Hulu is an online video service that offers on-demand streaming content including popular TV shows, movies, and other clips from many networks including FOX, ABC, and NBC. The Hulu team shares the company with The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal, News Corporation, and Providence Equity Partners. Hulu provides several options for a subscription model: a $7.99/month option with advertisements, or a $11.99/month option with no advertisements. As of 2018, Hulu also partners with Spotify and offers student subscribers of Spotify free access to Hulu content by linking their account details between services and is Spotify rolling out the bundled service to all premium subscribers of their platform for an additional fee. Hulu presents ethical concerns by allowing users to piggyback off of a friend's account information and take advantage of Hulu's streaming services without actually paying for them since there is no limit to how many people can be streaming from one account at a single time.
- 1 History
- 2 Company Mission
- 3 Versions
- 4 Availability
- 5 Content
- 6 Advertising
- 7 Ethical Implications
- 8 Hulu Competitors
- 9 See Also
- 10 External Links
- 11 References
Hulu, literally meaning "gourd" or "interactive recording" in Mandarin, was founded in March of 2007 in partnership with AOL, Comcast, MSN, MySpace, and Yahoo. It started with an invitation-based beta testing only available in the U.S. Jason Kilar was appointed CEO in 2007. In October 2017, Randy Freer became the CEO.  Additionally, in 2007 Hulu won "Best Video Startup" at the 2007 Crunchies, an event sponsored by TechCrunch, GigaOm, and VentureBeat. Mike Hopkins was appointed the new CEO of Hulu in October of 2013.
On March 12th, 2008, Hulu opened its services to the U.S. public, starting with over 250 T.V. shows and 100 movies from FOX, NBC, and their affiliated channels. Hulu's headquarters are located in Santa Monica, California. In 2008, The Walt Disney Company became an equity owner of Hulu, adding many of Disney's most popular shows including shows like Lost, Grey's Anatomy, and Desperate Housewives. In late 2008, a "Discussions" tab was also added underneath the video player that allowed users to engage in discussion.
In 2011, the Hulu Plus app was created for Android smartphones. The app was originally designed for the Nexus One, Nexus S, HTC Inspire 4G, Motorola Droid II, Motorola Droid X, and the Motorola Atrix, but by the end of the year, was available on over 200 million devices including Microsoft's Xbox 360, other types of smartphones, and tablets such as the Barnes and Noble's NOOK tablet and Amazon's Kindle Fire. Hulu also launched in Japan in late 2011, the year when they began allowing users to have access to show programs limited to four devices for one monthly price.
Hulu launched Hulu AdZone, presented by Toyota, which offered all of the Super Bowl ads going back as far as 1973.
On April 17th, 2012, Hulu announced a "100% Completion Rate" deal with advertisers using their services - if advertisements were not streamed until they were finished, advertisers were not charged. Previously available for Microsoft's Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii, on September 10th, 2012, Hulu Plus became available on the third major gaming platform: Sony's PlayStation 3.
As of 2011, Hulu Plus has 1.5 million subscribers, making it the fastest video subscription service to reach that number in U.S. history. In 2012, Hulu added its own original programming, including the Hulu original sitcom, "Battlefield," which premiered in February.
People employed by Hulu, known as Hulugans, enjoy many perks of the Hulugan Life. Hulu's Company focuses on six main core values: Collaboration, Empowerment, Individuality, Wellness, Fun, and Transparency.
Hulu works across teams to complete projects together and achieve this through an environment where all members of the team work together. They do this because they recognize that "no show gets made with just one person in the credits" . To really give employees the sense of an open work environment, no employee has their own office, not even the CEO. Additionally, Hulu hosts regular sessions like lunchtime events for team members to share their knowledge and learn from one another as well as assessments to help teams collaborate more efficiently.
Hulu strives to assist their employees in building a career that fits their aspirations and talents. They have instilled diverse training resources that will facilitate all Hulugans in their own professional development. They also provide their employees with free screenings of the newest shows, Q&As with casts, and free Hulu subscriptions.
Once a Hulugan, employee members have a professional photo shoot to display their individuality in a photo. These photos are framed and hung along the walls of the offices in all locations. Hulu even hangs the photos of temporary interns, displaying that all members are valuable to the team. Hulu also has various clubs that team members can join, such as the Run Club.
Hulu's philosophy on wellness entends beyond just your physical health . This company supports their employees in their physical health, mental health, emotional health, and their overall well-being. They offer flexible hours and vacation time, kitchens sticked with food in the offices, free on-site classes such as fitness or cooking classes, desks that you can stand at if you prefer not to sit, and lastly, a monthly stipen to use on whatever allows that particular employee to "Be Well."
There are various game rooms in the offices for employees to reward themselves with a little bit of fun after finishing a task. They are also notorious for putting on great events and parties for employees, such as Huluween parties and other holiday parties.
Hulu's leaders strive to be accessible to all employees by hosting meetings with interactive questions and answers to discuss updates in the company. They also partake in Coffee Talks via FaceTime so that employees all across the globe are able to communicate with one another.
Hulu Plus is a paid, monthly-subscription version of Hulu that now services over 2 million customers. It first launched its beta on June 29th, 2010 and was officially released to the public on November 17, 2010. Oddly enough, Hulu Plus still serves commercials to its paid-users despite their status as committed subscribers, something that bothers many, since accessing the service costs $7.99 per month. However, Hulu Plus does offer a larger, more thorough library of content to its paid-users, including fuller seasons and extra episodes of shows that Hulu-free does not provide. Finally, Hulu Plus also unlocks access to the Hulu app for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, transforming the streaming service a portable experience.
Hulu Plus - Ad Free
In September 2015, Hulu's stakeholders responded to critics' complaints that they still served advertisements even to paying customers. In doing so, they introduced a second, more expensive paid version of the service that costs $11.99 per month (rather than the cheaper $7.99 option) but resists serving advertisements to viewers (while the cheaper version still provides "limited advertisements"). Still, some primetime shows — such as New Girl, Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder, Grey’s Anatomy, and Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. — feature 15-second pre-roll ads or 30-second post rolls, complicating the image of Hulu's advertisement-free business model. 
Hulu recently introduced a beta version of Hulu Desktop, a free application that provides Hulu content using a PC or Mac remote and does not require the use of a web browser. No account is needed to use Hulu Desktop; it will be equipped with all of the same content from online sources. It is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs. These videos can be viewed in all definitions, up to 1080p.
Hulu Publisher Tools
Hulu Publisher Tools, designed for bloggers and webmasters, makes it easy to embed Hulu content into articles and blog posts. It also serves as a directory of the most relevant and popular videos on Hulu accessible at any time.
Cable Replacement Package
Hulu recently released a live tv package for $39.99 a month which rivals most major cable networks. Some of its most notable features include its ability to broadcast live tv over the internet, the plan includes over 50 top channels from sports, news, and any available local tv channels depending on your zip code. It also includes the ability to add services such as SHOWTIME, HBO and CINEMAX. This new feature allows Hulu to compete with most notable network companies which up until now have enjoyed relatively little competition from online streaming companies.
Currently, Hulu is only available in the United States and Japan. However, there are many users who get around this limitation by using proxy servers and VPNs. Exclusive deals for the digital rights of many U.S. shows would make it difficult for Hulu to go global. However, Kilar has said, "We won't be satisfied until this is a global service". Hulu's latest step in achieving this goal was making a deal with FremantleMedia Enterprises to distribute its original shows outside the U.S.
The free version of Hulu is only available on a computer or laptop; however, Hulu Plus is supported and available on a multitude of devices. The list includes the Apple TV, iPad and iPhone, Roku, Samsung Smart TVs, and Blu-ray Disc Players, Sony BRAVIA Internet-Enabled Devices, Sony PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, VIZIO, Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 and XBOX ONE. Hulu is also available on the Google Play store, making it usable on many different Andriod operated devices. Paying for Hulu Plus allows subscribers to access all of Hulu has to offer on their TV via a home entertainment device or on their mobile devices. However, people without Hulu Plus who wish to watch shows via the free version of Hulu on their TV can also do so by connecting their computers to their TVs with an HDMI cable or another connector.
Original content has made a major push within video streaming services, such as Hulu and Netflix. These are just a few of the many original shows created by Hulu.
The Mindy Project
While it originally premiered on Fox, The Mindy Project became a Hulu original for its 4th season. It is a single-camera comedy following a OB/GYN played by Mindy Kaling. She dreams of becoming the perfect woman, finding the perfect man, and getting a romantic comedy ending, and the show follows her personal and professional life in the quest to meet these goals.
This eight-part mini-series - which was funded by Hulu, and premiered on the platform on February 15, 2016 - is based on a novel by Stephen King. The show was also produced by J.J. Abrams, directed by Jonathan Demme, and it stars James Franco as a high-school English teacher who travels back in time to try to prevent then-president John F. Kennedy from being assassinated. The original novel - which runs an entire 849 pages long - reportedly "sold by the millions" and even inspired The New York Times to name it as one of the five best fiction books of 2011. During the television series' creation, King is said to have had "complete veto power over the script, the cast and nearly every aspect of the production," though he apparently rarely exercised these authorities. The series received a cumulative rating of 79% on Rotten Tomatoes, representing its average score from television critics around the country.
Harlots follows Margaret Wells, a woman attempting to juggle running a brothel and being the mother to two daughters. She also has to handle Lydia Quigley, a rival brothel owner who is mean and ruthless, and attempt to save her business, potentially at the sake of her family and her life.
The Path looks at a family who is involved in a controversial cult movement starring Aaron Paul, Michelle Monaghan, and Emma Greenwell. It examines belief and choosing to live life the way we want as it follows the family's struggle with relationships, faith, and power.
The Handmaid's Tale
The plot follows a dystopian future in following the Second American Civil War in which women called "Handmaids" are forced into lives of child-bearing and sexual slavery. After the Civil War, fertility rates drop as a result of an increase in sexually transmitted diseases and environmental pollution. The Christian theonomic government of "Gilead" establishes rule in the United States and the handmaids are assigned to the ruling elite in order to become sex slaves in order to produce children for government officials and their wives.
Battleground is a show about political workers trying to get an underdog candidate elected in Wisconsin, a battleground state. They use social media, the 24-hour news cycle, and new media to navigate state politics, while a documentary crew documents the behind the scenes look at young people trying to make a difference.
Some more of the Hulu original series include:
- The Morning After
- A Day in the Life
- Quick Draw
- Mother Up!
In 2010, Hulu reported that it averaged $0.143 in revenue from ads per episode watched, and in 2011, Hulu generated the highest number of video ads in the U.S. at 963 million ads viewed. Hulu also began asking users to rate whether or not ads were relevant to them - ads deemed irrelevant would be replaced with different ones. Hulu offers a multitude of deals for advertisers to choose from. There are many layouts of different advertisements, as well as different skins that they can choose from for users to view.
With Hulu advertising, companies can target specific demographics. Hulu offers its viewers choice-based advertisements. This means that users can select which type of advertisement they want to view. For companies that use the choice-based advertisement option, their advertisement may not have as big of a reach but they can be surer that the people that are seeing their advertisement will have more interest in the product. Hulu also takes pride in their “proprietary ad serving technology.” For viewers, this means that the advertisements that they will be seeing will be “more relevant, more engaging, and ultimately more effective.” Hulu has shown data that reports that advertising on Hulu is more successful and effective than traditional TV advertising. These are the various ad formats that advertisers can utilize:
- 7-Second Commercial
- This is a quick way to build your brand name and increase awareness of the company.
- 15- Or 30-Second Commercial
- Custom Video
- Ad Selector
- Your advertisement would compete with other ads. It will be presented to the user with two or three other options and the user will choose which ad they would like to view. Users will be able to pick which ad to watch based on a thumbnail from the commercial.
- Branded Entertainment Selector (BES)
- Users will watch one long advertisement at the beginning of the shows instead of the regular variety of short ads throughout the show.
- A standard logo splash that will be shown to the user before the show begins.
- Premium Slate
- Instead of just a static logo image before the show, it will be a seven-second advertisement that appears before the show starts.
- Action Bar
- This is a standard banner-like advertisement. The user can click on the banner and open up the full advertisement. From there, there might be more clickable options.
In addition, Hulu Plus continues to broadcast advertisements in between show content, even though it is a premium paid service. This has caused a lot of customers to be upset about paying for advertisements. Hulu has even fought against ad-blocking software by creating a blank screen during the commercial breaks that lasts for minutes instead of 30 seconds, telling users to disable the software. It begs the question of whether or not paying customers should have to sit through these commercials.
Hulu Sued Over New Tracking Technology
Hulu, suspended use of KISSmetrics' analytics service after it emerged in 2011 that the company was using "ETag" technology to track users even when they delete their cookies.  After this incident was reported, two consumers, Joseph Garvey and Stacey Tsan, filed lawsuits against Hulu arguing that the companies' tracking methods violate the federal Video Privacy Protection Act as well as California state laws. It was also seen that Hulu was sharing its users' information with the popular social media music platform, Spotify. Hulu was reported to have created numerous, alternative, 'shadow' mechanisms for tracking as well.
Free 30-Day Trial
Although users do not like to pay for Hulu Plus, they seem to enjoy the benefits. Users tend to create new 30-day trials online when they wish to watch something new on Hulu Plus. Hulu has not taken many precautions to enforce one free trial per person, therefore it is fairly simple to enjoy free trials with no penalty. By using a new email to sign up each time, the user may be able to enjoy all the benefits of Hulu Plus without paying for it, therefore stealing these benefits from the company.
Many people, however, see free trials as credit card traps. At the beginning of each free trails, users are required to supply their credit card information to allow the company to begin taking money once the free trial is over. The card will be charged automatically unless the user cancels the service before the 30 day period. When users forget to cancel their trials, they are charged for every additional month, which causes people to blame their wasted money on the service.
Much like its competitors Youtube and Netflix, Hulu uses an deep-learning algorithm to recommend content for its users based on what the user has clicked or viewed before. This recommendation system uses a variety of metrics in order to track a user's activity in order to provide recommendations that a user might actually view. Some of these metrics include content genre viewed, length of video watched (to avoid accidental clicks to influence the recommender system), number of videos watched of "related" content, the average rating of content, and so on. While the convenience of content recommendations makes the overall user experience of Hulu better for most, some people may not want their viewing history to influence what content is recommended on the home page. For example, if a family had a Hulu subscription and a family member was watching explicit content, that data would be taken into account in the recommender system and viewable by all with access to the Hulu account. Furthermore, recommender systems cannot predict the quality of the content of a video as it is not data that quantitative such as a piece of text, therefore many recommendations could be poor content that a user may not want to see, ruining the overall user experience.
However, profiles have since been introduced to combat this problem. Profiles allow users to create a subsection of the account for themselves, much like Netflix's profiles, and separates different users' viewing preferences from one another, as well as allowing for additional account management, such as parental controls.
Hulu offers Family Plans for accounts with multiple people, but it is unclear how ethical it is to share a subscription that was meant to be personal with friends or family. It's common for people to share account information for many streaming sites, Hulu included, in order to avoid the extra fee. Sometimes one person pays the entire account fee and the other(s) mooch off of them. Other times, multiple people share both the account information and the account fee. Unlike traditional cable subscriptions, which only allow use of the subscription in one home at a time, Hulu offers customers the convenience of being able to stream content from anywhere. The intent was to recreate the traditional cable system, in which multiple people can watch multiple channels at the same time in one home, by allowing multiple use at once. This creates an ideal environment for subscription sharing and cuts the per capita subscription cost down significantly. Subscription sharing is not illegal (in most states -- Tennessee passed a recent laws which lumps in subscription sharing with stealing cable television, and criminalizes sharing Hulu and other streaming serve account information), but does violate Hulu's stated license agreement which state that users can only stream to one device at a time . As of now, there is no way to restrict the sharing of streaming content within the current business model. Multiple users using the same account takes advantage of the Hulu company, because Hulu is paying for double or triple the amount of advertisements that they should be spending. Additionally, all liability for shared subscriptions falls to the owner of the account.
This issue is perhaps more serious when it occurs in Hulu Plus accounts. The benefits of Hulu Plus includes higher quality in video, and less advertisements. Advertisers would be losing their opportunity to market their products because of the multiplicity of users sharing the same account. Because this is a difficult activity to track, there are no real restrictions that could be placed other than restricting video streaming from two devices at the same time. iTunes has a policy where you are only able to log into five different computers, and although this seems like a similar strategy that could be applied to Hulu, users are much more likely to watch videos from different computers than they would be to purchase songs or apps. This is a similar problem that Netflix has to deal with. Whatever approach the company chooses to address the problem with, it seems that many users are on Hulu because of the ability to view it on multiple streams easily.
Effect on Cable Television
Hulu, and other subscription streaming services, are becoming increasingly popular, causing the number of cable subscriptions to drop worldwide. The advent of streaming media delivery has forced cable providers to make efforts to stay competitive. Unfortunately, these efforts have often hurt customer wallets more than they have benefited the cable companies themselves. The cost of cable is increasing year by year, by almost five percent between January 2012 and January 2013  and just recently Comcast (Xfinity) costs rose by an average of 2.2% in 2018. Since the advent of streaming services in 2007, when Netflix expanded from DVD rentals to online media, cable and satellite bills have risen 53% . More and more consumers are opting to "cut the cord" and leave cable behind altogether -- for the cheaper price tag, the element of convenience, and the access to original content available only on those platforms.
The following is a list of video streaming services that can be considered competitors of Hulu. Even though these companies all go about funding their services to the public in different ways they still provide similar services and can be deemed Hulu's competition for customers.
- Tidal TV
- Mordern Feed
- FreeTube Online TV
- Amazon Video
- Apple TV+
- Tubi TV