shows DiCaprio running up to an unsuspecting Hill with a smartphone in his hand while pretending to take pictures. Hill appears frightened before realizing who it is and smiling. The two then embrace.
DiCaprio and Hill co-starred in Martin Scorsese’s 2013 film, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and both were nominated for Oscars for their roles.
They also appeared together on “Saturday Night Live” in 2014 and re-enacted a famous scene from “Titanic,” with Hill playing the Kate Winslet role.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A state lawmaker in Tennessee was arrested for theft Tuesday after someone got him on camera removing a rival’s campaign signs last month.
Rep. Curry Todd, a conservative Republican first elected to Tennessee’s legislature in 1998, was taken into custody at his home in Collierville, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Earle Farrell said.
Farrell says video shows Todd removing signs belonging to opponent Mark Lovell, one of three challengers in the Aug. 4 Republican primary. Todd said the property owner had given him permission to replace them with his own.
“Yes, I did pick up the signs the other day, and I took ’em,” Todd told The Commercial Appeal. “I wasn’t trying to hide anything. It was daylight.”
Todd was arrested when he repeatedly failed to show up for questioning, Farrell said.
“Curry Todd forced us to come get him today,” Farrell said during a news conference.
Todd, 68, pleaded guilty in January 2013 to drunken driving and gun charges and was sentenced to 48 hours in jail and the loss of his firearm for a year. He also was arrested in October 2011 in Nashville after failing a roadside sobriety test while keeping a loaded weapon next to his driver’s seat.
Booking and lawyer information for Todd was not immediately available. A call to his legislative office in Nashville was not immediately returned.
NEW YORK (AP) — In another move to break from YouTube, music video brand Vevo has cut a deal to license videos from Warner Music, repairing a rift between major labels that began with the launch of the service seven years ago.
Erik Huggers, who took over as CEO of Vevo in April, on Tuesday called the deal an important milestone as it forges a “new relationship” with Warner. Vevo is co-owned by major labels Sony and Universal. Warner has its own channel on YouTube.
Warner CEO Steve Cooper called the deal the latest way it was attempting to “unlock the true value of music videos.”
Vevo relaunched its mobile app last month in a refresh that Huggers said paved the way for more original content and an ad-free subscription plan.