Hulu+ App Store Reviews: Fending off the Naysayers

Hulu+ just updated their app last week, so I thought this would be a good time to address the absurd amount of negative reviews they have in the App Store.

I love Hulu+.  I got my invite August 1st and have been using the app on my iPhone 4 several times a week to watch shows — catching up with Glee while at work (shhh!), and watching the first season of Modern Family at the gym (FYI—laughing on the treadmill will immediately provoke stares and glares.)  I think the Hulu service is smart and having it readily accessible on my iPhone 4 is convenient.

So why are there so many negative reviews of it in the App Store (It’s currently at 1.5 stars)?  Most comments seem to be some variation of these complaints:

Why pay for what’s free online?

The problem with this complaint is that these folks haven’t done their research or paid attention to advertising: Hulu+ (note the PLUS sign) is a monthly service ($9.99/month) you pay for that allows access to far more than the limited quantities of video available for free online.

You can get entire past seasons of current shows such as 30 Rock and The Office, as well as the entire run of now-defunct shows such as The X-Files, Arrested Development, Buffy, and many short-lived series that were canceled too early (I’ll never forget you, Angela Chase!).

Don’t want all that?  Then don’t download Hulu+ (or rate it).  You can still watch all your current favorite shows online with a plain, free Hulu membership.

Why is the app free if you can’t watch anything without a subscription?

The name of the app is Hulu PLUS.  It is meant for people who have the subscription, or to preview the service and what it offers.  If it were simply “Hulu” then yes, complaining that you can’t watch the free content available on the web would be valid.  I can download Netflix for free, but it’s pretty useless if I don’t have a subscription.

I pay $9.99/month and I still have to watch ads?

As opposed to $70+/month and still having to watch ads on your cable TV?  Even if you have a DVR, you’re still subject to commercials when watching something live.  I gave up cable over a year ago in favor of Hulu, so a couple minutes of ads don’t bother me.

The app doesn’t work

Version 1 and 1.1 were really buggy and problematic.  Since updating to 1.2, a lot of the problems I had have disappeared or been minimal.  No more choppy playback, resuming where you left off is much faster and intuitive (the app doesn’t freak out if you get a text message or push notification), and the buffering is improved.

There’s still some work to be done, as the UI could be easier to navigate, and shows should be divided by seasons instead of having to scroll through all 100 something episodes.  But Hulu+ for the iPhone 4 is a great complement to your existing Hulu+ subscription.

In short, don’t let the naysayers reviewing the app deter you.  Hulu+ is great. Have you tried it? What do you think?