When Hulu Plus was announced for Xbox Live last year I, like many people, was fairly excited for it. This past Friday, we finally saw the release of it on the marketplace. It was supposed to be able to compete with the very popular Netflix instant streaming service but so far it is nowhere near the same level of quality.
Hulu Plus promised to deliver full seasons of TV shows to instant stream, what we got are partial seasons and seasons that come in half way through. While it has a large variety of shows and many popular ones, such as Glee, The Office and House; it does not, however, have any shows from some other networks like CW or Cartoon Network. Netflix, on the other hand, offers everything from toddler’s shows to R-rated and Unrated movies.
The organization of the episodes in a season is practically non-existent. Many shows, after choosing the season, just give you a list of episodes in no particular order. Trying to watch anything sequentially is a pain, especially when you have to search through a list for the third episode which could turn up three-fourths of the way down. Hulu Plus has already been on the Playstation 3 for close to a year now so you would expect them to have it better organized. For many shows, Netflix offers every season they have available in one organized list instead of having the seasons split up.
The party system that Netflix introduced is fantastic, even though it can be slightly buggy sometimes. When Hulu Plus launched I was expecting, and hoping, to be able to watch my favorite shows with my friends. This expectation was shot down immediately. When even Indie Games can offer some form of online interaction, lacking any type of party system is a huge turn-off and disappointment.
The biggest negative to Hulu Plus is most likely the advertisements that are part of everything you watch. I can understand having the ads on the web but when you are paying $8.00 a month for the service this is simply unacceptable. If they were shorter it wouldn’t be as much of an issue but when you have a 30 second ad at the beginning and in the middle of a show, not to mention anytime you skip ahead, it gets very annoying.
Hulu Plus has a lot of potential, don’t get me wrong, but there is not anything that would keep me paying for it right now. If they work on the organizational issues and remove the ads that will be a nice start. If a party system was to show up and they got more networks it would be a definite seller. In the future, Hulu Plus could very well be good competition for Netflix but at its current state it is not and people are better off paying the $8.00 a month for the latter.