Offline downloads are now available from Hulu, letting subscribers save content for later viewing when they’re away from a Wi-Fi connection. The new feature means that Hulu is finally adding a convenience that both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have offered for quite some time now. Downloads are launching on iOS and iPadOS today, with Android to follow “soon.”
But there are caveats.
The most important one is that, right now, offline downloads are available exclusively to customers on Hulu’s No Ads plan. This step-up plan costs $11.99 compared to the service’s base $5.99-per-month subscription. So immediately, a whole lot of Hulu subscribers won’t have access to this feature. Ouch, yes. But it makes sense for Hulu’s business model and creates more incentive to opt for the pricier plan if eliminating ads wasn’t enough for you.
Second, there are somewhat strict restrictions on your timeframe for actually watching the stuff you download.
Viewers can download up to 25 titles across 5 different devices and will have up to 30 days to watch their downloaded content. For watched content, the download will expire two days after starting playback. After downloaded content expires, viewers can renew an expired download when online, if that content is still available on Hulu.
It’s nothing too annoying, but you’ll definitely want to stay mindful of that two-day window after you hit play on something. It might be best to wait until you’re sure you’ll make it through that show or movie before the download expires.
Hulu says it has “thousands” of titles (between TV shows and movies) that are eligible to be downloaded, but you definitely can’t grab anything and everything that’s on the service. To find content that allows offline downloading, you can tap the new downloads icon in the Hulu app and then pick “see what’s downloadable.” You’ll also see a download icon appear in search results for shows and movies that support offline viewing. Hulu’s original hits like The Handmaid’s Tale are eligible for downloads.
Downloads have been in the works at Hulu for a long time, and the company’s various deals with networks and content owners no doubt made the process a little complicated. But it’s now table stakes, with Disney+ planning to offer the convenience at launch next month.