Hulu lets folks in the US and Japan watch movies and TV shows for free on a desktop or laptop computer, but up until now if you’ve wanted to watch Hulu on a smartphone or tablet you’ve needed to pony up some cash for a Hulu Plus subscription.
Now Hulu is offering free content on mobile devices for the first time… but there are a few catches.
First, you can only watch clips, not full movies or TV shows.
Second, you can browser clips by category, but you can’s search for clips — so basically what you’re getting is a curated list of trending clips or the latest clips in categories such as news, trailers, or comedy.
Each clip will also be preceded by a video ad, and that ad will stop playing if you scroll down the page, open another browser tab, or move away from the app. So you can’t just start a video and go do something else with your phone or tablet while waiting for the ad to finish before you start watching. The commercial needs to stay in focus and play to completion before the clip will play.
All told, it’s a smart move on Hulu’s part to make some content available for free on mobile devices. It’s a great tool to help people discover content they might be interested in… and to help convince them to become paying subscribers if they’d like full-length content.
But from a user standpoint, I’d probably rather just search YouTube for videos to watch.