It took Hulu almost no time at all to rise through the ranks of premium streaming services. Launched as one of the first premium streaming services that would be in direct competition with the behemoth known as Netflix, Hulu had a bit of an uphill battle. How were they to differentiate themselves from Netflix? How were they to land enough syndicated material, especially when Netflix already had contracts with so many networks and studios? What could they offer that would be good enough to wrest subscribers from Netflix (or at least convince people that they needed a second monthly streaming service bill to pay)?
I think that Hulu actually answered many of these questions with some very smart moves. I mean, apparently, I am not alone in thinking this, because Hulu is now the second most popular and widely used streaming service of all time. So, what exactly did they do to address all of these extremely daunting concerns that had investors unsure about Hulu’s future when it first hit the market?
First of all, in terms of how they were to differentiate their service enough from Netflix’s … they went about this in a few ways. Firstly, they offered a slightly different streaming model. Instead of simply releasing full seasons of TV series, for example, the way that Netflix famously had, Hulu decided to mirror their platform a little more closely to that of traditional cable. Netflix was the king of binge-worthy content.
Hulu decided that there was still value to be found in unraveling series one episode at a time on a weekly basis. They believed that keeping people on the hook would bring them back, time and time again, to tune in the following week and see what happens next on their favorite shows. And they were right. Many people who swear by Hulu cite the fact that they are able to watch new episodes of their favorite shows 24 hours after they air on cable TV.
Taking this model, Hulu had no trouble at all finding syndications that Netflix had either overlooked or did not have the platform to properly cater to. As soon as Netflix began pivoting to focusing on producing more original content, Hulu snatched up a ton of network cable syndications – these networks favoring this week-by-week release model for currently airing programs.
This allowed Hulu to secure very exclusive contracts with the likes of NBC, ABC, and Fox. However, Hulu also began producing original content of their own, immediately upon launch, accurately predicting that this would be the big push in the coming years of streaming. As a result, Hulu has produced plenty of critically acclaimed and award-winning original movies and TV shows.
As far as what they were able to offer that could convert dedicated Netflix streamers to the Hulu fold … in addition to plenty of high-quality original content that could not be found on Netflix (or anywhere else) and the ability for users to keep up to date with their favorite currently airing sitcoms and dramas, Hulu eventually started offering its own live cable TV streaming service in addition to its basic streaming capabilities.
This was, in my opinion, the final large-scale move that would forever differentiate Hulu from Netflix in a major way. For around $50 a month, users could now stream live TV from hundreds of networks, as well as stream their favorite Hulu content on-demand. No other premium streaming service, mind you, was offering anything of the sort at the time. And I know, personally, plenty of people who hopped on the Hulu bandwagon almost immediately once they began offering this service.
Although this isn’t often the case with premium streaming services, people seem to absolutely love the app version of Hulu. Whereas many premium streaming apps do not tend to get very high user ratings, the Hulu app is one of the highest-rated apps in all of the Apple App Store, and it seems to be tenured as an Apple App Store Editor’s Choice. With an overall average user rating of 4.7 stars (out of 5) from over 1.2 million individual user reviews, there is no touching Hulu in the world of premium streaming apps.
So, let’s dive in, shall we? And see just what it is about the Hulu app that makes it so great.
It is not very common that a premium streaming app is designed in a way that truly makes sense for a premium streaming app. Take the Netflix app, for example, it is very cluttered, and it seems to be built in a layout that would make more sense for a social network than it would for a streaming service. Hulu, on the other hand, knows exactly what it is – a premium streaming service that needs to make a convenient smartphone application of its platform – and it knows exactly how to best highlight its features in a way that makes the most sense for a mobile application. In fact, I might go as far as to say that the Hulu app is far better than the Hulu web browser site.
They have conveniently separated the home page of the app into clickable sections. Just select what you are looking for and watch the whole page immediately transform. Scroll through a slender menu at the top of the app, choosing either Popular, Drama, Comedy, Documentaries, etc. and simply browse by genre or popularity. From there, it is just a matter of scrolling down until you find the title you are looking for
The “My Stuff” section of the app also makes for a completely streamlined experience. Whether you are watching on your computer, your tablet, or your smartphone, pick right up where you left off by being able to access a cross-platform folder of your favorite shows, movies, or TV networks. Add a show to your My Stuff list on the computer, and then access it immediately on your phone via the app. It is streaming simplified.
In addition to having a personalized viewing experience, the Hulu app also grants you access to every show, movie, and network that you have access to based on the level of your account. In other words, there are no missing titles or networks on the app, no limitations. Every movie and show that Hulu has to offer on its website and Smart TV app is also available on the mobile app.
You can also add on specific additional networks to access exclusive content, such as Showtime, HBO, Cinemax, or STARS. And if you have access to Hulu TV, the app allows you to watch live television while also simultaneously browsing from a live TV menu, turning your smartphone into television in no time.
Pricing and Plans
Hulu probably has more pricing tiers than any other premium streaming service. What you pay for determines what you get. There is the Hulu basic streaming option, which is $9.99 a month and contains ads. Or, for only 2 more dollars a month, you can get Hulu Premium, which is ad-free. If you want access to live TV, however, you’ll have to be willing to drop around $40 a month (which also gets you access to everything else). From there, much like Amazon Prime Video, you can add specific channels like HBO and Showtime for various additional fees per month.
That being said, the app itself is 100% free to download and use. There is no additional cost to use the app, and it allows you to create up to 6 different personalized accounts, in case your family and friends will also be using your Hulu password and username.
Suggestions that I have for the Hulu App
Unfortunately, as is the case with many premium streaming apps, the Hulu app does have the occasional glitch. There have been reports of closed captioning errors, the rewind feature being off, and some minor sound problems here and there. So, my main suggestion (which I am sure that the Hulu app team is already working to resolve) would be to get rid of these minor bugs in order to create the truly flawless mobile experience that the Hulu app could offer.
All in all, the Hulu app, if we are basing it on ratings alone, might be the best premium streaming app currently on the market. There may be a minor glitch here and there, but for what it’s worth, this is quite possibly the best free app you’ll find. If you have a Hulu account, it is a must-have, and if you are considering getting one, I strongly urge you to – especially if you watch a lot of content on your phone or tablet!