I just finished watching the latest episode of The Event on my Sony Blu-ray Disc player, using Hulu Plus streaming video. It played well with a clear HD picture, and it was nice to sit in front of the TV to watch it, rather than at a computer.
Despite that good experience, Hulu Plus falls short in other areas. For one, the presence of ads, even with a $10 per month subscription, is just annoying, and the ads seem to take longer to load on the TV than they do on the computer, making the wait time to get back to a show significant, especially when an ad comes up after every normal commercial break.
The ad issue aside, the biggest problem with Hulu Plus is mostly about content. While I found The Event, I did not find Community. On the other hand, 30 Rock, which airs on the same channel, on the same night as Community is available for this season and previous ones. Similarly, you can watch Law & Order: SVU but not Law & Order: Los Angeles. These inconsistencies are compounded when you consider that some shows are available through Hulu Plus on the computer but not on other devices. If you go to Hulu’s website, these unavailable shows will have disclaimers offering excuses about licensing.
Unfortunately, the lack of enough quality content and the ridiculous inconsistencies mentioned above are deal breakers. Hulu Plus is close to being a legitimate replacement for a cable TV subscription, but it fails, presumably because the very networks that own Hulu refuse to give it the full content lineup it needs to compete. Meanwhile, you can easily go to a BitTorrent site and find every episode of every show, commercial free. How do these companies expect to fight piracy when the pirates offer better service?
Some of the shows unavailable through Hulu are available through Netflix, and even many that are not available through either are available through Amazon On-Demand (at the absurd price of $2.99 per episode). When will these networks get it right? I would be willing to pay $30 per month for on-demand TV. I’m not talking about 50 channels filled with shows here or anything near what people get with a cable subscription. I would be happy with a 12 show allowance, but the key is being able to watch the shows I want, not what they tell me is available.
I will most likely not renew my Hulu Plus subscription, and that really is a shame. I had high hopes for it, but it’s just not good enough.