Who Needs Hulu? NBC Adds Free TV Shows to Its iPad App

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NBC’s iPad app just got a lot more useful with full episodes of popular shows like Community and Parks and Recreation. Both the app and the TV episodes are now free.

The selection of full episodes in NBC’s app isn’t too shabby. For primetime, scripted TV shows, the five most recent episodes are available. Late Night with Jimmy Fallon had eight recent shows. And for reasons I can’t explain and don’t want to think about, every single episode from this season of America’s Got Talent can be streamed for free.

(MORE: Study: Most Mobile Users Stream Video Near an Actual Television)

The update makes NBC the second broadcast TV network to embrace free, streaming TV shows on the iPad. ABC’s iPad app, which also includes free shows, has been available since the iPad launched in April 2010. (CBS’s TV.com app also has full episodes, but is only formatted for the iPhone.)

By going free on the iPad, NBC just wiped out a big reason for iPad owners to get Hulu Plus, the $8 per month service that streams new TV shows to the iPad and other devices. Of the three broadcast TV networks backing Hulu—ABC, NBC and Fox—only Fox is holding out on streaming free shows to iOS devices (in fairness, other networks have shows on Hulu Plus as well, including Comedy Central and MTV).

I wouldn’t expect Fox to have a change of heart anytime soon. The network recently started delaying the online air date of new TV shows by eight days in an attempt to prop up pay TV. Then again, TV networks are known to do crazy things, like create a massive streaming video website to fight piracy and make ad money on popular TV shows, and then a few years later put restrictions on those shows even if it means inciting more piracy. It’s best not to think about it too much and just live in the moment. Enjoy your free shows while you can.

MORE: Why Aren’t More Cable Shows on Hulu? Because Old People and Contracts Suck, Apparently