Hulu’s Live TV service, the expanded version of Hulu launched in May which provides access to live television in addition to Hulu’s existing on-demand library, is now available on Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. This is the first major platform expansion since the service’s debut, as it was initially available on iOS, Android, Chromecast, Apple TV and Xbox One.
Amazon Fire TV is one of the few remaining platforms were Hulu’s app still needs to be rolled out in order be considered a true cross-platform service. It’s also in need of support for Roku and Samsung Smart TVs – both of which were also previously promised to be in the works.
In its announcement this morning, Hulu says that the new service’s more limited availability allowed the company to learn from viewer feedback and then roll out changes and improvements in the weeks following its launch. That’s probably a good thing, because Hulu’s overhauled user interface and refreshed design has led to a decent-sized smattering of user complaints. In fact, one of the most upvoted posts on Hulu’s forums about the new experience, with 1,328 votes, references users’ dislike of the new interface.
As we noted in our original review, the organization and layout of Hulu’s Live TV homescreen felt wrong, with perhaps too much emphasis on Hulu’s personalization goals, to the detriment of easier navigation and quicker access to the shows you actually want to track and watch.
To Hulu’s credit, however, it has been steadily rolling out small tweaks to address some issues, noting that it was taking forum users’ feedback into consideration. For example, in June, the company updated the app with labels that indicate your current viewing progress ( “all caught up,” or how many episodes left, e.g.); it added green “New Episode” badges so you would know what’s new; and it added the option to disable AutoPlay.
But these are more minor tweaks, rather than those that address the larger issue with the navigation and design, which Hulu still remains committed to for the time being.
It’s unclear, though, how much impact the design changes will have on Hulu’s ability to grow its userbase long-term. After all, people come to streaming TV services largely for the content and usability across devices. In that, Hulu still delivers a competitive offering with live and on-demand programming from over 50 channels for $39.99/month; plus its existing library, including originals like “The Handmaid’s Tale;” up to 50 hours of Cloud DVR storage included; and support for 6 profiles and 2 concurrent streams.
Users can also add-on upgrades like an expanded DVR (200 hours), unlimited concurrent streams, or premium networks like HBO, Cinemax and Showtime.
Hulu said in May it had 47 million unique viewers, so it’s far from being counted out at this time. (However, note that it used to report subscriber figures, then changed to only report uniques instead.) Hulu’s Live TV expansion to Amazon Fire TV could bump up those numbers.
In terms of the Fire TV rollout, the existing Hulu app will be automatically upgraded to the new experience, making it the default for current Hulu customers as well as those who join the live TV service.