PROS / This service provides the best way to catch up on current episodes of the biggest network shows.
CONS / Commercials are a serious drawback to the user experience.
VERDICT / Hulu is a good value and is close to achieving streaming greatness with an impressive selection of up-to-date shows and complete series.
Hulu started out as a joint venture between several major media networks in 2007. Three years later, Hulu started its monthly subscription service. While Hulu was originally meant to be viewed without a fee and on a computer, Hulu added more ways to watch streaming TV through apps and an expanded library of content. This internet TV provider started as TV-only, but it has since added a selection of movie choices, as well. Because you have the ability to watch the latest television episodes shortly after they air, Hulu earns our Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award for movie and TV streaming sites.
There's no question about it: Hulu is the best internet TV service when it comes to catching up on current running seasons of your favorite shows. You only need to wait one day after it airs before the episode is available to you. While there are full seasons of popular shows available, we ran into a few instances when only the last five episodes of a particular series were available to watch.
In terms of exclusive content, Hulu also has its fair share. However, unlike the original content from other services, Hulu’s original series generally are not enough reason by themselves to make you justify signing up for this service.
Hulu doesn't slack in features either. This streaming movie and TV site has nearly all the features Netflix offers. This service utilizes a personal queue and watch history to keep track of your favorite programs. You can also watch Hulu on a wide range of devices, such as a game console or tablet. It even has the customizable user profile feature that will recommend you videos that you'd probably like. The combination of these features makes using this service convenient and enjoyable.
However, this service is missing two useful features: offline viewing and parental controls. With offline viewing, you can download videos on your portable devices, allowing you to watch the content without an internet connection. Parental controls prevent your children from watching inappropriate videos by controlling what they can and can't access. Both features are relatively useful, yet Hulu is the only service in our top three that doesn't have them.
The overall user experience is seriously affected by Hulu's insistent use of advertising in it basic subscription level. Even after paying for a membership, you will be treated to commercials throughout your program. In a typical 42-minute television episode, we sat through seven minutes of commercials. While that's better than watching TV the old-fashioned way, just remember that you might see the same commercials several times throughout the show.
If commercials are a major nuisance for you, Hulu offers an ad-free subscription. This offering, also known as the "Commercial Free" option, allows you to watch content without interruption. This will cost you, though -- a few extra dollars per month. Furthermore, the ad-free package doesn't have any other benefits compared to the basic subscription. Both subscriptions are exactly the same, except for the commercials. Aside from that, Hulu is very binge-watcher friendly. If you have a few hours to spare and are finally going to watch a show like "Breaking Bad," you can start from the beginning and relax. The auto play feature will start the next episode after the current one finishes.
Help & Support
Hulu's help and support is better than average. It hosts a regular blog if you want to see what innovations are being released in the near future. If you want to contact Hulu with concerns, there is not a live-chat option, but you can reach the company by an email form. The general FAQs page will take care of your minor problems. The tutorials page is the most beneficial and covers billing, smart device troubleshooting and video organization, among other topics.
Hulu is so close to being the best way to watch internet TV. Its constantly updated library of the most popular current television shows is second to none. Truthfully, if it weren’t for the barrage of commercials at the basic subscription level, Hulu would be difficult to pass up.