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Hulu will bring free, full TV episodes to mobile users, along with ads

Good news for TV viewers on the go: Later this summer, Hulu plans to offer full TV episodes on mobile devices for free—provided you’re willing to watch some ads.

Still, being able to watch free programs on the go marks a departure for Hulu. Previously, users had to subscribe to the $8-a-month Hulu Plus service to watch full episodes on a phone or tablet or make do with clips of shows.

The changes, announced Wednesday at the Hulu Upfront event in New York, would bring Hulu’s mobile offering in line with what’s available through the company’s Web service.

“We want you, our viewers, to have more access to the content you love, right at your fingertips,” said Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins, announcing the availability of ad-supported full episodes for mobile users. In addition, Hopkins said, Hulu plans to roll out a new version of its iPhone app for Hulu Plus.

What’s unclear at this point is exactly which shows will be available to mobile users in ad-supported form. Hulu still has to iron out licensing agreements with the TV networks that hold the rights to shows.

Depending on Hulu’s negotiating skills, mobile viewers could be in for a TV show buffet this summer, or a very restricted diet. Nevertheless, Hulu’s decision to move free programming onto mobile is a nod to how important this mobile has become for attracting viewers.

Hulu’s Upfront event included a few other announcements, notably that the streaming service has ordered a second season of Deadbeat, its original series about a pot-smoking psychic slacker. Hulu set premiere dates for the second season returns of three other original programs—The Awesomes, Quick Draw and East Los High. And the paid Hulu Plus service now tops 6 million subscribers, Hopkins said.

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