Hulu Plus sucks (still)
Every once in awhile, a new free trial for Hulu Plus crawls along, like the 60 days free offer at Bestbuy Mobile (now expired). The promo page also offered free trials for Spotify Premium and Zinio digital magazines. All offers are for new customers only, or — psssst — just a new email address.
This latest offer got me to bite, so I have once again joined the ranks of the Hulu Plus ‘elite’. What do you call a Hulu Plus subscriber anyway? Hulu Plusser? Hu-loser? In any case, that’s me again. Yip-diddy-do-da, I can now watch Hulu from my Roku, my Dynex Wi-Fi Blu-ray player and my smartphone.
Well, *I* haven’t really been watching it, as my leisure time is heavily restricted currently, but my lovely wife Tera has been giving it a go.
The latest Hulu Plus sucks experience
Here are a few of the comments I received from Tera about her latest Hulu Plus binge.
“What the hell? I think they took off the season I was watching”
“It doesn’t just freeze, it starts going in slow mo with no sound”
“Why does Hulu suck so bad?”
The last comment refers to the fact that the Hulu Plus service STILL has freezing and lock up issues when you play videos from a streaming media device such as our Roku and Dynex players. We experienced these same issues during our last Hulu Plus trial over a year ago. Netflix streaming works wonderfully on both of these same players, so we’re not looking at faulty hardware here. Our broadband speed is 40MBps down and the players use 802.11g Wi-Fi.
You would think that, by now, Hulu would get serious about end user experience and make their service, ya know, actually work…
Come on Hulu! Get real would ya? Hulu Plus has been in operation since 2010! But maybe they don’t care about paid subscribers. After all, Hulu has always been a confused company, getting pulled in opposing directions by its various co-owners (consisting of big media). The company has often been in search of a new buyer and the TV networks who own all the content are continually changing their minds about Hulu, blocking content that used to be available on the site, and on and on. A company and service in constant flux, for sure.
So what does Hulu Plus have to offer these days?
For no-subscription-TV-service viewers like us, I was hoping that Hulu Plus would open the door to a broad set of content that we currently can’t access via our over the air HDTV antenna and our subscription streaming services (Netflix and Amazon Prime).
Unfortunately, it hasn’t been a walk in the park so far. Content availability is still very hit and miss. One of the first shows I searched for was ‘Whale Wars’, but alas, Hulu displays a message stating that the show is only available on discovery.com. Of course, Discovery only provides short-length clips for this show on their site, so it is not quite so available after all.
My second Hulu Plus content consumption attempt was a search for the show Agents of SHIELD. Annnnd BINGO! This show actually IS available on Hulu Plus, and they even let you play it on your TV and mobile phone, how nice of them (a lot of content on Hulu is restricted to ‘web only’, meaning a PC browser alone).
But hold on now… This isn’t a fairy tale ending. As I scroll down the show’s page on the Hulu website, I glimpse the following notification.
“We are able to post the last five episodes from the current season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The episodes posted may vary based on ABC’s on-air schedule”
But that’s not even the worst of it! You might have thought, screw it, I don’t have to see the whole season, I’ll just watch the latest 5 episodes. Nope, sorry, access denied, do not pass go and do not collect $200. Hulu currently only lists the following 5 episodes as available for viewing from Season One; 3, 7, 8, 11, 12.
That’s right, you don’t even get access to 5 sequential episodes! To say that this is disappointing for a potential viewer is an understatement. Why does ABC even bother allowing ANY Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. content on Hulu at all?
It shouldn’t surprise me really, as Hulu seems to get shackled with more and more ridiculous restrictions as time goes on. But even so, what a simply dreadful end user experience.
Can the exclusives keep us interested in Hulu?
I certainly intend on exploring the Hulu Originals while we have the oh-so-delicate TV access provided by our newfound Plussiness. I’m a huge fan of the original series shows that are available on Netflix. Lilyhammer, House of Cards and Orange is the New Black have all been big hits in this household. I’m not up to speed on what Hulu currently offers in terms of original shows, but I do remember their very first attempt, ‘A Day in the Life’, turning out to be a big flop. A quick search online revealed that their new original show ‘The Wrong Mans’ is getting some accolades, so there is hope.
But even if Hulu does knock my socks off with a phenomenal original series, it is immensely unlikely that they will convert me to a paid subscriber. It’s the highly annoying & repetitive advertisements, the poor streaming video and the harsh content viewing restrictions that all just make Hulu Plus not worth my dollar.
Can Hulu improve, significantly? I sure hope so, but I’m not holding my breath after considering their horrendous track record thus far.
Related: you can read about a similar poor experience with Hulu Plus by my colleague, Steven Kippel.