Hulu Review: Is It Worth Subscribing To?
Hulu has been around for a long time, and we've taken an in-depth look at what you'll find on there.
The last two years have seen a huge growth in the number of streaming services available, as many of the major studios launched their own platforms to compete with Netflix and Amazon. But alongside Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock, and Paramount Plus, there is a major streaming service that has been around longer than most--Hulu.
Hulu launched to the public way back in March 2008. It was a joint venture between several studios, including News Corporation and NBC Universal, to aggregate episodes of popular TV shows in one place. Disney became a stakeholder in 2009, adding to the platform's growing content library.
Disney's control over Hulu grew in 2019, when it bought Fox's entertainment assets, giving it a 60% stake in the company. This was quickly followed by both AT&T and Comcast selling their shares to Disney, giving the studio complete control over the platform.
Today, Hulu reportedly had 43 million subscribers in the US. However, some questions about Disney's plans for the platform remain. With the main studios taking their content back for their own services, Hulu is no longer the place to head to find top shows under one roof. But equally, Disney has its other platform--Disney+--which seems to be far more of a priority for the studio in terms of growing a subscriber base and producing original content.
So is Hulu worth subscribing to in 2021? Let's take a look at how much it costs, and what you get for your money:
A subscription to Hulu costs $13 per month for the ad-free version or $7 per month with ads. The ad-supported version is also available as an annual subscription for $80 a year, which drops the monthly cost to $5.80.
There are also some bundle options available. Ad-supported Hulu with Live TV costs $65 per month, while the ad-free version with Live TV is $71. There's also a bundle that includes ad-supported Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN for $14 per month, or $20 for Disney+, ESPN, and ad-free Hulu. Finally, ad-supported Hulu, Disney+, and Live TV is $73 per month.
The Hulu site has a clean, well-organized design. Like most streaming services, the homepage features a large banner for a high-profile new release, followed by some more personalized TV and movie suggestions, presumably based on past watches (two of the six movies it suggested for me starred Nicolas Cage so it clearly knows something). That said, the TV suggestions seem more random, pushing some of Hulu's new originals ahead of content from the other studios. Other sections on the home page include "Hulu Picks," "Newly Added Movies," and "Award-Winning TV."
There are currently five links at the top of each page. The Movie and TV sections are divided by genre, with these running from more obvious "Thrillers" and "Horror" to sub-sections like "Lifestyle and Culture" and "Food and Drink." Impressively, there are also sections for "Black Stories," "LGTBQ+," and "Latino." There are also links for "My Stuff," which shows your wishlist, plus "Hubs," which provides access to specific content from studios and brands such as Fox, Freeform, Adult Swim, SyFy, MTV, and National Geographic. The fifth link is a temporary one for "Holidays," collecting all of Hulu's seasonal shows and movies.
Throughout the site, if you're looking for a more comprehensive list of what content Hulu has, then this is easy to find. Full listings can be accessed from every page and section, with alphabetical lists of every film and show revealed by clicking "View More."
The Android and iOS apps are very similar in layout to the site and easy to navigate around. Movies and shows can be downloaded via the app for offline viewing. One thing missing that Disney+ or Netflix users might miss is a group watch functionality. But this is a small omission from an otherwise well-designed and user-friendly experience.
So, the big question is--what can I watch on Hulu? There's certainly no shortage of titles on the platform, both in terms of originals, Disney-released titles, and licensed content. So let's take a look in more detail:
Hulu has a large selection of films available--but there are a few caveats. You won't find many big, new blockbusters on Hulu, with the big studios keeping their films for their own services, and Disney+ the place to go for Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar. However, fans of international, arthouse and independent cinema will find much to enjoy. Some of the most acclaimed films of the last year can be found there, such as Nomadland, Pig, and Another Round, alongside R-rated Disney-owned titles that won't be found on Disney+, including Deadpool.
There's an assortment of big catalog movies from other studios available, such as The Matrix, Skyfall, The Hunger Games, and Terminator: Dark Fate. Beyond that, Hulu has a good range of genre films, particularly horror and sci-fi, and its selection of Hulu Originals continues to grow. Recent releases include the horror movie Run and the time-loop action comedy Boss Level. In all, there's no shortage of movies to watch on Hulu, but don't expect to find any specific title available--looking through the movie section is more reminiscent of browsing the shelves of a video store and picking up something that looks interesting.
Hulu's real strength lies with its TV content. The company has produced some superb shows over the past few years, including The Handmaid's Tale, Nine Perfect Strangers, and The Great, while Dopesick and the comedy Only Murders in the Building are recent additions to its line-up of acclaimed series. The Fox deal has also meant Fox and FX shows can be found on Hulu, such as What We Do In The Shadows, American Horror Story, Y: The Last Man, and It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia. There's also a wealth of catalog comedy and drama, documentaries, and reality programming.
Hulu also boasts a fantastic selection of anime shows and movies. Highlights include One Piece, Attack on Titan, Akira, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Demon Slayer. You can check out GameSpot's guide to the best anime shows and movies on Hulu here.
So is Hulu worth the cost of a subscription? If you're a fan of quality TV drama, comedy, and documentaries then it's definitely worth the price, especially with the ad-supported model keeping the monthly cost low. Equally, if you already have Disney+, then the bundle is well worth it if you're looking to broaden your choice beyond the more family-oriented offerings there.
However, if you already have Netflix, Amazon Prime, and some of the other big services like HBO Max or Peacock, Hulu might not offer a huge amount you're not getting elsewhere, especially in terms of movies. Sure, the film selection is very varied, but with so much choice already available, then it could be a monthly cost you can live without. Equally, while the anime selection is impressive, hardcore anime fans might already be subscribed to services like Crunchyroll or Funimation. Nevertheless, more casual anime fans will find it a good addition, giving them access to some of the genre's best releases without having to pay for one of those specialist platforms.
In all, Hulu has a lot to offer, but it might be worth checking to see if it's exactly right for you before signing up.
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