Hulu is one of the most popular streaming services. One of Netflix's oldest competitors, Hulu is an affordable streaming service that boasts a great selection of on-demand movies and TV shows — including an impressive slate of originals that holds its own against the legendary lineups on Netflix and HBO Max. But Hulu is in a crowded market (or two of them, actually — for more on Hulu's entry into the live TV streaming market, read our review of Hulu + Live TV). Can it hold its own against Netflix and HBO Max — or, for that matter, its sister service Disney+? To find out more, I visited Hulu again this year and was impressed with what I saw.
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Hulu has two subscription plans: Hulu and Hulu + TV. The latter is an on-demand streaming option. You can access a wide range of TV and movie titles by paying your monthly subscription fee. Additionally, you have unlimited streaming of any title you like. The second choice, Hulu+ Live TV includes an almost cable-like collection of live TV channels. This streaming service competes against cable and other TV streaming services such as DIRECTV Stream. This plan is so much different than the Hulu basic plan, that I think it deserves its own review. That's why this review will only be about plain old "Hulu".
Hulu's streaming service is referred to by industry insiders as "SVOD" (subscription video-on-demand). Hulu charges a small monthly fee for unlimited streaming and a restricted catalog.
Hulu uses ads to differentiate its approach from Netflix. Your on-demand streaming experience will occasionally be interrupted by commercials if you subscribe to the basic plan. These commercials are not skippable. My testing revealed that these ads are not skippable. The length of Hulu’s ads breaksIt was quite reasonable. Personally, I don't mind breaks so much — they give me time to refill my glass of water or grab a snack. You can pay an extra fee to Hulu to get rid of ads.
Hulu, like Netflix, has its own original content. Many of the content is great. Hulu's The Handmaid’s Tale series, which is a dark but great series that's based on Margaret Atwood’s novel, has received high praise from critics. Hulu's Little Fires Everywhere has been a hit, as well as Letterkenny. It hopes to repeat the feat with its recent revival of The Animaniacs.
Hulu has original movies. The hilarious Palm Springs is a great place to begin with them. (I am not a culture critic but you do not have to believe me.
Hulu's licensed library is impressive, too, though it's not quite as large as the ones you might find with some competitors (Netflix, for example, has more shows and movies — though it's also more expensive than Hulu, which is something we'll talk more about in a later section).
Hulu's streaming rights deals aren't always exclusives, so don't be surprised if you see licensed titles in Hulu's library that are also available on Amazon Prime Video — or even on a free service like Crackle. Hulu has a large library, but some deals may be exclusive. This library feels somewhere in between the huge Netflix library and HBO Max's highly-curated library: It is medium-sized and has a lot fun content, but very few real stinkers.
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Hulu, like most streaming sites, focuses heavily on its content discovery capabilities. Hulu's menus include recommendations and trending content as well as other lists of TV shows and movies that it suggests you might be interested in.
I sometimes find all the content discovery tools on streaming services like Netflix annoying. Although I am not perfect, I accept that I sometimes get confused. I prefer to be able look at a well-organized menu and make my own decisions. It is particularly annoying when streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video conceal my favorites, watchlists, or previously watched sections. Hulu has this issue solved.
There are many recommendations in Hulu's App, but it is also easy to locate your favorite shows. It's also shockingly easy to find menus of just movies or just TV shows, and — wonder of wonders — you can even drill down by genre within these categories (no \"secret Netflix codes\" required). Sometimes this can make it obvious that there aren't many options. This might explain why some streaming services don't allow it. I have found myself working my way through all the titles in one genre on Hulu without ever finding anything. It would be better to have this happen, then I could go and read a book rather than spending my entire evening looking through algorithmsic menus such as the one on Netflix. I see titles in multiple categories but never know if they are all mine.
Hulu, like Disney+, has a hub system which makes it simple to search for content that is based on bigger brands. Hulu's hub system doesn’t work as well as the Disney+ brand, which has categories such as Star Wars and Marvel that are very meaningful for fans. It's still a great feature and helps Hulu feel more organised and easier to navigate.
My testing revealed that I am not an extremely demanding Hulu user. Other than adding titles to \"My Stuff\" — Hulu's simple and very effective watchlist/favorites system — I didn't feel much need to use many of Hulu's features. I tested all of them, however.
Hulu is the most popular way to watch videos. However, you may also be able to choose to save some for offline viewing. Mobile platforms are not allowed to use this feature. This feature allows you to download movies or videos to as many as five mobile devices simultaneously. You also have the option to save up to 25 movies or TV episodes. Each individual download counts towards this limit.
Hulu has also added user profiles to its site. Although this is not a common feature, it's still neat. You can create your preferences, and your personalized recommendations, without having to affect the algorithms for your sibling or roommate.
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Hulu's on-demand content streams at 60 frames per second and features picture quality as high as 4K Ultra HD — though the 4K content is pretty limited, and you're more likely to end up watching your show or movie in 1080p. Hulu gives 4K compatible content a small "4K" badge so that it is easy to find 4K content within the menus. Hulu offers original titles in high-quality streaming.
Hulu's streaming performance was very impressive in my tests. Hulu delivered reliable streaming quality on every device, no matter if I used a Wi-Fi or wired connection.
Hulu is known for its platform support. Hulu's most recent app supports Hulu + Live TV and the On-Demand version. It is compatible with every streaming platform, platform, browser, web browser, video game system, as well as all major mobile platforms. That includes all of our familiar favorites (like Roku, Fire TV, the Chrome browser, iOS, and Android) as well as some options that aren't always supported by Hulu's competitors (like the Nintendo Switch and — to my delight — the Firefox browser).
Hulu's user experience was consistent on all platforms. You'll be able to recognize Hulu's approach and great user experience regardless of what platform or device you use.
Hulu was tested on Roku Fire TV Chromecast, Fire TV Chromecast, iOS and Android.
Hulu may have a lot to offer, but it's most notable asset is its value. Hulu's streaming service is affordable at $6.99 per month. This is less than Netflix's standard plan.
Hulu, however, is different than Netflix. Hulu's catalogue is much smaller. It also has ads, which users can pay a bit more to remove — ad-free Hulu costs $12.99 per month. Even with these differences, Hulu still looks great value.
Hulu's pricing This pricing is similar to Disney Plus, and makes perfect sense since they both belong to Disney. This streaming service is very affordable and seems to have subscription stacking as a goal. Hulu can be added to any streaming account without having to cancel anything else. It is even more simple to add Disney Plus to Hulu. Both are available in bundles that include ESPN Plus.
Hulu was originally a Netflix competitor. It has always felt like a small brother to the largest streaming service. This is still true in some ways: Netflix is more popular and has more originals than Hulu. This competition doesn't just revolve around streaming libraries. Hulu costs less than Netflix. This makes it easier to combine Hulu with other streaming services or add them to your budget. Hulu offers more value for money than Netflix, with few advantages such as the simpler organization of Hulu's menus or the attractive discount that bundles Hulu with Disney+ and ESPN+.
Hulu, even its little brother, has a lot of appeal. This seems to be getting better with each passing day. Hulu is a veteran streaming service and doesn't seem like an imitation or newcomer. It's the best streaming service money can buy, pound for pound.