This past summer, news broke that The CW was ending its long-standing deal with streaming service Hulu. This pact had allowed users to watch the five most recent episodes of CW programs, with new episodes being added a mere 24 hours after their premiere on TV. While many disliked the five-episode limitation, Hulu still served as the service of choice for cord cutters looking to watch CW shows while the season was still airing.
Subsequently, The CW announced that it had brokered a new streaming deal with Netflix, one which would see entire seasons of CW shows become available to stream a mere week after the season finale aired. While this pleased those who made a habit of watching CW content after the season had ended, those who preferred to stream shows sooner were naturally annoyed. Thankfully, The CW has seemingly not turned a blind eye to these concerns, and are now offering a solution.
Variety is reporting that as of today, Roku users can download a brand new CW app to their streaming devices, which will enable users to view the five most recent episodes of the network's primetime shows during the actual season, Hulu-style. Best of all, watching shows on the new CW app is absolutely free to everyone, and does not require a cable provider log-in or the creation of any type of account. Unfortunately, the app is ad-supported, so those used to watching shows like Arrow or Supernatural as part of Hulu's commercial free tier will have to get used to commercial breaks again.
This makes The CW the only one of the five major broadcast networks to offer in-season episodes of its shows for free on TV-connected streaming devices, without requiring a cable provider log-in. Other networks such as CBS offer select episodes of its shows online for free with ads, but only within a browser or sometimes mobile environment. Those wishing to stream for free on their shiny HDTVs are thus left out in the cold. It'll be interesting to see if The CW making this change leads to similar free TV-enabled offerings from competing channels.
While it makes sense that The CW would launch its revamped app on Roku - the best selling HDMI streaming device in America - first, (most of) those without a Roku won't be left out for long. Similar CW apps for the Chromecast, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV are on the way soon, which covers the four most popular streaming devices out there. Those who use a gaming console as their primary streamer are sadly not invited to the party as of yet. Someone needs to get the Winchesters on the case.