What Is Hulu and How Does It Work?

By Jayden Andrews. March 19, 2020

There are so many streaming services in the market today, with more lined up to be launched in the coming months. There are now more streaming options for those who love watching the latest movies or want to stay updated with the popular TV series. Choosing which streaming service to subscribe to can be confusing because you need to figure out the differences and the advantages of each of your options.

One of the oldest, and most popular, streaming services today is Hulu. When users think of online streaming, Hulu is among the premium options that come to their minds. You can watch thousands of movies and hundreds of top TV shows from all over the world on any supported device. You can watch Hulu on your TV, on your computer, or even on your mobile device while you’re on the bus or on the train.

This guide will explain in detail what Hulu is, what you can watch on this streaming service, how it works, and how much it costs per month.

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What Is Hulu?

Hulu is an on-demand online video streaming service that allows users to watch popular movies and TV shows in the U.S. and Japan, with plans for international expansion this coming 2021. Co-owned by The Walt Disney Company and Comcast, Hulu primarily features streaming of newer TV series from several well-known network broadcasters. It also offers access to thousands of original content, blockbuster movies, independent films, and documentaries.

The Hulu platform differs from other popular streaming websites, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, in that it provides users with earlier access to the hottest series from various traditional networks. Instead of waiting for months or weeks for the latest episodes, you typically only need to wait for a week, or a few days in some cases, to be able to watch the latest episodes after they were aired.

Unlike cable, you don’t have to worry about hidden fees, installation appointments, equipment rentals, and other fees associated with having a cable subscription. With Hulu, you can watch your favorite videos at home or on the go using your favorite streaming devices.

Hulu has been around since 2007 and has now more than 28 million users, plus the 2.7 million viewers of Hulu’s Live TV. Hulu has a huge library of content that users can choose from, with more than 2,500 movies and 40,000 episodes from thousands of TV shows. Users can choose to stream the videos online or download them for offline viewing.

The offline viewing feature was recently added last year, an option that has been most anticipated by Hulu users since it has been available on other streaming services for years. Users can download up to 25 movies or episodes across five streaming devices. However, you only have up to 30 days to watch the downloaded content before Hulu automatically deletes them from your device. If you want to enjoy this feature, you need to be subscribed to Hulu’s ad-free plans, though.

Hulu has a growing collection of exclusive content, such as the award-winning TV drama series, The Handmaid’s Tale, the hip-hop docuseries Wu Tang: An American Saga, the political docuseries Hillary, the crime series The Act, and a lot more.

What Is Hulu Live TV?

Aside from the full streaming package offered by Hulu, there is also the Hulu TV that is worth looking into. What is Hulu TV? Also dubbed as Hulu + Live TV, this feature is probably the most unique plan offered by Hulu. In other words, Hulu Live TV is like a cable package bundled with the full video-on-demand library. This allows Hulu subscribers to stream live and on-demand TV programming from its more than 60 channels, including local sports and news channels, plus all the content you have access to using Hulu’s on-demand package mentioned above.

With Hulu Plus TV, you can stream popular channels, such as CNN, Fox, CBS, ABC, Disney Junior, Disney Channel, ESPN, ESPN 2, and ESPN News. You’ll also have access to other great non-fiction channels, including Animal Planet, Nat Geo Wild, National Geographic, and the Smithsonian channel. There are also channels that cater to a specific audience, including TLC, Investigation Discovery, Golf, Motor Trend (formerly Velocity), and Food Channel.

Hulu + Live TV works just like other services, such as Sling TV or YouTube TV, where users can access live programming even without a cable or satellite subscription. This feature is a great idea because it distinguishes Hulu + Live TV from other run-of-the-mill streaming services. However, this feature still needs a lot of work. One pitfall of the Hulu + Live TV is that the streaming quality for live programming may not be as good as a cable subscription. You may also notice a slower internet connection, particularly during high-traffic periods. This does not affect all channels, however, so you can browse the programs to find one with better quality.

If you’re using a computer to stream, go to the Hulu + Live TV website. Log into your account to see your options for on-demand content that are available for traditional Hulu subscriptions. You should also see a Live TV button at the top of the screen to access live programming. As the service migrates from the traditional to a full experience, some users are expected to run into problems depending on the streaming device being used.

If the streaming device used only supports the older version of Hulu, you might experience some issues as new layouts and features are slowly integrated. However, if you’re using a device that supports the new version of Hulu, then you shouldn’t run into problems. Hulu also continues to release updates to improve its new user interface, so users can expect a better and smoother streaming experience using the new Hulu.

Right now, Hulu Live TV is only available in the US. If you want to access this feature, you will need to use a reliable VPN to mask your IP address. Don’t think about using a free VPN because you’ll just be blocked by the server. Using the best VPNs should give you enough coverage and protection to access the blocked Hulu Live TV.

Which Streaming Devices Support Hulu?

Just like other streaming services, the Hulu and Hulu + Live TV apps are available on various streaming devices, including Android and iOS devices, Mac and PC browsers, selected LG and Samsung smart TVs, Nintendo Switch, select models of Android TV, 4th generation or later version of the Apple TV, Chromecast, Echo Show, Fire Tablets, Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, iPads and tablets, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, select models of Roku and Roku Stick, VIZIO SmartCast TVs, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

Unfortunately, older platforms and devices, such as the PlayStation 3, are missing out on a complete Hulu experience as the service continues to upgrade. Other users are also stuck on Hulu’s classic app, which does not have the new features and the live TV option. These devices that are stuck with the classic app include Wii U, select Vizio TVs, TiVo, and some Blu-ray players from Samsung, Sony, and LG.

How Does Hulu work?

If you’ve used a streaming service before, you’ll be able to understand how Hulu works. Learning its quirks, however, might take you a few hours of tinkering with the app. Hulu organizes its content in a way that you won’t see TV shows when you’re looking at movies and vice versa. The categories are separated so that you won’t be confused when searching for the content that you want. And just like other streaming services, Hulu where you left off in each episode or how far you’ve watched. It also comes up with a list of favorites that you can see at the top of your screen whenever you launch the app.

Using Hulu provides hours of entertainment

Even with the ad-supported package, Hulu still aims to give users an ideal streaming experience. Instead of delivering several ads in the middle of the video, Hulu allows you to watch one long ad at the start of the episode or the movie so that you get to enjoy an uninterrupted viewing experience.

After finishing a video or an episode, Hulu then recommends another TV show or movie based on your viewing habits. The most convenient feature of the service is its capability to resume where you left off in case you close the app while in the middle of an episode or a movie. When you launch the app next time, Hulu immediately asks if you would like to continue what you were watching. This is convenient for those who usually doze off in the middle of watching a movie.

In terms of content searching, Hulu makes it easier for users to discover the content that they’re looking for, even if you’re not sure you want to watch them. The app provides suggestions based on your preferences and its deep category options allow you to go through the content listings according to Genre to Release Company, or other categories.

Hulu is also home to most of FX’s streaming library, with more than 40 FX series streaming in HD. FX has a very diverse library is and it has a little something for everyone. If you like comedy, you can try Archer or It’s Always Sunny in Philidelphia. For those who enjoy violent thrillers, the American Horror Story and Nip Tuck should give you the adrenaline rush you are looking for. And if you’re in the mood for some crime stories, the Sons of Anarchy and Damages are just some of the options worth watching.

You also have the option to add on the Showtime catalog for a$10.99 per month. This allows you to enjoy the premium cable service’s original programming and Showtime movies even if you’re not subscribed to the cable service.

To keep up with Netflix, one of its major competitors, Hulu introduces a wide range of British shows that can only be accessed using the Hulu app, particularly Moony and The Wrong Mans. Whatever you want to watch, there’s definitely something for your taste on Hulu.

How Much Does Hulu Cost Per Month?

When Hulu started out, it used to offer a free but limited version of its catalog of content, but that is no longer applicable today. In 2016, the platform switched to an entirely subscription-based model, getting rid of the free, ad-supported platform. But by partnering with Yahoo, Hulu was able to move some of its free content to Yahoo View.

The traditional Hulu streaming service is divided into two tiers — the ad-supported and the ad-free packages. The ad-supported plan costs $5.99 per month, following a price drop of $2 per month. The ad-supported plan allows you to watch unlimited hit movies, exclusive series, Hulu originals, and kids shows. The second tier, the ad-free plan, costs $11.99 per month. You can stream unlimited content with no ad interruptions. Both these packages come with the free first month.

Hulu + Live TV is available for $54.99 per month, which was initially $45. This includes the ad-supported streaming option, 50 hours of cloud DVR, and the multi-screen streaming feature. If you don’t want to see ads while watching, you can add another $6 on top of the monthly subscription fee. You only get a one-week free trial when you sign up for Hulu + Live TV.

Hulu Add-Ons

You can spend hours of binge-watching on Hulu, but you can enjoy more content through premium channels offered as add-ons. If your motivation for choosing Hulu is to save on money, then you might want to skip this part. Add-ons can be quite pricey, but they are sure worth their fees. Aside from traditional packages, Hulu subscribers can now add monthly subscriptions for premium channels, including HBO for $15, Cinemax for $10, STARZ for $9, or Showtime for $9. Hulu also offers a bundled package that includes the ad-supported Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ for $12.99/month.

For users who are subscribed to the Hulu + Live TV and find the 50 hours of online cloud storage lacking, they can purchase an additional 200 hours of online DVR storage space for just $15 per month. This add-on comes with a limit of two screens for simultaneous streaming. If you want to upgrade to unlimited screens at home, or three screens on-the-go, you need to pay an additional $15. If you want both of these add-ons, Hulu slashes $10 off the price, bringing the price down to $20 instead of $30 per month on top of your monthly subscription.

If you don’t have a cable subscription, these add-ons could be worthwhile additions to your original plan. You can enjoy access to unlimited hours of content, including original series that can’t be found elsewhere.

What Is on Hulu?

At the end of the day, Hulu is still an on-demand streaming and TV service, and what matters in such a platform is the content library. Hulu has a huge collection of content but is the number of movies and TV shows enough to reflect the quality of the content.

When it comes to TV shows, we can vouch for the quality of the episodes. It has an interesting collection of animated series for those who are interested in this genre. Users can binge-watch series like Daria, Futurama, The Simpsons, and South Park while also catching up on newer shows like Rick and Morty, Adventure Time, and Gravity Falls. If you’re a fan of Japanese anime, popular titles such as One-Punch Man, Sailor Moon, Code Geass, Attack on Titan, and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure should whet your appetite.

The catalog for the live-action show also strives to keep up with the competition. Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Office (UK), and Parks and Recreation will surely lighten your mood and make you laugh. If you’re thirsting for mystery and thrillers, classics like the Twin Peaks and The X-Files should be able able to quench your thirst. For Sci-fi fans, great titles like Star Trek: The Next Generation, Firefly, and Battlestar Galactica should give you hours of entertainment.

Aside from the hottest TV shows and popular movies, there are also Hulu Originals that are attention-grabbing. Although Hulu might be a bit behind Netflix when it comes to original shows, there are still some noteworthy offerings you can watch on the platform. The most popular would be the drama, The Handmaid’s Tale, which is based on the popular Margaret Atwood novel with the same title. You should also check out the original period drama, Harlots, set in 18th century London.

Finally, let’s check out what Hulu’s movie catalog has to offer. Compared to other streaming services, Hulu falls a bit short in this category. You can find a lot of classic movies, but there are lesser great titles compared to Netflix or Amazon Prime.

In fact, you will find a lot of subpar comedies, soapy dramas, and cheesy Christmas movies that most viewers would just skip over when choosing what to watch. Recent blockbusters, such as Spiderman: Homecoming, are primarily advertised on the movies section, but are only available through the STARZ add-on, which costs $8.99/month.

You can still find some interesting titles, but Hulu’s new movie collection is a bit lacking compared to its competitors. This is probably one of the downsides of using a cheap streaming service like Hulu. However, if you really want to watch the newest flicks and you don’t mind spending some extra money, you can access these popular titles with add-ons like HBO, Starz, and Cinemax.

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