Hulu Explains Why Hulu Plus Shows Ads, Has Limited Content

Underwhelmed by Hulu Plus, Hulu’s pay service that lets users watch programming through the PlayStation 3, iPhone and other devices for $10 a month, Helen wrote the company about her disappointment. Hulu responded with an email that explains the service’s quirks:

Hi Loyal Hulu Watcher,

I’m so sorry it took so long for us to get back to you, however, I’d like to start off by thanking you for taking the time to share your feedback with us. 3 cents is always better than 2 cents, in my opinion, and with Hulu Plus being such a new service for all of us, your constructive comments are extremely helpful in helping us shape our service for the future.

You are correct, our current availability of content on Hulu Plus is limited. From our side of the fence, our team is hard at work during this Preview period to secure the legal rights to acquire more content for when all the popular Fall series return from hiatus, or when new shows release from development. In the ideal world, we would absolutely love and want nothing more but to be able to get every popular show out there that users love, and acquire the legal rights to stream them across every fancy device imaginable at the price that everybody wants. Unfortunately, due to stringent contract agreements on how content can be shared through certain devices, we are not able to have all of the content that everyone wants at this time. If you’d like to see a current list of the shows we do have, you can take a look here: http://www.hulu.com/plus#content. We will be updating this list regularly as more shows are added on, and we anticipate to have a more full catalog once Hulu Plus exits its Preview period.

I hear your concern about having to pay for Hulu Plus and watch ads. To provide a bit of background, the reason we include advertisements in Hulu Plus is to reduce the monthly subscription price of the service. We want to deliver a great service at a low price point. Premium content, especially when we’re dealing with episodes from the current TV season, is expensive to make and license, and we need to compensate our content partners fairly for the valuable entertainment they provide. Similar to cable television, ads allow us to reduce the monthly subscription to you in exchange for your viewership. We’re constantly working to tailor the ad experience to your interests to make it more relevant and useful, and the ad experience for Hulu Plus follows the same limited commercial model that you see on hulu.com today. In addition, we’re always evaluating new business models, including the option of a higher priced, ad-free model. Nothing is set in stone, and we are always open for new options. Thank you for reaching out to us, and whether you are tuning in to Hulu Plus or our free Hulu website, we genuinely appreciate the words that you have to share.

If customers don’t find Hulu Plus is worthwhile at $10 a month, especially with Netflix offering considerably more streaming content at $9, maybe Hulu Plus needs more commercials to drive the price lower.

Have you used Hulu Plus? What changes do you demand in order to subscribe?

Hulu Plus Reviewed: Is It Worth Your Money?

Comments

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  1. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    This is a whole-hearted non-answer. I appreciate the effort, no doubt, but it didn’t really answer any question you might have had about the service. The answers were pretty obvious, but I imagine people want a little more detail.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Well, to be fair to Hulu, it’s not like we have Helen’s original letter to know what questions she asked.

      • outoftheblew says:

        Exactly. If her letter asked “Why do I still have to watch ads when I pay for a subscription, and why aren’t there many shows available?” I think it answered it fairly directly.

        All the shows I’ve gotten used to watching on free Hulu are on hiatus now, so there isn’t a whole lot for me to watch. Apparently it’s the same situation if you paid.

    • ames says:

      Looks like a full answer to me. Now I know why ads are included (although that doesn’t bother me), why content is limited, and how they’re working to expand and improve. What more info do you want, a line by line accounting?

      I’m not surprised the first comment here was negative.

  2. smo0 says:

    “Similar to cable television, ads allow us to reduce the monthly subscription to you in exchange for your viewership.”

    Where that is true.. the cost should technically go down with the increase in subscribers… but then again, these CEOs walk away with 10s of millions….
    But to the writer’s credit.. that’s a smart analogy. +1 for honest, factual response.

    • Rachacha says:

      But with Hulu, for each user that is watching they are using more bandwidth so there will be a cost increase. Granted, not every paying user will be watching at the same time, but Hulu needs to pay for enough bandwidth so that when they are at maximum streaming viewership, they have sufficient bandwidth to deliver the content.

      With traditional Cable TV, they simply need to place the content on the cable and whether one person or 1,000,000 people are watching, they use the same bandwidth.

      • Doug81 says:

        Good point but the more bandwidth Hulu buys the cheaper it should be getting in turn lowering the cost of bandwidth per user.

      • Razor512 says:

        Bandwidth is cheap, the more you buy, the less is cost, while with ads which the site is full of, (banner ads and video ads) the more people on the site, the more expensive the ads become as the target audience is larger. That is why super bowl ads are so expensive.

        Look at free podcasts that are sponsored, or free shows on revision 3, the owner of that company makes a lot of money, while only having 1 or 2 quick ads on each show. Much of what they focus on is getting people to link to their shows, as the more people who watch, the mode ad revenue they get and the ads cover the cost of the show and add a little profit and the more people who watch, the more expensive the ads become and the more money the company makes. hulu can offer the + service for free and even put less ads if they wanted as they have a lot of people on the site. Hulu is just being greedy.

        • JohnnyP says:

          I agree it should get cheaper the more they buy you also have to take into account having to purchase more servers and more space for those servers. If they don’t have there own server building they could be paying rent on co locations. Co locations can be a good way to spread servers around the country and the more you have does not mean the cost of each will go down. In fact the more viewers they get the more bigger and beefier servers they have to get and when you looking at 15 to 20k for a server $10 a month isn’t that much also you have to keep more people to maintain more servers.
          With more subscribers they could also use the extra income to get shows that were too expensive when they first tried to get them and then they would have more options that may draw in more subscribers.
          If they don’t do any of those the apparent greed could be that they have been operating at a lose in the early stages and are now paying back debits that piled up while they were operating at a lose.
          Just my thoughts. Im not going to take up for them but just thought Id offer.

  3. partofme says:

    If 3 cents is better than 2 cents, how come $5 sounds so much better than $10?

  4. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    I guess what I want is what they can’t give: more content and/or no commercials.

    I hate the way they say “We are able to offer all 3 seasons of The Mary Tyler Moore show” as if that’s all that exist. There were 7 seasons, thank you very much. I hate the way the networks change their minds about allowing content on Hulu and just yank it, like how WB did with Babylon 5. I don’t want to pay for HuluPlus to get at certain shows when there’s no guarantee those shows will stay on the site.

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      You don’t have the box set? Minus 500 geek points for you. (Minus 1000 if you bought The Lost Tales or The Legend of the Rangers.)

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        Hey, I couldn’t afford to buy all 5 seasons at once! I’m only missing Season 2 and that is a temporary situation.

        But really, that was just a convenient example. There’s other shows that sort of thing happens to on Hulu.

      • PunditGuy says:

        TLT wasn’t awful, but I went into it with absolutely zero expectations. For the record, though, I don’t own it — it was the first video rental I ever did on Xbox Live.

    • shoelace414 says:

      B5 is on Netflix streaming.

    • ARP says:

      I’m willing to accept more content in exchange for commercials.

      The end game is that I’ll pay a lot ($25+) more if you let me ditch cable. In a perfect workd, having Hulu Plus and Netflix would basically replace cable.

  5. Aedilis says:

    Hmm, I think what you’re seeing here is that Hulu is struggling to make money off of a service that most people can get from their cable provider or from places like Netflix for a better rate. Why pay $10 more dollars a month to get something that is really no more of a benefit than what you can get with existing services?

    • MeowMaximus says:

      Hulu is also competing with bit-torrent, where I can get any show I want free, and with no advertising. For Hulu to succeed with a pay model, they have to offer something more. Otherwise, why should I subscribe.

      • xredgambit says:

        How about the ability to watch things and possibly not be fined or jailed. I know it probably won’t happen. But the shows I watch I want known that I watch it and hulu is a good way. Sure there are commercials, but they aren’t that bad, assuming I don’t get that damn hpv commercial or a tampon comercial.
        Hulu is wat the networks need to strive for. I wouldn’t mind paying for it when they get more content. I’m already cable free. And I prefer the legal route when possible.

        • kujospam says:

          I currently have hulu plus. it is great if they actually give us everything that they advertised it to be. If they actually give me season 1 through w/e of the shows that they have. I’ll be happy. As it is now some shows they only have the current full season, others they have all, some of have some seasons but not others. Also if they can put all of the normal content from hulu on my tv, then I’ll be happy. I normally use playon with a media center tv through my ps3. It works pretty well, but not perfectly. When I can cout out the ugly menu of play on, and addition pc, that makes the 10 dollars almost worth it. I really like watching stuff on my TV instead of the computer screen. I have a nice 60in tv. One of the things I noticed is that it said hulu plus coming to both my TV and blueray in the option menus, which gets me excited. I won’t even have to use the ps3 for that even just like I do with netflix now. The commercials don’t really bother me. Sometimes I wish there were more and sometimes I wish you can choose if you can have them in the beginning or throughout like on normal hulu.

          Once they start giving the full hulu content and the full idea of hulu plus, and will be totally worth it. I personally would like to see them add the ability for you to download the show instead of just streaming it, so you can watch it at your own time. Say if you are on a plane, or in a car, at work with a firewall. Like being able to download like up to 4 to 8 hours of tv/movie stuff at a time to watch later.

  6. dolemite says:

    I guess it just depends on what you watch as to whether old episodes of shows are worth $10 a month to you. Honestly, the video quality of many shows when streamed looks pretty bad compared to digital tv from cable or satellite. Otherwise, I could justify dropping cable and going with Hulu and Netflix. Not to mention the stuttering you sometimes see.

    • MrEvil says:

      Not if you’re on Time Warner in Austin. My “Hi-Def” Service doesn’t look tremendously better than my Lo-Def service apart from the fact the Hi-Def stuff occupies all my TV without letterboxing. And Hulu looks just as good as conventional cable.

    • BurtReynolds says:

      While Netflix streaming isn’t coming in 1080p, I don’t think it looks bad. Mine does not stutter at all either. It might take a few seconds to start streaming, but after that, I might as well be watching broadcast TV (with no commercials).

  7. Nighthawke says:

    *Rubs the bridge of his nose.* If they find a new way to broadcast shows, the industry will find a way to screw it up….

    Idiots.

    The OP needs a fat refund and a reduction in the subscription rate until at least a larger percentage of content.

    • ames says:

      Why should she get a refund? Assuming that she signed up for the service (which I don’t see in the post), she knew what shows were available because they’re listed on the website. They said “we offer these shows for $10 plus ads” and she said ok and sent them money.

  8. Beeker26 says:

    The problem is that they’re comparing their service to cable TV. As in, “well you could pay $70 a month for cable TV to watch your shows with a lot of ads, or you can pay $10 a month to watch them on Hulu with much fewer ads”. He seems to forget that most TV shows can be watched for free with few ads at the respective channel’s own website.

    Of course I prefer option #3, torrenting TV shows for free with zero ads.

  9. JohnDeere says:

    i want excuses about as much as i want commercials. not at all.

  10. dreamfish says:

    “… are extremely helpful in helping us… “

    … to help you help yourself helpfully.

    I wonder if we shouldn’t be slightly more generous to Hulu, whose response implies they are being screwed over by the big studios in terms of both price and rights management.

    • drkkgt says:

      This is what I was thinking, especially the line about “due to stringent contract agreements on how content can be shared through certain devices, we are not able to have all of the content that everyone wants at this time.” To me this reads, “yeah we get that it makes sense to provide it the way you want it, especially since we have to charge as per our masters, but there are these chains you see….”

    • DingoAndTheBaby says:

      That sounds like Engrish. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen signs with that exact phrase in stores/restaurants in Tokyo and Thailand. Sometimes, fair citizens of certain Asian countries, Google Translate is NOT your friend.

  11. myCatCracksMeUp says:

    Criminy! Only four seasons of Adam-12? There were seven seasons and they’re all available on Netflix streaming.

    Only only three seasons of The Office? The first five (all but the latest) are on Netflix streaming.

    I wasn’t interested in the first place, but I’m definitely not interested in even looking into it any more at all now.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      I was wrong. That’s the UK version of the Office that has three seasons. Hulu Plus does have all 6 seasons of the US version.

      But I’m still not interested in paying.

      • Blueberry Scone says:

        But the UK Office didn’t even have three seasons – it was two seasons and a Christmas special.

    • Griking says:

      Netflix probably has an exclusive agreement to be the only streamers of certain seasons or shows.

    • sea0tter12 says:

      It has “all 5″ episodes of ‘Firefly’, too.

      I see no reason to get this service.

  12. KJR52 says:

    I got in on the Hulu Plus Preview about 2 months ago. At first, it seemed pretty nice. Streaming over the 3G network on my iPhone 4 worked quickly without lag and the quality was fine. I also enjoyed the expanded amount of content.

    However, as time has gone on, I’ve found myself hardly using what Hulu Plus has to offer. Streaming over 3G often stalls, has poor-quality video (lots of blocky compression), and general stutters. The multiple ad breaks in a program get very frustrating when you’re struggling to watch the content as it is. You think to yourself, “I’m paying $10/month for this?”

    Today, I downloaded the Netflix streaming app as soon as I heard about the update being available for the iPhone. I only gave it a quickie test (more testing once the workday is out) on an episode of Arrested Development that I’d also been trying to watch on Hulu Plus.

    The Netflix experience was much, much better. The video loaded pretty much instantly, the video quality was better, I had no lags or drop-outs, and no commercials.

    I think with time, Hulu Plus could be worthwhile. But between the offerings from Netflix, the free version of Hulu, cable, YouTube, and countless other ways to get content, it’s not worth the $10/month. There’s such a huge catalog on Netflix’s service, and the free version of Hulu has most of what I want as far as “current” TV is concerned if I happen to miss an episode.

    If Hulu can improve their performance over a 3G phone network and limit their ads, then I’d reconsider. I think Hulu is great in general, I’ve been using it since they opened their original beta 2+ years ago. Spending the $10/month on the Plus service was worth the experiment in the short term, but I won’t be sticking with it, since Netflix offers me better iPhone performance, a huge catalog, no commercials, and discs sent to my house.

    When Plus come out of “preview” mode and is fully available on the PS3 in addition to computer, iPhone, etc, I might give it another shot. In the meantime, Netflix is blowing them out of the water overall.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      I like Netflix better also. Hulu was cool about two years ago when Netflix has about 1000 movies of Gene Autry in its instant view catalog. Now of course that has changed. I checked out Hulu for the first time in four months and every choice that I picked said I needed the premium service. What I do not especially like about Hulu is the yellow file folders that I have to search through that are alphabetically in order. I like Netflix better because on my Xbox360, movies are catagorized by genre, not name. Also in Hulu, it’s easy to spend 15 minutes looking for something interesting whereas with Netflix, I can actually see the titles and something may spark my interest.

      Case in point: Monday night I came up accidentally on the movie, “Let the Right One In”. If any of you like weird vampire movies, this one is for you. Granted its a foreign flick and in some scenes a bit of a preteen-chick flick, but the movie is damn good and the production is top-notch and its a visual type movie without all the special effects. It was a book, written into a movie, got a ton of awards.

      Netflix does an awesome job of having movies like this one whereas I don’t see this even at Blockbuster.

      • Clyde Barrow says:

        Opps,,what I meant to say was that the visual was more mental, than in the use of special effects.

  13. mantari says:

    It sounds like they’re just like TiVo.

    They don’t WANT to offer an ad-free tier because they’re trying so hard to sell themselves to advertisers as a platform to advertise on. Ad-free users hurts their advertising numbers, and ultimately, they care more about pleasing the advertisers than they do pleasing the users who have paid for the hardware, paid for the service, and want to pay even more money not to be hassled by ads.

    • nybiker says:

      +1.

    • UltimateOutsider says:

      Yes, they are in kind of a hard spot. I bet there are some subscribers who would gladly pay more for a commercial-free service. But those users would decrease Hulu’s advertising audience, lowering the premiums they could charge avatars. It’s not a simple problem.

  14. CharlesFarley says:

    Thank you for paying full price during our preview period while we work out the kinks in the content and delivery of our offering.

    Once we get our act together, $10 a month will seem relatively cheap and disappointment will be a thing of the past.

    xoxo,

    Dr. Hulu

  15. Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

    I have Hulu Plus. I get a lot more content than I did before.

    I can watch EVERY season of The Office (which I’m just now getting into, cant believe I never watched this before) and each episode has just ONE commercial, before the show starts. The rest is commercial-free. Same for other shows I’ve been discovering — I get to watch them from the pilot all the way through the current episodes.

    Without subscription, I only get the last five broadcast episodes, with commercial breaks throughout the show.

    This is the same for many other shows. Sure they don’t have everything, but so far, for what I watch, I think the $10 per month is well worth it.

    • Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

      Oh, and I’ve turned off cable TV, so that $80 per month (plus the $13 per month Tivo bill) are no more.

      Ten bucks a month is a BARGAIN.

      • sqlrob says:

        When for $1 less, you get more with Netflix, how is it a bargain?

        • Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

          Does Netflix also give me the current episodes of TV shows?

          • Doug81 says:

            No but if keep up with the show you can usually at least get the last 3 or 4 episodes from the network’s site. That’s free. The point of netflix is the amount of content you can stream which includes movies and tv shows. That’s what I do. Keep up with shows via free online sources and use netflix where applicable.

      • Doug81 says:

        I’ve got a concept for Hulu. Charge me for what I want to watch not for everything they’ve obtained licensing for most of which I don’t care about. Build a recommendation system similar to Netflix to direct me toward new shows which increases revenue for Hulu. Per season costs need to be very cheap though or else everyone will be paying more than $10 monthly. Monthly revenue won’t be as consistent but if they’re providing the service correctly they should do fine as far as revenue goes.
        One argument against this is some shows would cost more in order to cover license costs etc.; if the show isn’t popular then guess what, the license is over priced.

        People want to get away from $50+ satellite/cable bills for a reason. A tiered pricing model based on different technology isn’t likely to give a different result.

    • bendee says:

      With Netflix, you get the first five seasons of the Office, all 100% commercial free.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      each episode has just ONE commercial, before the show starts. The rest is commercial-free.

      Well why hasn’t Hulu been saying that? If I worked at Hulu and was answering the OP’s letter I’d definitely point out that the plus service does have fewer ads compared to the free service.

  16. Nick1693 says:

    “In the ideal world, we would absolutely love and want nothing more but to be able to get every popular show out there that users love, and acquire the legal rights to stream them across every fancy device imaginable at the price that everybody wants.”

    Free?

  17. nybiker says:

    One problem for all tv shows that are shown online is that modern day shows are written to accommodate 20 (or 40) minutes of actual content. The breaks that come at every 5, 6, or 7 minutes serve to disrupt the viewing experience even if they are ‘only’ 15 seconds (or even worse, now they are 60 or 65 seconds). If the online experience had a 30-second commercial at, let’s say, 30 seconds before the show content starts, then a 60-second version at the half, and then that’s it (forget putting the 30 seconds of content that comes to you after a 4-minute break just before the end – put those 30 seconds before the end), then I would not mind watching the ads. But to sit through 3 breaks for a 20-minute show or 5 or more for a 40-minute show is just not worth it.
    /just my $0.02 cents (yes, I know what I did there)./

    • evnmorlo says:

      Shows are structured around commercials too, since they are so long and viewers will forget what’s happening. Watch a program with commercials removed entirely and the post-commercial intros and repetition because noticeable. Commercials have really reduced content to more like 12 or 25 minutes.

  18. ARP says:

    I’ll pay much more than $10/ month if you let me realistically get rid of cable. This means:

    1) Full seasons of all new shows offered within 24 hours of airing. This applies to the regular TV (e.g. 30 Rock) and regular cable (e.g. Jon Stewart and Breaking Bad). Previous seasons should also be available.

    2) I’m willing to pay a premium (much like cable) for premium channel sows like Dexter.

    3) An extensive library of old shows (e.g. Seinfeld, BSG, Honeymooners, etc.)

    4) Depending on what you charge, I’m willing to watch ads (low price= ads; high price=no ads)

  19. yellowwallpaper says:

    Add up-to-date cable show like Man Men, Big Love, etc and I am in. Otherwise, I have a TV antenna + Netflix- so I don’t see the point.

  20. allknowingtomato says:

    I understand Hulu’s urge to compare itself to cable tv, but for consumers the more ready comparison is obviously with the streaming service offered by Netflix.

    Netflix offers more streaming content with NO commercials and fewer site issues (as far as I can tell) for 9/month. Things freeze on Hulu constantly for me, and that is a rarity for me on Netflix.

    Also, I never try to click on an episode of something in Netflix, only to be told “That episode is no longer available.” That feels like a common occurrence with Hulu (it might not be but it pisses me off SO MUCH when it happens.)

    Also, Hulu is a joint venture between NBC(GE), FOX(Newscorp), and ABC(Disney), and thus their content should not be tied up in a sea of legal red tape. It is already in the hands of Hulu, and paying the licensing fees to the people who actually made the content (the SAG people) is likely akin to other online syndication agreements set up to compensate actors/etc. for replaying content. This is not brand-new to Hulu, they need to stop pretending that this is so difficult to try to mask their greed.

  21. j_rose says:

    I signed up for it because I was excited about watching it on my iPhone…and have yet to do so since I got it what, a month ago? Hmm.

  22. Jasen says:

    Yeah, I really fail to see what hulu could give me that I don’t already have (ad free) in Netflix.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      I do miss the ad “feed the pig”. I remember that from two years ago and thought it was hilarious.

  23. d0x360 says:

    If im paying $10 a month for something that also offerings a free option that for all intents and purposes is just as good them i expect their to be no commercials and no restrictions on devices. My android phone worked on Hulu for about 2 days and then they blocked android phones which are fully compatible from the site for NO REASON! There is no way id pay for content that I cant access when I want and how I want.

  24. skapig says:

    Not why why any early adopter of this service would be surprised about the small library offered by Hulu Plus. The company is very clear about what they have. You can browse the selection without paying.

    The trouble with its selection, is that Hulu Plus is still largely just the broadcast networks. There’s some retro programming, but not a lot. It can’t seem to bring in much cable content, so it doesn’t make for much of a cable replacement if there is cable programming that you enjoy. If you can do without most of Cable, stick mostly to primetime broadcast programming, and are unable to get an antenna signal then Hulu will satisfy you.

  25. Davad Sneed says:

    I’ve been trying it out and so far, so good. I have an iPhone GS, and it shows pretty well over a 3G connection (thank goodness for getting in on the unlimited plan). On a wireless network, it works even better.

    I also have Playon.tv, so I can add computer only shows to my queue there and stream them to my TV via PS3 (without needed Playstation Plus) or my iPhone, using my PC as a media server. Netflix does have a lot of streaming out there, but they are lacking in some of the newer TV content via streaming. (I have the basic 1 disc/unlimited streaming package). I can also watch the netflix on my iPhone through my Playon.tv server as well (neato).

    I don’t mind the Hulu commercials because they are short and they do seem to be targeting in on my interests. It’s more than fair if they can bring in more content (and CBS).

  26. BelleSade says:

    Since Netflix won’t stream to the US territories, I’m stuck with Hulu for certain shows. I’ll happily pay more for more content and less ads.

  27. MrEvil says:

    At least Hulu is offering a sincere and honest answer. Can’t fault them for that. But I’m not paying $10/mo to watch commercials and get only a marginal increase in available content.

  28. Gizmosmonster says:

    We enthusiastically signed up for Hulu Plus. I doubt we will continue the service. The commercials are incredibly annoying. The shows we are interested in do not offer much depth in terms of episodes available.

    It sounded like a good idea, but still needs some serious tweaking to be worth $10 a month.

  29. user54 says:

    Had it for 2 weeks, the commercials are insanely loud and take WAY too much time. I canceled the subscribtion half way through. They deactivated my PLUS and did not want to refund the remaining term. The threat of a chargeback (and the option to just allow me to finish my PLUS which I had paid for) resulted in a prorated refund. Horrible. Netflix and Amazon FTW!

  30. classic10 says:

    To sum up, they are sorry for laving a lousy product.

  31. Alessar says:

    It seems to me that Hulu Plus just isn’t worth anything.
    Hulu “classic” is a decent selection of shows that are ad-supported. Some shows are available soon after airing, some are on a week delay.
    The “plus” service simply extends the availability of episodes from (typically) the 5 most recent to the whole season; and enables streaming to certain devices like a PS3 (for a significant extra charge that, on the monthly basis, is more than the cost of HuluPlus).

    I don’t think that’s worth ANYTHING. First of all, some shows already allow more than 5 episodes. Funimation, for instance, has entire seasons of anime available to view, and usually leaves them available for 6-9 months at which point the version (dubbed or subtitled) is switched to the other format.

    Hulu used to play through the PS3 web browser but that was specifically disabled by the request of the content providers. Netflix’s comparable service is free.

    Let’s also look at what need Hulu really serves: 1) Hulu is a site where you can catch last week’s episode of a show you normally watched that you happened to miss. It lets you stay current. 2) It’s a site your friends can point a show or a clip of a show at you.

    In both cases, the same thing is true: the more episodes available the more likely that people will keep current with broadcasts of current shows or catch up their back catalog. Since ads are involved either way, the content providers are getting their money and the viewing public is getting entertainment. Anything that complicates or bottlenecks that process is a hindrance to the content providers making money.

    To put it another way, blocking the PS3 browser viewing of Hulu typifies the shortsightedness. That was done because it was feared that a Hulu experience on TV would compete with broadcast TV. In some cases it might; plenty of people like me don’t have cable. So our option is watch X show online or do without. I have plenty of options; making a show hard for me to see just means I’ll be watching someone else’s content (and ads!)

  32. wild homes loves you but chooses darkness! says:

    It might be unreasonable to be hugely dissatisfied with what Hulu Plus has to offer while the service is still in Preview. Now, the OP has every right to be concerned with it, but worrying about the value proposition before it gets finalised is a bit hasty. Hulu’s response was as direct as one can be about a situation that’s pretty obvious.

    I don’t think Hulu Plus would suit me as a cable replacement, but I don’t watch much TV at all. To replace what I take the time to watch (I have very little time to spend watching TV, and I’m not real picky… if they pull something, I’m sure I’ll just find something else), the basic Hulu service through the desktop app is more than fine for me. People who are expecting this to replace their cable offering at some ultra-low price point are a bit delusional. It’s always been true that a proper cable replacement requires a multi-step approach (XBMC-Boxee-WMC, torrents, Netflix, Hulu). Hulu Plus is nice, but it’s not going to sate anyone who really wants to consume unhealthy quantities of television.

  33. Serenefengshui says:

    I tried to sign up for Hulu plus but couldn’t–they were still “expanding the service”. oh well!

  34. wenhaver says:

    They gave me a equally lame response when I asked them why their preview period was full price. I mean, really, $10 a month for a beta? I’m interested to see where they go with it, but they need better quality streaming and more selection (where’s the USA shows?) before I even really consider it.

  35. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    So…it’s just like regular pay TV except you get to choose when you watch stuff?

    Sorry, no sale. If there are ‘a few’ ads now there will be thousands of them down the line. Just like with any other pay TV channel.

  36. Razor512 says:

    Why is it that other services can offer more content, at better quality, with out the ads and for less money?

    Hulu is just trying to cover up for their greed.

    Trying to compete with cable tv is stupid of them. If they want people to pay for their service and not torrent the shows, then they need to offer something that people will pay for.

    People will pay for convenience.

    Hulu needs th offer all of the current popular shows, may have trouble with shows on premium channels such as HBO, but every non premium channel show should be available with all current episodes available for watching.

    It doesn’t make sense to offer older episodes if you are not going to offer all of them. if I am new to a show, I wont start watching the show at the 3 season in, even if there are 4 more seasons.

    With torrents, the shows are free and commercial free and there are many torrent clients that will automatically download them when released and media players that can monitor a folder so they just appear on the list ready to watch when they are released

    If hulu has a lot to compete with. If they want to be successful, they need to offer the latest episodes of a show, at the time of airing. (if a good show comes on at 9PM, then it better be available to watch on your site at 9PM.

    or better yet since shows are pre recorded, to compete with cable tv, offer the shows at 12Am every day. so if 5 good shows are scheduled to come on at a certain day, then offer them all at the start of the day. Online allows you to watch shows at your own schedule. if a show is pre recorded, then have it all available on the start of the day.

  37. coren says:

    Does Netflix offer episodes from current broadcast seasons? That’s the hook for HuluPlus in my mind

  38. Hakib says:

    Here’s the crux of the problem…

    With the regular Hulu service, Hulu has the upper hand… the networks all know that people are going to watch the crap out of their shows on Hulu when they’re free, even if there are commercials, because it’s free and on-demand. So the networks are willing to deal with minimal profits because, hey, its better than none at all, and Hulu does all the hard work.

    However, the way that Hulu has approached their Hulu Plus service appears to have given away their upper hand. Rather than telling the networks what they could realistically stand to make from having entire seasons on demand (read: still a lot of cash), they collaborated with the networks and appear to have asked for their opinion on what to offer, what to charge, and what to do with ads.

    Im making some big assumptions here, I know… but my point is that Hulu needs to pull out their big guns and get some more concessions from the networks, otherwise this thing is never going to work.

  39. squirrel says:

    I downloaded the Hulu app on the iPhone just to be able to give it a crappy one-star rating. Looking over the other reviews, it appears I wasn’t alone.

  40. Tankueray says:

    That’s eerily similar to the letter I received. When I got my invite, I responded with, “WTF? I have to pay for your little “preview?” to watch ads and get nothing over the free version? Why did I have to wait for a special invite if this is all it is?”
    The response was a string of excuses about deals with the networks and “this is not a beta”, and it did absolutely nothing to make me want to sign up. Two weeks later I got a reminder email that I hadn’t taken advantage of the preview yet.

    Yes, that’s pretty much what my email said, it was Friday night, i was at the bar with my ipad and got the invite and was all excited, then very, very disappointed. I really only want it to watch hulu on the iPad, but I’m not going to pay $10 a month to do it.

  41. Captain Packrat says:

    Why not offer an additional paid option to eliminate commercials entirely?

  42. duke40 says:

    I have gotten rid of my cable altogether. Between an antenna , Netflix Amazon and yes Hulu plus, I can get most of what I ever got from cable at a fraction of what I paid Comcast. I have budgeted 30 dollars a month for TV and that’s a big savings from the almost 100 dollars I was paying in the past.

  43. FrugalFreak says:

    failed service in my opinion

  44. RogueWarrior65 says:

    Yeah, I get that Hulu is trying to make money but I’m vowing to never take on another monthly fee based product ever again in my entire life. Want to know how to eliminate your debt? Simple, STOP paying for stuff every month that should be paid for ONCE. Seriously, go through your Quicken data and run a report on stuff you pay a monthly fee for. Lifelock? Feh. Hulu+? Bzzt. Netflix? Nerp. I have a hard enough time putting up with having to pay for sewer service if I haven’t used any water that month (in my shop space). Since when is every damn thing in this world acting like a utility?

  45. jiubreyn says:

    It doesn’t make sense to me to pay for something you can get for free. The content in Hulu Plus is likely to be the same that is offered for free and guess what you can still get commercials too!

  46. JMH says:

    Nice of them to respond, I suppose.

    On the other hand, I will never, ever, ever understand how anyone believes that “tailor[ing] the ad experience to your interests” makes advertising any less irritating. An ad is an ad, and I don’t care if it’s for something I need or something I have absolutely no use for, I don’t want to watch it and I will skip it whenever possible.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      I will never, ever, ever understand how anyone believes that “tailor[ing] the ad experience to your interests” makes advertising any less irritating.

      All ads are interruptions but some ads are more irritating and idiotic than others. If I have to sit through an ad I’d rather not sit through those dumbass Axe commercials or those long prescription ads for problems I don’t even have.

  47. ames says:

    I’m a little annoyed with the constant comparison to Netflix. Not everyone has it, not everyone wants it, and their streaming isn’t free. It’s included with their paid monthly subscription – which, if you get more than one disc a month, is more than the $10 Hulu is charging. And it doesn’t offer every show streaming, lots of older shows that Hulu offers aren’t included, and their streaming anime selection frankly sucks.

    I’m not a Hulu plus subscriber, and I probably won’t be because I’m not interested in what they offer. I am a Netflix subscriber and have been for years. But Netflix is not the be-all end-all for streaming content, and if I were to drop cable again, I’d probably use BOTH.

    • PunditGuy says:

      The constant comparison is because they’re the most direct competitors. Netflix, for streaming purposes, offers a significantly higher value — for many customers — than Hulu Plus at roughly the same price point. If you think Hulu’s value is superior to Netflix’s, well, you’re entitled to your wrong opinion. 8-)

  48. haymoose says:

    Wow. That is the exact same canned email they sent me.

  49. Gin&Jesus says:

    I do enjoy Hulu+, to be honest. I’ve gotten over the ads for the most part, because I understand that’s how it’s going to work. There’s a good chance I’d pay a higher amount for an ad-free experience, though.

    As far as selection, I’ve found it to be quite good with the + subscription. I have many more seasons of my favorite shows now available on demand. I think those who run Hulu are smart, but their hands are tied to an extent because of the contracts. It’s either compromise with the studio or the studio drops any deal with Hulu whatsoever. Hulu has to tread lightly so they don’t lose their partnerships, which would be a failure for everyone.

    I do believe that the comparison to Cable is a bit off… we’re inundated with commercials and still paying extremely high rates. Still yet, I’m liking Hulu+ so far. At this moment in time, it’s still worth the $10 to me.

    • Gin&Jesus says:

      and yes I understand that multiple companies partially own Hulu, but it’s still its own entity in some form, and has to make contracts and deals with other studios and networks, and likely internal contracts with those that are under the companies that own a stake in Hulu.

  50. Blious says:

    The fact that MANY, MANY people can’t stand the ad’s shows that it is an issue. For whatever reason, some people scream and yell at those people to shut up but more and more people are hating the ads every day….me included

    If I am paying, I do not want them….period. Some scream about if I have Cable….well, if Hulu gives me the content cable does….they can have ads but at this moment, Hulu’s selection is bare at best

  51. bumblefoot2004 says:

    Want content? Youtube.

  52. B* says:

    I’m still confused about cable. Why would people pay $70+ to watch commercials?

    Don’t be surprised if shows and movies start releasing DVDs/box sets almost instantly, shows start airing current seasons on Netflix (more anyway), shows and movies start airing only on Netflix. The service is so good and popular it’s stupid /not/ to put your media on it.

  53. frankz00 says:

    Terrible. I just cancelled my subscription. I WAS enjoyed back episodes of House when today I went to continue catching up I found all of them gone and only 5 episodes of the current season! This is basically what I was getting with the free version of Hulu! Why the hell would I pay for that? I’m supposed to pretend that torrents don’t exist while they charge me for limited content??? Hulu Plus had all but stopped my piracy habit but now it’s worth the effort to download since I can’t pay $10 a month to get it.

    Hulu is done. Make way for NetFlix (which I still gladly pay for)…