Hulu was initially a joint-venture between NBC Universal, Fox Broadcasting and Disney-ABC in 2007. As expected from a service started by TV networks, Hulu focus is on TV shows. It even offers concurrent streaming of latest episodes as they air. In comparison, Netflix and Amazon usually only carry TV shows only after they complete their run, sometimes many months later.
Hulu is a free streaming service that is supported by ads. Its viewing experience is similar to that of a regular broadcast channel, where (unskippable) ads are interspersed at regular intervals. The good thing however, is that unlike regular TV, you can see where the ads will come up; there’s also a counter that tells you how many ads will play and how many seconds are left. Like any media player, you can forward and rewind shows to your liking, but not past the next advertisement interval.
You can spring for Hulu Plus, which is a US$7.99/month paid subscription. The caveat is that Hulu doesn’t recognize non-US credit cards, so you’ll have to get a little creative, such as purchasing iTunes gift cards or Facebook gifting. It won’t get rid of the ads, but open up a wider library of shows. With the free version of Hulu, you can only view up to the last 5 episodes of a series, but with Hulu Plus, you have access to the entire back library. If a show isn’t available for streaming from Hulu, it will redirect you to the show’s parent network website. For example, looking up The Big Bang Theory will direct you to cbs.com instead. Signing into your account will not only provide a list of recommendations but also allows you to resume what you were watching previously.
Before Netflix caught up with exclusive content, Hulu was the king of the hill with original productions like Battleground and Spoilers with Kevin Smith. Hulu’s exclusive content may not be as critically acclaimed as that of Netflix, but shows like The Awesomes and Quick Draw prove there’s a reason to tune in.
Unlike Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, Hulu’s HD streams only go up to 720p. For the moment, it seems sufficient as Hulu is more focused on TV rather than movies. Hulu Plus is also available as an app on Android and iOS, but as its name implies, you must have a subscription. The free version is limited to the browser.
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