Hulu today is rolling out a handful of new features to the beta version of its Live TV service on the web, including a picture-in-picture mode, improved search, and, most notably the addition of the user-controlled watchlist, dubbed “My Stuff.”
The updates arrive at a time when Hulu is still dealing with a surge of complaints about its new interface.
To say that not everyone has been thrilled with Hulu’s revamp is a bit of an understatement, in fact. The company’s refreshed look-and-feel favored an attractive design over ease-of-use, many have complained. Hulu’s user forums have been lit up since the new interface’s launch with pleas for Hulu to return to its old design, or at least to change the current one to be more functional.
Primarily, people say the new navigation is overly complex, making it difficult to find the things they want to watch.
The company has been slowly responding to these requests, without fully rolling back the updated design. For example, in October it debuted a grid guide for tracking live TV, noting at the time that it had heard from viewers that the live TV content feels “hidden or harder to get to than you would like.” The new guide aimed to offer a different, less complicated way, to find programming.
With today’s addition of “My Stuff” on the web, Hulu seems to be acknowledging users’ complaints about its “Continue Watching” and “Lineup” features. That is, people largely want to use a watchlist they control – not Hulu’s suggestions, as in Lineup, nor a “keep watching” section that includes shows they’ve started then decided to drop – or those other people watched under their profile. (Thanks a lot, dear babysitter, for your Kardashians’ viewing, by the way).
“My Stuff,” instead, is an area where you control what gets added and removed – without the influence of algorithmic recommendations. However, when something is added, Hulu will remember what you’ve already watched and what you have left to finish, the company says.
Meanwhile, the picture-in-picture mode is something Hulu said many users have requested. The feature will allow you to continue watching a program while exploring other programs in the user interface. To use this, you’ll click the minimize button on the right, bottom corner of the player which moves the video into a small player you can move around anywhere on your screen while you do other things.
Search has gotten an update, too, to now include episodes, sporting events, and keyword matches from movie descriptions.
The new features are rolling out to the web, but only to users of the beta version of the web experience at beta.hulu.com. It’s also only available to those who subscribe to Hulu’s Live TV service, and other Hulu viewers who have added or either HBO or Cinemax for the time being.