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We’ve all heard about Hulu, and chances are, you’ve used their platform at some point. The online giant shares second place with Amazon for the most popular premium streaming platform, clocking in around 25 million US subscribers. Hulu started in 2008, offering a free and premium streaming service. Since then, they have moved to a subscription-only model and it seems to be paying off. Their library has everything from classic holiday movies to original shows to live TV.
In 2019 Disney acquired Hulu, which makes their future look great. They have more of the movies you know will continue to create award-winning original content. And with up to 6 users per account, everyone can watch at their own pace. Before I get into some specifics about the site, I’ll get some basic info out of the way.
Hulu has four plan options: Basic, Premium, Basic + Live TV, and Premium + Live TV.
Basic $5.99 per month: This entry-level package will get you access to Hulu’s library on up to 2 screens at once. Basic includes regular ads before, during, and after all programs.
Premium $11.99 per month: Premium membership gives you access to Hulu’s library without ads – and to me, this is worth it. I’ll explain later.
Basic + Live TV $44.99 per month: Basic+ gives you the basic package with ads, plus live TV (with ads). Perfect for watching live sports on local channels.
Premium + Live TV $54.99 per month: Premium+ gives you access to the ad-free library and live TV. But, live TV does include ads.
Addons: – $9.99 per month for unlimited simultaneous screens. – $8.99 – $14.99 per month for other premium streaming libraries, including HBO, Showtime, Cinema, and STARZ. – $4.99 – $9.99 per month for various Live TV addons like DVR and access to Spanish programs. – $12.99 per month to bundle Hulu Basic, ESPN+, and Disney+
Most people share accounts. It’s just the way these things work. Hulu allows up to 6 profiles per account and two screens to simultaneously stream. If you want to avoid that awkward text telling your buddy to get off your account, you can add simultaneous streaming on all six profiles for $10 per month. Personally, I think that shouldn’t be an extra charge, but it is useful.
Intuitive and Personal Interface
Hulu makes their platform easy to use. After you log in, you’re able to jump right into a show you didn’t finish or find something new. You can explore everything by scrolling around the premade lists of suggestions based on shows you already like. Even though most platforms are moving that direction, Hulu does it exceptionally well while integrating live TV options alongside their catalog of content. So, if you log on to finish that episode of The Handmaids Tale, Hulu will have some suggestions for live TV to remind you of what’s on and what’s coming up. I love this feature because it gives continuity to the segmented content on its platform. There isn’t one place for TV, another place for movies, and the third place for live broadcasts. It’s an all-in-one interface that gives you a great overview of things going on. You might not find something right away, but you won’t be looking for long with Hulu’s suggestions. They even customize suggestions based on each profile on an account. So if your friend is really into Gordan Ramsey, you’re not going to be overloaded with suggestions to watch the newest episode of Chopped.
What Hulu Does Right
Hulu has a giant library for everyone. I am a Shark Tank addict and try to catch all the newest episodes as they air. But if I miss one, I’m able to watch it the next day on demand.
And finding what you’re looking for is surprisingly easy. Just click the big magnifying glass at the top of the screen to search the library. As you would expect from a premium service, the search is quick and offers suggestions if they don’t have a specific title.
The other week I wanted to watch the Halloween classic Hocus Pocus. Unfortunately, that is one of the movies Hulu doesn’t offer. But they suggested I checked out their “Huluween” collection.
One-click took me to a huge list of titles they put together. They were organized by originals, classic, family-friendly, film fest winners – the list goes on.
Even though I couldn’t watch what I wanted initially, I ended up watching another family-friendly movie: The Corpse Bride. I had heard about it, but Hulu’s curated list of awesome movies to watch around Halloween suggested a movie-night winner.
And with Disney recently acquiring Hulu, you can bundle a ton of content. For $13 per month, you can get Hulu Basic, ESPN+, and Disney+. So even if you can’t find something on one platform, you have a few options to help you find the next movie.
Which brings me to the next thing Hulu does right – parent controls.
I was logged into my profile when I was looking for a Hocus Pocus alternative. If I had kids too young for Rated-R, the suggested movies for Huluween would’ve been responsible for a few nightmares. But Hulu lets you make a profile just for kids that hide mature content to avoid those situations.
Instead, it curates a healthy list of content that is family-friendly. With the huge library at Hulu, the kid’s experience feels just as endless as the non-restricted content.
Last, I love the remote app. In the Hulu app, you can stream the full library from your phone to your TV. You’ll need a Chromecast connected to your TV, but if you already have one, you can control Hulu without signing in on your TV.
What Hulu Can Do Better
Leaving aside adding Hocus Pocus to the Hulu library, they can improve a few things.
First, Hulu only allows one home device per account. For me, and everyone I know that has Hulu, account sharing is universal. It’s a favor between friends that says, “I’ll pay for Hulu if you pay for Netflix.” Hulu doesn’t care about this friendship building exercise and only allows one ‘home device’ to be active at a time.
For example, my buddy got a new smart TV with Hulu built-in, but he couldn’t sign into Hulu because the ‘home device’ is my Xbox. Hulu only allows you to switch locations 4 times per year, so you can’t just switch back and forth.
But this doesn’t stop account sharing. You can still stream from a computer to the TV – effectively stopping no one from taking advantage of account sharing. Hulu just adds a little annoyance to the process.
Second, the ads.
Look – I get it – Disney paid a lot for Hulu, and they want to recoup the investment. But the number of ads before, during, and after a show on Hulu Basic can test the patience of a monk.
I understand that ads are a part of live TV. But when there is a monthly fee to access Hulu’s digital library, I expect minimal interruptions. Shows have ads way too often. And if you really want to notice how disruptive the ads are, try watching Hulu on a computer with Ad Blocker. Instead of skipping ads, Hulu forces you sit in silence during what would’ve been an ad.
If you’re like me, you’re an internet native. I’m not used to paying for content or watching ads. I have ad blockers on all my devices that shield me from the harsh realities of live TV. So having my experience interrupted by ads so often was reason enough to upgrade my membership to Premium. Let me finish by saying this. Hulu offers a great service. My complaints about Hulu are likely the result of contract negotiations. But ease of use and user experience factor heavily in my opinion.
What’s the Verdict?
For me, Hulu is a must-have.
I hated paying for cable and only kept it for live sports. Now, I can watch live sports from anywhere on Hulu with the Premium + Live TV package. But most people can get by without Live TV, which makes Hulu an easy choice. My biggest advice would be to bite the bullet and pay $12 for an ad-free account. Personally, I think the extra money is worth every penny. The average person will watch around 25 hours of commercials per month. And for $6, you can avoid that.
But if you’re not as bothered as I am by ads, I highly recommend Hulu’s newest bundle. For $13 per month, you can get Hulu Basic, ESPN+, and Disney+. In my opinion, that is one of the strongest offers from any streaming site out there.
In an age where Netflix seems to raise their prices every year, Hulu has lowered prices and made more shows available for you to watch.