The concept of binge-watching shows has become so common that the streaming networks, like Netflix and Hulu, have changed the way that shows are made and released to lean into the concept. A season of an original show on Netflix tends to have 8-10 episodes and are released at once, with the high profile shows releasing during a time when the next few days will be the most convenient to binge.
Hulu is taking the concept a step farther, giving their binge-watching customers on the base plan a nice new feature. The base plan for Hulu includes ads, the quantity of which has increased fairly dramatically in the past few years, starting with one or two per break, and currently running almost as many as network television. But, if you are binging a show, Hulu will start eliminating ads almost entirely.
The company has defined "binge" as watching at least three episodes in a single session. So, once you have met that qualification, future episodes will be "ad-free." Ish. On broadcast television, when a program is "ad-free" there is always a bumper before the show that says something to the effect of "This episode is presented without ads thanks to *company name*." This will also be the case for Hulu's approach, with a couple of big brands already on-board with the move, including Georgia-Pacific, Kellogg's, and Maker's Mark.
As more streaming services enter the market, consumers are starting to have to decide which they want to subscribe to. The binge feature sets Hulu apart from its ad-supported counterparts. This move comes at a time when the industry is urging Netflix to offer a lower cost plan similar in structure to Hulu's, including running ads. If Netflix were to be considering an ad-supported lower cost plan, Hulu mixing up the formula could put Netflix on their back foot, having to reconsider a service they don't want to offer.