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I’m sure you have read Internet comments claiming that competition makes everything better. That’s an oversimplification. Competition has forced tech companies to overpromise and under deliver. They’re dreaming up features that no one cares about while adding unnecessary complexity to the code base. Too much reliance on automated testing has resulted in products that are far less reliable than their predecessors.
When Hulu works, it works well. I am about 20 days into my free trial and there have already been three outages during prime time. I launch the app and Hulu is unavailable. It usually works within 30 minutes, but one evening they left me high and dry. I ended up watching Beetlejuice on Crackle, as I had no other active subscriptions. (Crackle is actually an excellent content provider, and the service is completely free.)
Beyond outright outages, Hulu also suffers from videos that just won’t play, often for some unknown reason. I tried to watch one show and, after several attempts over a few days, it finally worked.
Live TV is smooth and offers excellent picture quality. It looks better than what most digital cable companies can deliver. Apple deserves some credit, for creating a lean, efficient stack of technology. That said, Hulu’s operations function quite well. It felt like I was watching cable TV, but the picture quality was better.
Keep in mind, cable isn’t perfect either. I cut the cord years ago, but I still use cable when I visit family. Cable TV has all sorts of problems with picture quality, dropouts and missing on demand options. Even Hulu couldn’t design a user interface as awkward and ham-fisted as most digital cable systems.
Competing cable-over-the-Internet services also suffer from the same reliability woes. It’s the new normal for high-tech, but cable has always been unreliable. That’s why I cut the cord. I got sick of waiting around for the cable guy to show up, every month, because there was something wrong with the distribution box. Hulu would have to fail spectacularly to be worse than my experience with Comcast.
Hulu with Live TV: Channel Lineup
Deficiencies in channel lineups is a problem common to all cable-over-the-Internet services. Hulu is no exception. This is not their fault. Viacom is playing hard ball and charging exorbitant fees to stream their channels. Most streaming TV services are missing Viacom channels. Although Hulu offers my local CBS affiliate, I cannot watch Comedy Central or AMC. They do offer some Comedy Central shows on demand, but you’re better off just using the Comedy Central app (even if you don’t activate it with your TV provider). As for AMC, if you want to watch Breaking Bad, Mad Men or The Walking Dead, you’re out of luck. Hulu does have Fear the Walking Dead available on demand. The spin-off isn’t as good as the original.
Overall, the lineup includes about 70 channels, depending on your location. Hulu offers local channels based on where you live. The strange thing is that channels can disappear. For example, CNN will often just vanish. (It must be those pesky Russian hackers that they’re so obsessed about.) I still have CNN International, but CNN appears and disappears randomly. next page →