June 29, 2010

My Two-Cents on Hulu Plus

So, it looks like Hulu went ahead and did it; they officially rolled out Hulu Plus earlier today, and it seems like everyone has an opinion, so why not share mine. This news was by no means a surprise since rumors about Hulu adding a premium service have been swirling around forever, but for some reason it did feel a bit rushed. I guess now that the iPhone 4, iPad, and Hulu integration on the Playstation 3 and XBox out there it makes sense to fast-track Hulu Plus.

I'm not going to lie, the thought of having Hulu stream on my phone is a pretty sweet idea (one that has me inching closer to the iPhone), and it might be too hard to pass up. With that being said, I'm not 100% in love with Hulu Plus mostly because it sounds like ads will still be a part of the package. I was convinced that a premium version of Hulu meant it was going to be ad-free, but that doesn't look like it's going to happen. While I'm not against ads per-se, if I'm going to have to watch them anyway then why should I pay $10 a month?

Now, having a backlog of some off-the-air shows is a cool little addition, but it will be a moot point once Netflix busts out its iPhone/iPad app where you can get a ton of old shows ad-free. Also, Netflix will still be the first choice when it comes to watching movies on your mobile device because you don't have to be interrupted by commercials.

The one area where Hulu Plus trumps Netflix is current shows. From what I can tell, Netflix only offers a handful of current shows on their Instant View setup. If you can have a season-long pass of all of your favorite current shows, and you can watch them anywhere at any time, now that's cool. Sure, you can illegally download shows and movies, but torrenting takes up too much time and effort, and I'd be willing to pay $10 a month just to avoid the hassle, but those ads are still a deterrent. An ad-based, premium service just seems counterintuitive, but I suppose a reduced number of ads wouldn't hurt.

I don't think Hulu Plus is going to be a Netflix killer, but I do think the two services can work well together. I can watch all my current shows on Hulu, and use Netflix for older shows (and I can still rent DVDs & Blu-Rays). Makes some sense, but I'm going to hold off for a little while just to see how things shake out.


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