The New and Improved Hulu
Hulu is rolling out a newly designed website aimed at making it easier to discover new TV shows, movies, and web series. When you are done catching up on your favorite TV shows, there are now custom recommendations and new genres to browse. A new search feature helps you to find any show, clip, or episode you want to watch. Both the free Hulu service and the Hulu Plus paid subscription service have received this new facelift. It is more graphic, and app-like and is better suited for a big screen experience than its previous layout. If you don’t see the new design you can type in new.hulu.com. Once you go to the new version of the site at this address, you will be directed there each time you type in www.hulu.com.
For anyone unfamiliar with Hulu, it is an online streaming video site known for showing current TV shows the day after they are broadcast (Fox shows are available after a week.) Hulu also has a number of Miramax movies and movie classics from the Criterion art film collection. With such a vast library of TV and movie titles, it has been cumbersome to move through menus and submenus to browse or search for something you want to watch.
When using the old Hulu website, their idea of helping you find new videos was limited to displaying the most popular (most watched) videos. Or you could choose from featured content chosen by the staff. The new Hulu is aimed at giving you a more personal experience.
One you sign in with your free or paid account, Hulu tracks your viewing habits and will make recommendations based on the types of shows you watch. The new Hulu web format displays recommendations by genres--”recommended in comedy," or "recommended in drama." While my son's comedy list includes shows that are similar to "The Office," my list leans toward "New Girl." With this personal customization, it is more likely interested we'll discover a show we want to watch.
Search From Anywhere
This is one of those cool features that you never knew you wanted. As you browse around a page of TV shows or movies, a thumbnail or title may remind you of a show you've been meaning to watch. To find that show, just start typing from anywhere on the site. There is no need to click in the search bar, the words will automatically appear there as you type. As soon as a type in enough letters, a dropdown menu appears with a thumbnail of the show that is the likeliest match along with other possible show titles. If the thumbnail is the one you want, you can click on it in the drop down display and play it immediately. This ability to play a video with one click is much better than linking to a page and clicking through until the video plays.
Advanced Search Tips
If you know the exact show and episode you are seeking, or you want to see a show with a particular cast or crew, you can click on the advanced search link. Here are a couple of search tips that will help you find TV shows. If you want to see a particular season of a TV show, type "show:" with the name of the show, and "season:" followed by the season(s) you want (e.g., "season: 1-5, or "season: 1,3,6"). For a particular episode type in the show, then "season:" plus the season number, and "episode:" with the episode number(s). To search for shows starring a particular actor use "people:" plus the name. For example, "people: Kathy Bates" for all TV shows and movies available on Hulu starring Kathy Bates, or "show: Three and a Half Men people: Kathy Bates" for the episode in which she appeared.
For times that you aren't sure what you want to watch, Hulu has several categories on the home page to suggest different genres including (but not limited to): Popular in Science Fiction- Thriller, Popular in Courtroom Drama, Popular in Late Night Comedy, Top Mom Clips, popular networks, and "Period Pieces."
Watching Hulu on Your TV
These new changes do not effect the myriad of streaming media players, smart TVs, and game consoles that include the Hulu Plus app. While a current monthly subscription to Hulu Plus is required to watch Hulu on a device, the Hulu website streams much of the content free to computers. So far it is blocked from web browsers on TVs and devices including Google TV. With the improved website, better quality videos, fullscreen player with scene searches and 10 second rewind, the new Hulu is meant to be seen on a bigscreen TV.
Many laptops include an HDMI connection and graphics card that can display directly to a TV, others can be connected via a RGB/PC input. Wireless mirroring of computer desktops through technologies like WiDi, and mirroring of Macs with the Mountain Lion operating system to an Apple TV, make watching from websites like Hulu on your computer a viable option. Plus you can get it for free.
Hulu is ad supported and advertisers have jumped on the bandwagon to include commercials in Hulu TV shows. Unlike watching a show on a DVR where you can fast forward through the commercials, on Hulu, you are a captive audience. Still, you have choices. If you go to your account settings, you can answer a few questions that will tailor the commercials to the types of products in which you might be interested. Also, note that when you start many TV shows, you can choose a commercial you think you might like better, and some shows give you the option of watching a long ad to begin the show and watch the rest commercial-free. If you have to watch a commercial, at least it's nice to have a say in what you'll see.