The Pros and Cons of Hulu – Should You Subscribe?
Hulu is likely one of the first names that come to mind when thinking of streaming media services. Either YouTube or Netflix will likely come first, with Hulu coming second or third. With the huge marketing budget of its competitor, that’s understandable. But is it all about marketing? I spend a week with Hulu to discover its pros and cons and whether it is a worthy competitor in an ever-growing market.
Hulu was originally launched with the intent to offer free streaming to computers but quickly evolved into so much more. It now offers original content, a huge library of TV shows and movies and even live TV. Partially owned by Disney who is now offering its own streaming service, it will be interesting to see where Hulu evolves to from here.
So what are those pros and cons of Hulu?
The pros of Hulu
There are lots of positives about Hulu. That is echoed by the million plus subscribers it has across the US. Some of the pros of Hulu as far as I am concerned include:
Huge library of content
Hulu concentrated on TV shows since its inception and the breadth and depth of content reflects that. It offers most popular TV shows from most networks and also makes its own. This last point is important as some of the networks including CBS and 21st Century Fox are now owned by competitors who run their own streaming service, CBS All Access and Disney after purchasing 21st Century Fox.
Hulu Live TV
Hulu Live TV is an ace in the hole for the service. It is improving all the time and offers over 50 channels of live TV depending on where you live. You get a 7 day free trial, which isn’t long, but at least you can try before you buy. Channels offered vary by location but include most major local networks and a bunch of national ones.
They can include ABC, CBS, FOX, Fox Sports, NBC, Telemundo and CW for local channels and Food Network, Bravo, FX, National Geographic, SyFy, History, ESPN, CBS Sports Network, Golf Channel, CNN International, Fox News and MSNBC among many others.
Any live TV service has to offer some kind of DVR feature and Hulu does just that. The free option is a miserly 50 hours of recordings but if you pay an extra $15 a month, you can expand that to 200 hours. You can only record one stream at a time though.
As you would expect, Hulu is compatible with most devices capable of streaming including Amazon Fire TV, Smart TVs, Android devices, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, iOS devices, Chromecast, Chrome browser, Roku Streaming Players, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Microsoft Edge among many others.
Cons of Hulu
Nothing is ever perfect and there are some downsides to using Hulu. These may not bother you but they annoyed me during my time with the service.
No offline option
I like the ability to download content to my device for watching while on the move. Sure, there are limitations on what you can download on any service but to not have the function at all is a downside. I use this option a lot on Netflix and while not all content can be downloaded, a lot of it can be.
Poor selection of movies
While I am listing this as a con of Hulu, it is also a con of Netflix and Amazon too. The selection of movies is not the best. Sure each of these are mainly about TV shows but movies should feature much more strongly. I would gladly pay a dollar or two a month more for a better selection of movies.
You have to pay to avoid commercials
I consider this unforgiveable. You’re paying for a TV service and still have to contend with ads. You don’t on Netflix and you don’t on other services. The basic plan may only be $5.99 a month right now but you get commercials along with that. You either have to buy a better plan or buy the No Commercials addon which is just unacceptable in my opinion.
Again, this con is not unique to Hulu but it is more of a factor here than on other streaming services. Currently, Hulu is only available in the US and Japan. That’s fine for me but not so much for our international readers. It also limits the content we get to see. Netflix is global and also features global content. Hulu features mainly North American content, which is plentiful but somewhat limited in quality and cultural appeal.
Verdict of Hulu
All streaming services have pros and cons, Hulu is no different. However, I think the whole commercials thing is a deal breaker for me. Hulu Live TV is excellent. The content library is outstanding and the service works on every device I have. However, if I want to have commercials with my viewing, I’ll watch free OTA broadcasts and not pay for content.
What are your pros and cons of Hulu? Tell us about them below!