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Hulu adds a simple, straightforward channel guide to live TV on the web

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The company continues to work at improving live experience

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Six months after launching its live TV service, Hulu is acknowledging that the completely redesigned app introduced alongside it still has plenty of room for improvement. The company has made numerous updates to the user experience since May; Hulu now does a better job of highlighting new episodes and surfacing important live events like sports games. But today it’s making another move: the web version of Hulu’s live TV player is getting a very straightforward channel guide. “One of our key learnings from our Live TV viewers is that our live content feels, at times, hidden or harder to get to than you would like,” Ben Smith, Hulu’s head of experience, wrote in a blog post.

“We know that many of you love the new UI, but we also know that many of you miss having a channel guide for Live TV,” Smith said. “So, on the web experience for live TV, we have enhanced the UI to make it easier to see what’s on now, what’s on next, and change the channel while you watch and plan for your afternoon or night of TV.”

You can bring up the new guide from the new icon in the lower left corner while watching live TV or just “hover your cursor near the left side of the browser window.” It displays what’s currently on for each channel, and you can click the right arrow next to each show to see what’s up next.

Right now, the new guide is exclusively available on Hulu’s web player, which itself remains in beta at the moment. “Today, the dynamic guide is available on the web and we are eager to learn how you use it before we roll it out to additional platforms in the coming months,” Smith said.

So everyone using Hulu on mobile devices, streaming boxes, and game consoles won’t see it. For them, the closest equivalent is either the “My Channels” section on the primary Home tab or a more exhaustive listing of every live channel under “Networks” in the Browse section. But it seems likely that Hulu aims to bring this guide to more platforms in a way that fits each one appropriately.

Despite a fair amount of criticism that has been directed at the new Hulu design, Smith says the changeover has already produced good results. “On average, viewers are spending 5 percent more time with Hulu and consuming a greater number of newly discovered TV series and movies,” he said. And more recent improvements have seen viewership of live content jump by 70 percent since August.