Hulu had its upfront presentation today, and there’s a lot of good stuff going on here. First off, they have renewed Handmaid’s Tale — its most popular series ever — for a second season (sorry, Ryan). They’re also adding FX’s Atlanta to the service (which is great news). They’ve also announced a Marvel’s Runaways series.
Our first look at the main characters in Hulu's THE RUNAWAYS series! pic.twitter.com/mHH1ORvD0b— MCU News & Tweets (@MCU_Tweets) May 3, 2017
But the big deal here is that they’re also rolling out their live-TV streaming service, which will cost $40. The service is available in beta immediately.
How is this different from other streaming services, like Sling TV? Well, for one, it comes with its own original programming and a catalog of off-network programming (like Atlanta). Like Sling, it’ll also come with around 50 channels, an On-Demand catalog, and the ability to watch Live TV. It also comes with 50 hours of recording storage. You can up that to 200 hours of cloud storage for another $15 a month, and you increase it from two users to unlimited users for another $15 a month, or you can add both for $20 a month.
Are you ready to cut the cord now?
Well, maybe hold that thought for a while longer before you make up your mind. A lot of people have had different experiences depending on what they watch, but here’s mine: I cut the cord for 14 months. About six weeks ago, I went back to cable.
— I had basically everything I need to watch by cutting the cord through various services — Sling TV, plus all the standalone apps (or later, Playstation Vue plus all the stand-alone apps), but once I added up all the costs, it eventually ran even — or cost more — than cable, plus it was kind of a hassle flipping between the various apps and interfaces.
— The logins. The [email protected]#ing logins. It may seem minor, but when your apps and streaming services end up making you login with that password you forgot, using a remote control, there will be times — I promise you — that you just say, “Fuck it,” and pick up a book. And for some reason, you can stay logged in for weeks or months, but every damn time, it’s 20 seconds before Better Call Saul starts when it asks you to login again, and by the time you have, you’re 5 minutes into the show and have to wait and watch it On Demand the next day to see it all.
— While you do get live TV, you don’t get it for broadcast networks, where you get just On Demand programming. That’s fine, until the Oscars air. Or the Super Bowl. Or the NFL on Sundays. Or the Emmys. Then, suddenly, you can’t watch these big live events without an antennae. That may not seem like a big deal until you start planning your Super Bowl party and realize that you can’t.
— You DO get basically a cloud DVR service, and the ability to fast-forward through commercials. This is great news, and what the other services have been missing.
— What finally pushed me back to cable, however, was the glitches of the two streaming services I used. I have very good internet services, but it didn’t prevent buffering and other glitches during peak times, and it’s annoying as hell to lose 30 seconds of a show here and there because of Internet connectivity issues.
— Plus, the Hulu Live Streaming service doesn’t offer AMC, although it does offer USA Network, FX and FXX. While you’re out of luck on The Walking Dead and Preacher, you do get Mr. Robot and Suits (and Dule Hill has been cast in the next season of Suits, so I know you’re all as excited as I am about the next season of Suits). There’s no IFC, Discovery, or BBC America, either, so no Doctor Who or Orphan Black or Brockmire.
Look: I’m no fan of cable. I’m no fan of Time Warner (or Spectrum Time Warner, as it is called now in my area), which is why I cut the cord in the first place. But after experimenting for an entire year, I came to the conclusion that cable is just easier. Most folks already have Internet through their cable provider, and once you package Internet with cable, it’s typically cheaper than adding all the streaming services and stand-alone apps one needs to consume all the TV they want if they are big TV consumers. And you can still watch Live TV on your iPads or smart phones, and with a cable login, you still have access to all the stand-alone apps from the various networks.
That said, there’s plenty of television out there, and if you’re willing to cut a few shows, do without a DVR, and deal with the occasional Internet glitch, I’m sure Hulu Live Streaming is great and will provide you with plenty of television options (along with Netflix and/or Amazon). I will say that the Hulu interface is superior to both Sling and Playstation Vue.
tl;dr: If you’re a huge consumer of TV from a lot of different networks and you’re already paying for Internet from your cable provider, ultimately, it’s just more efficient to pay the evil company for easier, more convenient, and probably cheaper access.