Hulu Plus Needs to Be Better than Piracy

Since the initial announcement, I’ve been pretty excited about Hulu Plus. However, only a few weeks in, I’ve already cancelled my subscription. Why? It just doesn’t do what it needs to. In fact, it’s still a hell of a lot more convenient to just download the episodes through bit torrent than to watch them on Hulu Plus. That’s a problem.

Back in June, I gave you five reasons to love Hulu Plus. I still stand by those ideas, even if they haven’t all worked out quite yet. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still potential here. There’s just a lot that needs to be improved.

I want to love Hulu Plus like I love Netflix. I want it to be convenient and consumer friendly, and I want to be able to cancel my cable TV. But it’s just not there yet. It’s not even better than theft.

The biggest problem I’ve been running into is that there’s still a significant delay on some shows. A new favorite of mine is ‘Louie’ on FX. It’s absolutely hilarious and it’s strange to watch – ‘Louie’ isn’t presented in anything close to a traditional format.

Since it’s an FX series, I have to wait eight days before I can watch each episode of ‘Louie’ on Hulu Plus. That means that my friend, who downloads it illegally, gets to watch it before I do. It’s actually faster to steal the show than to pay for it and wait a week.

The other thing I find disappointing in Hulu Plus is the quality of its HD streams. It’s not that the picture is bad – it’s fine. But I had absolutely no luck making an HD stream work. I’ve got a decent connection, more than enough bandwidth, and a computer that can handle high-definition video. Yet when it comes to Hulu Plus, I just get chunks. HD works wonderfully when I’m watching Netflix, but not Hulu Plus.

Again, to compare this with piracy, I could jump online right now and download a 720p version of any new show I want to, and it’ll play with absolutely no problem. There’s a good chance it’ll even play on my Xbox 360 or PS3. It’ll look great and play without the need to buffer even once.

These free downloads also have absolutely no commercials. Hulu Plus is supposed to have fewer interruptions than regular Hulu, but sitting through a 2 ½-minute commercial for the latest Jennifer Aniston vehicle doesn’t feel like less to me.

Obviously, there are the moral and legal issues of stealing a show. We don’t endorse illegal bit torrents here at The Bonus View, but from a practical standpoint, it’s hard to argue against them when you’re paying for the channel anyway and the legal downloading options are as inconvenient as Hulu Plus.


  1. Tim

    We don’t have Hulu, let alone Huluplus, up here in Canada. What we do have, however, are bandwidth caps. For example, most “high speed” internet plans from the major providers cap you at 50GB. Worse still, these bandwidth caps have been going down instead of up. Therefore, Huluplus would probably cost us more than $10 a month.

    Huluplus and other downloading/streaming services face a tough problem:

    *Huluplus has commercials. Illegal downloads do not.
    *Huluplus stutters while streaming. Illegal downloads do not.
    *Huluplus costs $10+ a month. Illegal downloads are free.
    Huluplus does not, as far as I’m aware, allow you to store the files and view them on multiple devices anytime you want for as long as you want. Illegal downloads allow you to do all of this.

    Does anyone see a problem with this business model?

    Here’s what I propose: Networks provide downloads of their shows on their sites. Before you can download a DRM-free copy of a show, you must login. Prior to download, you’re prompted with a message asking you to support this ad-free content. You can make any sort of donation you want quickly and easily, via credit card or Paypal. If some shows aren’t recouping their costs, a message could indicate that the show is in danger of being cancelled. Fans of the shows could literally vote with their wallets, instead of silly candy bar or lunch sandwich purchasing gimmicks.

    I know I’d contribute, but maybe that’s just me.

    • For what it’s worth, I’m stuck with a 100GB cap here in the states.

      I love the idea of saving dying shows that you have there. Maybe we’d still have ‘Firefly’ on the air if that were in place:)

      • I know when I changed from DSL to cable, I actually had to talk to three people before I found out if I had download caps or not. I download – a LOT. I LIVE off of HD Streaming media, almost. Shoot, I just pulled down a 60 gig torrent (won’t say what of here) in like 3 days.

        Luckily, my new internet provider gives me 25 meg down, 3 up, and no download caps

  2. JoeRo

    I don’t think the main problem with the Hulu Plus model is that it can’t compete with illegal downloads. Hulu Plus just sort of sucks. The free service is for most users “good enough”, and the paid service is sort of shitty. One of the major selling points is HD streaming, which is pretty crummy on Hulu Plus. When I pay for something, especially something I’ve been freely using for some time, I expect to receive some kind of added value. I just don’t see it here.

  3. I’m liking Hulu Plus for more of the back log TV shows, and for only $9.99 it isnt that big of a hit to my wallet and since we canceled cable, I have Netflix, Hulu Plus and my Slacker Radio on my Droid for 1/5 the cost of my former cable bill! 🙂

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