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Hulu to end free streaming service

The end is near for Hulu’s free streaming service.

In a few weeks, paid subscriptions will be the only choice to view content on Hulu’s platforms. Customers will be offered a free trial then asked to buy the $7.99-a-month tier, which shows ads, or the $11.99-a-month tier, which eliminates ads, according to the Hulu website.

“As we have continued to enhance that offering with new originals, exclusive acquisitions, and movies, the free service became very limited and no longer aligned with the Hulu experience or content strategy,” said Ben Smith, Hulu’s senior vice president and head of experience.

But some content from Hulu will be free — the last five episodes of TV shows from ABC, Fox and NBC eight days after their original broadcast — in a new partnership with Yahoo announced Monday.

Yahoo shut down its previous video hub called Screen seven months ago.

“Yahoo View is our first step towards creating a powerful community TV-watching experience, but it’s really only the beginning,” said Jess Lee, Yahoo’s vice president of Lifestyles product, in a statement Monday.

Hulu will also utilize blogging site Tumblr to allow users to search for GIFs or photos from recent episodes.

Yahoo View is available on the desktop, and later will be available on the mobile Web and apps for iOS and Android, the company said.

Last Monday, Verizon announced its acquisition of Yahoo for $4.83 billion.

Hulu will continue to offer its library of no-cost content via its distribution partners, including NBCUniversal’s parent, Comcast.

Last Wednesday, Time Warner announced it was taking a 10 percent ownership in Hulu, which has 12 million subscribers.

Time Warner’s channels — including TNT, TBS, CNN, Cartoon Network and Turner Classic Movies — will be available live and on-demand on Hulu’s new live-streaming service, set to launch early next year, according to a news release. The company is jointed owned by the parent companies of three TV networks — Walt Disney, 21st Century Fox and NBCUniversal.

According to research firm eMarketer, Hulu boasts 67 million users in 2016, compared to 73 million for Amazon, 126.9 million for Netflix and 176 for YouTube.

Hulu launched in 2007 with a library of free television shows and clips, at a time when there was little traditional-length video on the Internet.

In 2010, Hulu launched a subscription tier with limited advertising in 2010. Last fall it started an ad-free service at a higher-priced subscription tier. And now it is preparing the launch of the live TV service next year.

Hulu also has original content, including the comedies Casual and The Mindy Project.