Hulu passes 20 million US subscribers, says offline downloads are coming

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Hulu today announced that it now has over 20 million subscribers in the United States. That's up from the 17 million that the company reported back in January. So between the start of the year and now, Hulu has brought on 3 million more paying customers. The company says “total engagement: is up by 60 percent. That 20 million total is spread across Hulu's various service tiers including its core ad-supported service, Hulu with No Commercials, and Hulu with Live TV. Hulu still trails Netflix in subscriber count by a wide margin. In its Q1 2018 earnings, Netflix tallied 55 million US streaming customers.

A new combo subscription with Spotify is certain to help boost Hulu’s momentum, but most people aren’t streaming Hulu on their smartphones. The bulk of Hulu viewing takes place in the living room; 78 percent of streaming happens on connected TVs, according to today’s press release.

Hulu also revealed that a new “ad-supported downloadable content experience” is coming. It will allow subscribers to store content on their device to watch when they’re without a Wi-Fi or mobile data connection. Netflix added an offline mode in November 2016, and I’ve routinely asked Ben Smith — Hulu’s VP of user experience — when the company would offer its own equivalent. The answer has always been that it’s something Hulu is interested in and looking at, with no firm timetable given for when it might arrive. Now it seems we’re getting somewhere.

Hulu is going to make customers on its base subscription sit through ads in exchange for the convenience of watching something offline, saying “the new feature will make it possible for subscribers to access their favorite shows and movies on the go, with no internet connection required, and will give advertisers the opportunity to reach their target audiences in a viewing experience never before available to advertisers.” I’m not sure what that last bit will look like in practice, but hopefully these ads won’t be too bothersome.

If you pay for Hulu sans commercials, you won’t see any ads with your offline downloads. Just note that like Netflix, it’s also very possible that only some of the content in Hulu’s catalog will be eligible for downloads.

Update May 2nd 11:15AM ET: Added clarification that Hulu with No Commercials won’t include advertising for offline viewing.

Comments

"The new feature will make it possible for subscribers to access their favorite shows and movies on the go, with no internet connection required, and will give advertisers the opportunity to reach their target audiences in a viewing experience never before available to advertisers."

Hopefully, that means that only those who are on the ad-supported subscription will see offline ads, and this will not affect those of us who pay extra not to see ads.

I’m glad they’re adding this feature but will be mad if they include ads for users that are paying extra to not see them.

I highly doubt Hulu would do something that stupid. Can’t rule anything out though, as Snapchat bringing back out those spectacles is just as dumb as this would be for Hulu.

I’ve added some clarification here. If you pay extra for the Hulu with No Commercials plan, offline viewing won’t have ads.

It’s also very possible that, like Netflix, only some of the content in Hulu’s catalog will be eligible for downloads.

I’m just going to take a wild guess and say that HBO content (if you have the HBO add-on) will be part of the "non-downloadable" library.

This article makes no mention of the fact that Hulu stated back in January 2017 that offline viewing is "something that we’re going be doing in a few months. We’re working hard on the technology around that and getting the rights squared away." But after that never made another public comment about it. It might be worth the mention in this article, as this is not something newly announced, but rather a feature they have long dragged their feet on.

Did Hulu give any reason that this time around they actually will be doing offline viewing?

https://www.theverge.com/2017/1/18/14311718/hulu-offline-playback-coming-few-months-update

Their two big competitors (Netflix and Amazon) both have offline capability. My guess is that the delay has been related to the ad-supported tier. Spotify, for example, only allows offline listening with the premium, ad-free tier. Hulu likely did not want to make this a no-ads only feature.

They should be working on giving us 5.1 surround sound.

Still wondering what’s going on with their plans for more 4K content and device support…

I’m not sure how ads would work offline. Don’t they need metrics on the ad being viewed? How does a company that pays to put an ad on Hulu know that it was watched if it’s offline?

That was probably the reason they delayed it. The refresh last year moved most of their platform in house (it was originally through Verizon/Oath).

I’m sure the ad is attached to the download. A download would, therefore, = a watched ad by their new standards…

I guarantee you, HULU is committing fraud and lying about their subscriber numbers. They got nailed by mainstream conservatives and 2nd amendment supporters that dumped hulu in response to the Laura Ingraham boycott.
The only question now is, when will they be outed for lying?

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