I’ll admit it. I’m in an unhealthy relationship with Hulu. I love it because it has everything I want to watch in one place. But I hate it because of the underhanded advertising techniques and the crappy stipulations that have become synonymous with the experience. Yet I keep coming back, only to bitch about how lame the quality was or that they didn’t have the next episode I wanted to watch. After the billionth time of saying I’ll never use Hulu again, I stared to think about why it has this stranglehold over Internet television watchers and why, as a brand, Hulu just rubs users the wrong way.
Sure, there’s plenty to love about Hulu. Yesterday Hulu launched The Confession, a new web series starring Kiefer Sutherland. Plus Hulu is now streaming live political events like last night’s speech from President Obama about Libya. Not to mention the crazy ass foreign shows they’ve added to the lineup.
Since it is the byproduct of big networks and studios, Hulu has access to nearly everything and herein lies part of the problem. Too many massive network egos have created some crazy ass video content rules and regulations found nowhere else on the web. Like Top Chef, Bravo’s hit cooking reality show, only dolls out random episodes that may or may not be in order because Bravo only updates its programming on Hulu twice a month. That means viewers rarely get to see episodes in order. It’s a very “let them eat poorly selected non-sequential episodes of addictive television shows” attitude. And then there’s Hulu Plus, the paid service which promises exclusive full runs of series and streaming to mobile devices. At $7.99 a month, the service sort of delivers on that promise — but has glitches and more nutty regulations.
Yet I believe of the technical screw ups and weird rules could be ignored if Hulu projected an image as a brand who cares about its viewers. Instead, it’s obvious the head honchos at Hulu aren’t losing sleep over the fact that my Celebrity Apprentice viewing experience was ruined by a spoiler-filled commercial which aired before the episode ended. By taking on the same arrogance that helped land network TV in its current state, Hulu isn’t doing itself any favors.