We have all been excited about the Criterion Collection joining with Hulu Plus. In the recent weeks, we have discussed, in length, the possibilities of having 150 movies from the Criterion Collection at our fingertips, instantly. Right now, Criterion is rolling out more and more titles to add to this 150 and by the end of 2011; Criterion/Janus will have 800+ movies available instantly. At first, I thought this was great, I love the Criterion Collection, I love watching movies instantly and I love the progress of media moving away from the physical format. But the experience I’ve had with Hulu Plus is not worth giving them $7.99 a month when I can get the same movies from Netflix (albeit in a physical form via DVDs and Blu-rays) and save a little money.
My experience with Hulu has been well documented on the podcast. Especially coming across my first hiccup with the service when I decided to take advantage of the 2-week free trial invitation from existing members. Really, it’s one month of Hulu Plus for half the price, charging $4.32 a month instead of $7.99. Technically this is free but it’s also highly misleading. The 1-week free trail is a clean 1-week of free Hulu Plus. Their wording and definition of the word ‘free’ is specious and double handed. But despite that, I pressed on, eager to get my eyeballs wrapped around Criterion/Janus releases.
After listening to my own words while putting the show together, I decided to be fair and give Hulu a second chance. I wanted to really like Hulu Plus. After recording episode 69, I spent hours on the Hulu website, adding subscriptions to my queue, adding Criterion movies to my list, learning the ins and outs of the Hulu interface. I downloaded and updated the Hulu Desktop app for Mac and decided to give it a go. And truth be told, I enjoyed my experience with Hulu Plus at first, the convenience of watching TV shows, I missed out on, not really minding the ads between commercial breaks and feeling comfortable with the Hulu interface.
TV on Hulu+
Overall, I’d say that it was mostly positive but then the bombardment of content completely turned me off. After an episode of ‘Parks and Recreation’ ended a new episode of ‘Perfect Couples’ came on. This somewhat bothered me but just shrugged it off. I just went to the next episode in my queue, but then it happened again. After watching ‘Glee’, the same episode of ‘Perfect Couples’ came on. What was going on here? Was Hulu trying to push this show on me or something? This occurrence happened to me almost every time I finished an episode of TV. If it wasn’t ‘Perfect Couples’, it was something I didn’t subscribe to or want to watch. I know Hulu wants to keep me on their site and in their app but this was just flat out annoying, enough so that I left the app or the site all together. Now you might be thinking, I’m being too nit-picky but since I pay for this experience, I want it to cater to me.
Then I realized, I really don’t take advantage of the back episodes of TV shows, I just want the current ones. So I thought, why do I pay for this? I can just watch the same content for free with regular-ass Hulu. So for my money, the plus side of the TV branch of Hulu was not worth my $7.99 a month.
MOVIES on Hulu+
And I know, you can argue that some of these movies are not available on Netflix or DVD. Movies like ‘I Was A Teenage Zombie’ and ‘Four Feathers’ are not available on DVD and are ONLY available on Hulu Plus. For some, this is completely worth it but for others, I would recommend signing up for a free trial and watching them that way and then cancel your membership. The video quality isn’t that great. To be honest, it doesn’t seem like the titles I’ve seen were in HD or even near-HD quality. I’m still not happy with the web version of Hulu, which offers the Hulu watermark on the lower left-hand corner of the screen in full screen mode. Albeit this is watermark does not appear on the Hulu Desktop and seems to be only on the web version.
There are no advantages of Hulu Plus on the TV side and if you have Netflix, upgrade to receiving a disc in the mail. It will be cheaper than having both services. Right now, there is no clean alternative to cable. I hate cable. I don’t have cable. I rely on the Internet, over-the-air TV and sports bars to receive my content. And if I do decide to sign up for a service like Netflix or Hulu Plus, it better be worth my time and money. So far, Hulu Plus hasn’t proven to me that they have a clean and seamless experience like Netflix. Netflix is the standard. Watching Criterion films on their website, Criterion.com, is still an option. The greater point is, these movies are available on other platforms and are not exclusive to Hulu (yet). Again these movies are still available on Netflix as DVDs and Blu-rays. Criterion won’t take those away. Please don’t dive in, head first, without testing the waters.