How To Download Movies and TV Shows from Hulu
Streaming media has moved from being a fringe player in television and movies to being one of the dominant forces in the industry. Everyone wants to stream content on their mobile devices, smart TVs, and even to computer desktops. Physical media is dead, and everything is on the Internet. Well…that is the vision that a lot of streaming companies have. Media companies love being able to control the delivery of movies and shows, because it preserves their ability to charge for access. And let’s not get it wrong – that access is worth something. Paying Netflix or Hulu or Amazon a few dollars a month in exchange for access to a great deal of video content isn’t a bad deal at all.
However, consumers are pushing back on this all-streaming vision of the future. Many point to incidents where media companies have removed material from the streaming services, and even cases where they have removed content already stored on people’s devices. There is a growing consensus among knowledgeable consumers that, while streaming is terrific, if you really like a show or a movie, you need to have your own copy and not rely on some cloud server somewhere to keep it for you. We want to download our movies and shows from sites like Hulu.
Not only does having your own copy of materials save it from being deleted later after someone gets into a squabble over rights, it also has practical benefits. Streaming lets you watch video pretty much anywhere, as long as you have a good internet connection. But what if you don’t? What if you’re out of data, or somewhere without decent coverage? What if you’re stuck on a plane for a few hours? What if you’re going on a long road trip and you want to be able to entertain your kids even if there’s no wireless broadband? That’s when being able to download content from Hulu would really come in handy.
In this article, I am going to show you several different ways to download local copies of your content from Hulu.
(Note: When this article was originally published in June 2018, it noted that Hulu promised that a feature allowing movies and TV shows to be downloaded for offline viewing would be available sometime between summer 2018 and 2019. As of August 2019, nothing has been announced about this alleged change. With Hulu now being majority-owned by Disney, it is still unclear whether this feature will ever be released.)
License to stream
Other media streaming companies have shown some understanding of the consumer demand for downloadable content. In 2016, Netflix began allowing users to download a number of TV shows or movies. Amazon Video allows you to download videos directly to your device. You can also download (with various restrictions) from YouTube, Spotify and most other streaming services. But you still cannot download movies and TV shows from Hulu for offline viewing.
It all comes down to licensing, and it isn’t necessarily Hulu’s fault. Media companies want to extract as much profit as possible out of their creations. In doing so, they use an outdated licensing model to limit what each platform can and cannot do with each movie or show, and one strict limitation is downloading.
Why? Because once something is downloaded, the platform loses control of the media. The downloader can do what they like with the movie, including share it online. Piracy is a big reason downloading limitations still exist. Yes, we all know that piracy would exist regardless – the pirates aren’t going out and getting legal copies of the movies in order to torrent them – but media companies are not known for their rational approach to the piracy issue.
Is it allowed? Is it legal?
A lot of people ask whether downloading content from Hulu is legal. The answer is “sort of”. There is no criminal law that prohibits saving a local copy of streamed content. However, on the civil side, there are questions of property rights that are frankly murky. However, it IS a violation of the Hulu terms and conditions to download movies and TV shows from Hulu, even if you are a subscriber. Hulu’s position is that you can watch whatever you like as long as you stream it.
Accordingly, be aware in reading the following sections that TechJunkie does not endorse or suggest the use of any of the technologies under discussion. This article is for informational purposes only.
The quickest and dirtiest method of recording Hulu shows is to use QuickTime as a screen recorder. You can download a version of QuickTime for Windows or Mac for free. Once you have installed and opened it, open Hulu in your browser and play the show you want to record. In QuickTime, click “File,” then “New Screen Recording.” When a small window appears, click the record button to start recording.
The message above will appear. Follow the instructions and click the stop button when the video is finished playing. To save, press “Ctrl + S,” and name the file.
There are two downsides to using QuickTime: one, you have to have a microphone to record the audio, so you will be playing the sound for the video through your speakers and then recording it with the mike, so the audio playback quality is likely to be poor at best. Two, QuickTime files are notoriously huge.
Movavi Screen Recorder
For a more robust recording experience, you can use a product such as the Movavi Screen Recorder (which is also available for Mac). This software, like QuickTime, records the screen, but it does it at 60 frames per second. It also captures audio directly without having to play it through your speakers and re-record. It also has a more robust feature set.
Using Movavi is quite simple.
- Start the Hulu stream that you want to download, and hit pause.
- Start Movavi. You can either manually draw a rectangle around the screen area you want to record, or use one of the built-in “frames” to capture a given window.
- Click the Record button in Movavi.
- Hit Play on your Hulu stream.
- When your video is done playing, hit F10 to stop recording. Your video will be autosaved in the MKV format to your hard drive.
- Use Movavi’s Scissors tool to trim any unneeded sections from the beginning or end of the video.
- Use the Save As button to convert the video into the format you prefer; Movavi supports MKV, MP4, WMV, AVI and other formats natively.
The advantage with this program is that you can save your media in any format, usually the super-efficient MP4. There are no time limits and no limitations on how you keep or use the media. The downside of Movavi is that it’s expensive; $59.99 for the full version. You can, however, try it for free.
iTube Studio – Hulu Downloader
iTube Studio – Hulu Downloader is a very descriptive title for a PC and Mac app that does exactly that. It works with Hulu, Netflix and a wide range of streaming services. Like Movavi Screen Recorder, it records what’s on your screen rather than the stream itself. So once set up, you have to leave it completely alone or you will compromise the recording.
Hulu Downloader has two different ways of downloading, but is also simple to use.
- Launch the Hulu Downloader tool.
- Open Hulu in your browser.
- Navigate to the video you want to record.
- Either click the “Download” button that now hovers over the video, or copy the Hulu URL and paste it in the “Paste URL” section of the Hulu Downloader tool and click “Download”.
- If you use the Paste URL method, you can download multiple streams one after the other.
- Let your video play while the tool records it.
- Go to the “Convert” tab and select the format you want to save your video in.
Like Movavi, Hulu Downloader is a paid app. For the PC version, a one-year license is $19.99 and a lifetime license is $29. On the Mac side, the costs are $24.95 a year or $34.95 for a lifetime license. Both versions also offer multisite and business versions at a significant price premium.
PlayOn is a service that lets you record and download streaming movies from Hulu as well as from several other sites. It is by far the most polished solution of all those I’ve discussed here. It is not a screen recorder, but rather actually creates a browser session, goes to Hulu or whatever other streaming site you are using, and records the video directly from the stream, giving you a perfect lossless copy of the video content.
PlayOn has two variants. There is a Cloud version which lets you pull videos to your mobile device, as well as a Desktop version that turns your PC into a video recorder and media server. The pricing model is different for each version. On the Cloud app, you pay 25 cents per discrete video that you want to download. On the PC version, you can buy the app outright for $69.99 (on sale for $34.99 as of April 2019), or get a monthly license for $4.99/month, or an annual license for $24.99/year.
PlayOn offers a number of features that less robust apps do not. For example, it has ad skipping technology, which lets you skip past any ads in shows that you have downloaded. Additionally, you can “subscribe” to a show with one click, automatically downloading the entire season or run of the show and grabbing new episodes when they drop. You can set PlayOn to record at off-peak times, so that your shows download quietly at night when your Internet connection isn’t being used for other things. You can also stream shows from your PC to your TV. Overall, PlayOn is feature-rich and very useful.
AceThinker Video Keeper is a standalone video downloader for Windows or Mac, and it allows you to download video from a large number of sites, including Hulu, YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, Facebook, TED, Metacafe, Lynda, Veoh, MyVideo, Break, VEVO, and many more. Video Keeper will download SD, HD and even 4K video streams, allowing you to save the resulting video files for playback on your phone, tablet, or desktop. One neat feature of the software is that it lets you download YouTube channels and playlists with a single click. Video Keeper costs $39.95 for the full version, but the free version will let you test its suitability for your needs.
Video Keeper can also convert video files to any standard format without having to add new codecs or install additional software. The application supports the MP4, AVI, MOV, WMV, FLV, MKV, 3GP, and ASF formats, along with some other lesser-known standards. There are video presets built-in for playback on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Android phones, tablets, PSP, PS3, Xbox, and other types of display device. In addition, with the full version, you can download up to five video feeds at once without slowing down the other downloads.
Video Keeper also has a feature called Discover mode, which lets you automatically download any video file that you are currently watching online, transparently in the background.
Stream Transport is a bit of a throwback in this roundup of apps, most of which have smooth glassy “modern” interfaces, whereas Steam Transport looks like it dropped right out of the 1990s. But it functions as a downloader, and it has one supreme advantage over the others: it’s totally free. Stream Transport is equipped to pull video files using the HTTP, RTMP, RTMPT, RTMPE and RTMPTE protocols, which covers a huge number of sites, including Hulu, Veoh, Boxee, Joost, YouTube, Yahoo Video, CBS, SVTPlay, TV4Play, etc. You can auto-capture videos and not have the hassle of copying and pasting URLs unless you want to. Videos are saved in either FLV or MP4 formats, and Stream Transport has a built-in player for your videos as well. One possible downside: Stream Transport has not had an update since 2014 and the program does not appear to be developed any longer.
WonderShare AllMyTube is a standalone downloader for Windows or Mac. There is a free trial download, and the full software costs just $29. AllMyTube includes an extension for web browsers which adds a “Download” button to your in-browser experience, so you can simply navigate to Hulu (or any other video site) as you normally would and the Download button will appear on the video that you watch. AllMyTube allows you to convert as you download, so that your downloaded video files are in the appropriate format for your playback device, and also includes a screen recorder program for websites where its download mechanism is software-blocked.
AllMyTube includes a QR code feature that allows you to scan the code to transfer downloaded files wirelessly to your portable device(s) using your WiFi network. There is a built-in player within the app so you can watch your Hulu videos directly. Of course, you can download multiple videos at once and at up to 3 times playback speed depending on the size of your network pipe.
Have you got any other suggestions for downloading content from Hulu? If you do, then please share them with us in the comments section!
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