Hulu announced on Wednesday it has begun to rollout 60fps (frames per second) to its Live TV service – something that’s been one of the most-requested features, especially from those who stream live sports. These higher-quality streams are initially coming to a select number of channels and devices as the first phase of a larger rollout.
One of the troubles with switching from cable and satellite television to internet-based live TV services is that streamed sporting events don’t always look right – the video can be choppy, which makes it more difficult to track the action. The issue is the frame rate. Streaming services often only support 30fps, while sporting events often come in at 60fps.
Many of Hulu’s competitors already support 60fps streams to varying degrees. For example, Sling TV supports 60fps on all its ESPN channels, plus several sports and premium networks; DirecTV Now offers 60fps across all programs that telecast at the higher frame rate across nearly all devices; YouTube TV also supports 60fps on all of Fox- and ABC-owned cable channels.
While 60fps support isn’t necessarily the deciding factor for everyone in the market for a live TV service, it does matter quite a lot to sports fans – along with channel lineup, of course.
Hulu says that in Phase 1, 60fps is enabled in the following apps: CNN, CNN International, HLN, TNT, TBS, TCM, TruTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, all Showtime channels, New England news channels and about half its Fox and NBC affiliates.
However, the company notes that individual Fox and NBC affiliates may temporarily revert back to a 30fps version in order to deliver the most stable playback stream, at times.
The higher-quality streams are also only being enabled on select devices in Phase 1, as well, including iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Xbox One, Fire TV, Samsung Tizen TV, and Nintendo Switch.
The launch comes at a critical time for Hulu in terms of its ability to retain sports fans.
The company’s Live TV service recently crapped out for a small number of subscribers during the end of Super Bowl LII. For those affected, the stream went down around 10 pm and didn’t come back online until 10:45 pm. As you can imagine, the affected users were outraged over the matter.
In an attempt to make up for the technical glitches, Hulu is offering those who were impacted a free month of its Live TV service as an apology.
The hope is that the sports fans will stick around since it’s free, instead of reacting by canceling their service and jumping to another provider.
With the Winter Olympics now kicking off – and Hulu’s newly launched personalized experience for tracking favorite Olympic sports – in combination with this week’s launch of 60fps, Hulu may be able to retain some of its sports-loving subscribers.