Hulu this summer finally brought back 4K content to its service, after abruptly removing it in 2018 while it focused on other priorities. Initially, its 4K content was only available on Apple TV 4K and Chromecast Ultra. Today, Hulu says it’s available on Xbox One devices, with support for Amazon Fire TV and LG WebOS in the works. More devices will also be supported soon, the company notes.
The streaming service had never really prioritized 4K content, having first rolled out support in December 2016 — years after rivals Netflix and Amazon Prime Video had done the same. Its lineup was also fairly minimal at the time, with 20 James Bond films and a handful of Hulu Originals. And then it was pulled.
Today, Hulu’s 4K lineup is again focused largely on its original programming, including shows like “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The First,” “Castle Rock,” “Catch-22” and others. The company’s FAQ says most of its originals are available in 4K Ultra HD, and stream at 16 Mbps.
Netflix, by comparison, has a much larger library, thanks in part to its more sizable investment in original programming, which it has increasingly shot in 4K over the past few years. Amazon Prime Video also includes its own originals in 4K and around 50 other licensed films.
However, access to Netflix’s 4K library requires its more expensive ($15.99/mo) Premium plan. Accessing Hulu’s 4K library does not require an upgrade.
There are plenty of other ways to get to 4K content, including through iTunes and Google Play Movies & TV — the latter which began offering 4K content for purchase back in 2016. Roku also dedicates a section to 4K content within its main navigation. Apple TV+ originals will also be available in 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos, when it launches in November. Disney+ is also promising 4K at no extra cost. And there’s 4K content available on Vudu, YouTube, FandangoNow, fuboTV and others.
Hulu’s lack of attention to 4K hasn’t stalled its growth, however, as most consumers don’t consider 4K availability as a reason not to subscribe. In fact, Hulu’s subscriber growth in the U.S. has been steadily climbing, reaching 28 million earlier this year, up 12% from the end of 2018. And with a Disney+ bundle deal now in the works, Hulu is set to grow even faster in the near future.