Hulu’s Commercials Aren’t Really ‘Limited’


What does limited commercials mean to you? A few spots at the beginning and middle?

As I discovered when I recently re-signed up for the Hulu TV subscription service, “limited” means just as annoying and frequent as the ads we see on broadcast TV, but with a twist: we’re paying for this service.

Hulu, the “cutting the cord” streaming offering of current NBC, ABC and Fox episodes, complete seasons of past favorites, originals and movies, competes with Netflix, and has 12 million subscribers to nearly 50 million U.S. Netflix customers.

Might I respectfully note to management that the gap between Hulu and Netflix could be easily narrowed with a more consumer friendly presentation?

Hulu has two offers: $7.99 per month with limited commercials, and $11.99 per month that is ad free. (Netflix, which doesn’t have the same current TV show catalog as Hulu, and is stronger in movies, documentaries and originals, starts at $7.99 monthly and is ad-free.)

Limited sounds cool, right? Save $4 monthly, or $44 annually, and put up with a few commercials. How bad could it be?

Really, really bad. As I noted, worse than watching network TV. (A master plot by Hulu to get people to switch to the ad-free option? That’s what I thought, but Hulu says the majority of its subscribers opt for the ads.)

In signing up for ad-free, I expected to find three to five spots in the beginning, and another handful in the middle. That to me was the definition of “limited.”

But instead, at least on episode 2, season 5 of Nashville, there were 15 commercials, spread out at the beginning, and across five act breaks. (Hulu says that at nine minutes per hour, it has about two-thirds of the average 16-minute commercial load for broadcast TV.)

But it gets worse. Hulu actually raised the volume at every act break, making the spots even more obnoxious than they have to be. (Hulu says this was a bug that is being addressed.)

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SOURCE: USA Today, Jefferson Graham