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Chromecast adds Hulu, but is this really a win for Google?

Google Chromecast users got one more reason to stay glued to the couch Wednesday, thanks to the addition of Hulu to the popular streaming device. As with other devices, using the new service on the Chromecast will require a monthly subscription to Hulu Plus for $8/month. The announcement should be a welcome one to the Chromecast faithful, who up to this point have had a seriously limited collection of apps from which to choose, with Netflix serving as the only partner app to add to Google’s minion of streaming services including Youtube, Google Play, and Google Music.

Chromecast dove headlong into the streaming scene last July. For a mere $35, the streaming stick, which is about the size of a flash drive, provides an easy way to watch online content by simply plugging into a TV’s HDMI port, connecting to Wi-Fi, and pulling up supported apps on Android and iOS smartphones and tablets (though the new Hulu app won’t work for iPhones straight away.) But, while Chromecast has been extremely successful, the device’s lack of available apps has left it vulnerable to more seasoned devices in the genre, such as Apple TV and Roku, both of which secured rights to many of the most popular streaming apps long before Chromecast was in place.

Chromecast has been able to stay viable, however, thanks in part to a simple workaround. The device is capable of mirroring content from a PC or Mac web browser (as long as that web browser is Google’s own Chrome service) allowing users to utilize Hulu, as well as the vast collection of other omitted apps by simply punching them up from their home computer. In fact, research by Parks Associates indicates that 34 percent of Chromecast owners have been streaming video content from Hulu to their TV set every day. Of those, 50 percent are just using Hulu’s free service. 

Arriving late to the party has given the device a lot of catching up to do, and Google has been trying to lock down partnerships with major players in the streaming world such as Hulu since Chromecast’s inception. We will likely see many more apps added to Chromecast in the future, but no timetable has been given. Google doesn’t seem too worried, however. Being one of the most powerful companies in the world has its advantages, and Roku is still trying to secure rights to host an actual Youtube app on its devices. 

As the wheels of streaming entertainment spin in constant motion, the battle between Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, and other devices has only increased its fervor. Each step taken from one device seems to provoke an answer from its rivals, and luckily for us, the competition just makes our choice of options that much more alluring. With Apple TV and Roku now on deck, we can’t wait to see what comes next.

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