Hulu’s Live TV has rolled out in beta, offering more than 50 channels for just under $40 per month. What makes Hulu stand out from competing services is that it now offers a combination of streaming video plus live television. Among its live content, Hulu offers the four major broadcast networks, ESPN, HGTV and an array of news and animation content. Original content includes “The Handmaid’s Tale” and the service also boasts day-after TV shows and B-list movies, all melded into a single library.
Wired reports that, “as you watch, Hulu starts to learn what you like.” A Hulu account can have up to six profiles, 50 hours of storage and the ability to watch in two places at once. Plus everything stays in synch. The user can add “more storage and more streams for $15 apiece or $20 together.”
Hulu’s new features are available on Apple TV, Xbox One, iOS, Android and Chromecast; Wired predicts it will soon be available on Roku and Fire TV. It also points out that, because Hulu is owned by “giant conglomerates,” it is already an “Internet-y testing ground,” meaning that whatever works there will be repeated by its owners on other platforms.
According to TechCrunch, “a key part to the new service is the … new user interface,” which debuted at CES 2017, and is “a worthy upgrade from the existing Hulu app, which was starting to seem a little dated.” The new interface “has a mobile-first focus” and push notifications and alerts will be added later.
Upon signing in to a Live TV account, Hulu walks both existing and new subscribers through the process of customizing the service via broad and niche interest categories. Users can also pick favorite channels. The home screen’s “lineup” section is “meant to be a mix of shows, movies and sports programming it knows you like,” along with recommendations.
Other options include Continue Watching, which allows the user to resume playing a program; My Channels, which shows what’s on the user’s favorite stations; and categories including Sports, TV, Movies, Kids, News, Featured Movies and Hulu Originals, for a total of “13 swipes to reach the end of the Home screen.” A Teams section also allows the user to follow her favorite sports teams. The Home screen, says TechCrunch, “blurs the line between live television and on demand,” with only a little green lightning bolt and “watch live” to designate live TV.
TechCrunch does describe the cloud DVR’s implementation as “a little odd,” since it doesn’t have its own button at the bottom of the screen but instead is accessed throught the Manage DVR section, which is the “very last item on the My Stuff screen,” requiring more than six swipes to find. Still, it notes, Hulu’s live TV is still in beta, so many quirks could be worked out between now and its public launch.
Hulu’s New Live TV Service Is Absolutely Gorgeous, CNBC, 5/3/17
Hulu Live TV Is Most Well-Rounded Cord Cutting Service, Tom’s Guide, 5/5/17
Hulu Live TV Is the Best Cordcutter Service Yet, But It Needs Some Work, Gizmodo, 5/5/17
Internet TV Skinny Bundle Market Gets More Crowded With Hulu’s New Service, Forbes, 5/4/17