Is Hulu Plus Worth It?
The industry of video rental has slimmed with material source and has increased with self-sufficient streaming services. Netflix was the pioneer and, over the years, has elaborated a very well though-out plan to keep up with the demand and how the companies were shifting into the digital realm. Up until now, there were no real competitors to Netflix; in the contrary, some video-rental companies went down and others are in danger due to this technological upheaval. In late 2010, along came Hulu plus and, that goes without saying, that it has its disappointments.
Founded in 2007, Hulu began as a video-content distributor and started with a privatized invite-only beta version. In early 2008 it launched the web for now public access for US IP addresses only. Similar to YouTube, Hulu was accessible via a web browser and no subscription was needed.
NBC, ABC-Disney Television and Fox own each the majority of the shares for the ownership of Hulu with Providence Equity Partners funding it. After almost two years in the run for free web video streaming, the company’s CEO had in mind to evolve the business, and to do that, it needed a subscription-based model for it to succeed. In June 2010, Hulu Plus, a beta testing service subscription plan, was available and would only launch the official service in November 2010 for everyone to view. Hulu Plus uses commercials and ad-services to make most profits for its equity partners and, that did not change with the monthly subscription plan.
With the same rates Netflix offers, a 7.99$ monthly fee, Hulu Plus as also expanded on many platforms and is now taking a meaningful climb in the video-service industry. Hulu Plus has now expanded its video-streaming service onto PS3, Xbox 360, network enabled Smart TVs and Smart Blu-ray players, smartphones, tablets, Roku Streaming Player and WD TV Media Player. Of course, all these devices need to be registered and working on a US IP address.
The way Hulu Plus makes their revenue is with commercials during the streaming. For a 20-minute show, you would have two blocks of 30 seconds ads, and its relative for movies. Hulu always had the commercials when it only worked on a web browser, but it just seem unjustifiable to still have annoying and mind-numbing ads when you have to pay for streaming services. The point of the subscription is for them to maintain revenue and all that jazz; so why keep the commercials and make your persistent money-scheme just as obvious? The choice here is up to you, if you feel that paying and enduring the forced breaks are unimportant denotations, it’s not half bad. With time though, those interruptions will make you regret your choice over a Netflix account.
Having tried Hulu Plus services on the Xbox 360 and, of course, an internet browser, I can say that it has, nonetheless, an impressive and expanded TV show library. Not so much for movies though. It stores a very large portion of TV shows Netflix offers as well and even more. Since the major television networks own the service, shows like Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Jay Leno or Conan are on there, and it’s refreshing not having to go on the web and finding them in poor quality, or just not at all. The videos can easily be found as short clips, or segment of an episode, just like YouTube would do, and makes it easy to find and watch stuff like SNL Digital Shorts.
One of the disappointments is their movie catalog, having the most ridiculous and low-budget material you never could’ve thought of. Limited and lacking fundamentals titles, their film collection might as well not being there at all. Considering that Netflix charges the same for their entire catalog, it obliges you to take a side here: what do you watch more? If you watch more TV shows, go with Hulu; if you watch more movies, go with Netflix (not that they don’t have a pretty decent library for TV as well). But that alone is a self-explanatory problem, being that if they want people to justify their service-purchase, they should be able to outbalance their pros and cons and outstand the competitors. With such an outstanding TV show library, you think they would at least eliminate some commercial time (especially since Xbox 360 owners need to pay their 59$ annual initial fees for Gold and the 7.99$ a month, and just that seems like enough commitment to the corporations).
Their category menus, on the consoles at least, are awkward and feel under developed. The Hulu user interface on a web browser is just what you would expect from it: simple and clean, easy to navigate. The Hulu Plus UI (on a console) looks sketchy and poorly presented, making it look like a bootleg version of Hulu. Some of their videos are categorized under their respective name, but the AI won’t find your video if you’re typing a key word that belongs in the video title itself. You have to know what you’re looking for and, with weird categorization from time to time, you won’t have the best of luck with it.
One another problem you could encounter is that, on network-enabled devices, some shows will appear on the catalog but a message will appear next to it, explaining that this particular show is only available on a web browser, therefore making your subscription a little worthless. Understanding that their library is constantly expanding, but similar to Netflix, it shouldn’t feel like their services are split depending on the device you use; after all, it is the same service. Netflix doesn’t run under those issues and it feels silly of Hulu Plus to encounter inconveniencies as such, as this would be one way to make the company’s synergy more organic.
Hulu Plus is not a terribly bad service; it just needs some tweaking here and there. If they intend to keep charging the same price as their streaming-service competitors, they should make their customers’ money worth. All in all, less ad-campaign would be nice, since the point of Hulu Plus is to charge for it, they should be able to at least trim it down due to their revenue. Understanding that the point is to reduce piracy and watch anything everywhere, their catalog is a bit sloppy but, I’m sure it’ll get there with time, if they really wanna commit to it; until then, Netflix seems like a better choice.