In November, Netflix finally introduced something its viewers had been waiting to see for a long time: the ability to download movies and TV shows so they can be viewed offline. At the same time, Hulu said it was working on introducing a similar feature, but details were fairly scarce. Now, the company’s CEO, Mike Hopkins, has given the streaming service’s subscribers a rough idea of how long the wait will be.
“Yes, it’s definitely on our road map. It’s something that we’re going to be doing in a few months,” Hopkins said in an interview with Adweek, speaking about offline playback. “We’re working hard on the technology around that and getting the rights squared away.”
While that vague idea is a far cry from a release date or even a window, it’s likely welcome news to a large number of the company’s subscribers. In November, Ben Smith, Hulu’s senior vice president and head of experience, spoke at Open Mobile Summit, telling the audience that the service has a large number of users who watch Hulu using only their mobile devices. This is the exact type of viewer that offline viewing is a key feature for, as not every area has fast enough data for streaming, if you can even get a signal at all.
Another thing that isn’t yet clear is exactly what will be available to stream. In the case of Netflix, not everything available on the service can be viewed offline. Even for items that can be viewed offline, there is generally an availability window after which they are rendered useless. Hulu has yet to confirm its offline viewing would work this way, but considering the rights issues Hopkins mentioned, it seems extremely likely.
Another long-awaited feature, user profiles, is finally being added to Hulu. Initially only available on the web version of the service, it has begun to roll out to other platforms, like its mobile app, and should be available on all versions of the app soon.
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