Hulu Plus on TiVo Now Official


After a few days of inadvertent leaks, Hulu Plus is finally official on the TiVo Premiere.

As regulars know, I’m a Hulu Plus subscriber ($8/month) and this is a welcome platform option (on input one). While EngadgetHD takes issue with TiVo actually delivering Hulu’s interface, I’m happy to see it there. As it indicates someone other than TiVo will be maintaining the app and hopefully keeping it current. In fact, TiVo tells me it’s rendered in Flash… like their very own HDUI (although Hulu Plus can also be launched from the SDUI). It looks sharp. Just like Hulu Plus on every other platform. And, in limited testing, I didn’t notice the prior Roku overscan issues when playing back 720p video.

Having said that, all is not perfect. Hulu Plus shows aren’t yet baked into TiVo’s universal search and there are some strange remote/playback characteristics – stay away from the instant replay button if you have as little patience as I, the Zoom/Aspect button does nothing of the sort, and TiVo’s iPad app backspace key doesn’t seem to work.

New TiVo Premiere owners are entitled to a free six months of Hulu Plus service and existing subscribers will be comped four weeks, so take it for a spin and let us know what you think.

43 thoughts on “Hulu Plus on TiVo Now Official”

  1. Hulu Plus on TiVo is sort of like On Demand via a cable provider. Yet it costs an additional $8/month. Wonder how many dual TiVo+HuluPlus subscribers there are out there.

  2. “While EngadgetHD takes issue with TiVo actually delivering Hulu’s interface … and there are some strange remote/playback characteristics – stay away from the instant replay button if you have as little patience as I, the Zoom/Aspect button does nothing of the sort, and the TiVo’s iPad app backspace key doesn’t seem to work.”

    See, this kind of stuff is why I’m such a fan of the TiVo Netflix client on my TiVo HD. (I may be the only fan, but I’m still a fan.)

    The Netflix client works pretty much the exact same way as the rest of the TiVo UI. Master the TiVo UI, and you’re good to go on Netflix with all your muscle memory working on your behalf. Good for me. And good for the “WAF”…

  3. I suppose I’d be a proponent of a universal interface, if it were done properly. But while some elements look the same between HME apps, when you start comparing the virtual keyboards for example you’ll see all kinds of variability. Any way we’re at the point where these brands want to present their experience – take it or leave it. And Hulu’s is one of the better ones.

  4. “But while some elements look the same between HME apps…”

    I don’t make use of the HME apps mainly because of lack of cause, as well as due to UI consistency issues you speak of.

    All I use on my TiVo HD are CableCARD, Netflix, and Amazon downloaded video. (Everything else goes to my HTPC on input 2.) The programming selection and playback UI’s on input 1 are pretty damn consistent across all three of those sources, which, again, makes me happy to rely on my muscle memory when I’m watching the teevee, as well as significantly helping with the “WAF”.

    The whole argument against tru2way-type schemes is that lean-back UI’s really want interface consistency for happy usage by mere mortals…

  5. “I suppose I’d be a proponent of a universal interface…”

    FWIW, I don’t want a universal lean-back UI. I just want a consistent lean-back UI on each box, no matter what source that box is pulling in from…

  6. “Any way we’re at the point where these brands want to present their experience – take it or leave it. And Hulu’s is one of the better ones.”

    No doubt that Hulu Plus (I always hear it in my head as “hulu-plu”, from hearing Canal+ pronounced out loud enough times), has some exclusive content, albeit with unskippable ads in additional to your subscription fee.

    But FWIW, personally, I’d be a helluva lot more likely to subscribe to a service like Hulu+ if they didn’t make me put up with their own “unique experience” in addition to the ads, rather than letting their exclusive content be sent out via native UI’s.

    The immovable object will meet the irresistible force if Hulu Plus ever wants to get on the Apple TV. Steve-o wouldn’t let Hulu on without slapping his own UI on top for his customers. But considering the configuration of the corporate chessboard, I’m not sure Hulu Plus and Apple TV are due for a match anytime soon…

  7. Note to self: if you end every comment with an ellipsis, you need you rethink your punctuation strategies…

  8. I probably should have known this already, but I’m a bit disappointed to see that they’re not supporting this on the series 3 and other models. I get that they want people to upgrade, but it’s kind of obnoxious to have to get up and move to another room, just to see Hulu content. At the very least there should have been a way for the other DVRS to stream from the premiere. In a lot of ways, this just made TiVo’s multirooom features less useful to me.

  9. Davis, it’s a Flash UI and probably not at all possible on the S3 or TiVoHD. Also, I think it’s clear the compelling current and future enhancements will be coming to the Premiere platform.

  10. “Davis, it’s a Flash UI and probably not at all possible on the S3 or TiVoHD.”

    See, that’s part of why I didn’t want to hop on the Hate Train regarding Alviso going Flash-based.

  11. It may well be a flash thing, but Youtube and Amazon was able to overcome this limitation and make it on the S3, so technical limitations only holds so much water as an excuse. In many ways, this actually makes me more concerned about my TiVo Premiere than my series 3. TiVo’s great flash experiment has been a bust (slow, hangups, and crashes) and if they can’t port it to cable anyway, then we’ll have even more fragmentation among the various platforms. This makes it hard for developers to create apps for TiVo (assuming this comes out at some point) because they’re having to code in several different languages to reach the entire subscriber base. Given all the buggy problems with the flash release, if TiVo ever wants to move to a more stable platform, then we’re sure to see premiere owners abandoned. It was one thing to brick the TiVo 1’s in the UK, but considering that the S3 isn’t even 5 years old yet, it just feels too early to be abandoning it.

  12. “Any way we’re at the point where these brands want to present their experience – take it or leave it. And Hulu’s is one of the better ones.”

    It’s worth noting here just how weird and cross-purposed Hulu’s agenda is.

    Netflix and Amazon don’t care about presenting “their experience – take it or leave it”. They care about selling you the rights and delivery methods to watch programming.

    In short, Netflix and Amazon care about serving their customers.

    Hulu, on the other hand, cares about serving a variety of corporate conglomerates, each of whom have major ownership of existing MSO’s and content companies.

    To sum, I’m not sure that Hulu is the wave of the future, instead of just being a weird singleton. In the lean-back world, folks don’t want to switch UI’s when they switch from CBS to NBC. The differences between webvideo and the lean-back world continue to prove complex for many decision-makers.

    (Also I hereby trademark the words “IMSO” and “CMSO”, in the spirit of the ILEC and CLEC acronyms of the late ’90’s. From this moment on until when Mickey Mouse goes into the public domain, whenever anyone uses IMSO™ or CMSO™ in print or on the internet, they must send Chucky half a cent in royalties. Reading this is proof of your acceptance of the terms.)

  13. I will give it a try, but I am not optimistic about the experience. I have never cared for the Hulu interface so having it on the TiVo does nothing for me. Of course like Netflix I would use search to find the content so I will be awaiting for that before I give it a shot.

  14. Glad to see it. Still probably not going to pay more money for the stuff I already pay money to receive. At least with more unskippable ads. But I might change my mind at some point, we’ll see.

    I probably don’t care about the consistency of the UI so much, though it sounds like the remote usage on this is pretty bad. Not a big deal if they just used the arrow/select and transport controls. But some of the other buttons like Aspect too? Weird.

    Wonder what this means for the Xfinity app? Suspect it means we’ll get the Xfinity app as defined by Comcast, without integrated search either. Ugh. Still, better that not having it by a long shot.


    Apps? On the Tivo? You’re definitely smoking crack now my friend. Tivo can barely get their own out.


    Really? You’re holding up the Amazon implementation on Tivo as something you LIKE? Seriously, I use it sometimes when I forced to, but I avoid it whenever possible. Its really quite horrid. Text only, minimal information, series episodes not in date order, etc etc. Really, its barely usable. Without a computer or smart phone to figure out which episode is next, or to look up other information about a movie I might rent, its just unusable.

  15. Just heard back from TiVo. In theory the free 6 months if only for new Premiere subscribers as of today. Yet someone on the forum activated on the 19th, so there may be a few extra days baked in. For comparison, my Premiere wasn’t eligible for the 6 months… or even for the 1 month (since I already subscribe to Hulu Plus).

    Widespread deployment of 14.8 starts today and will be completed by Wednesday at the latest. It’s a prerequisite for the Hulu Plus app.

  16. Somewhat off topic, but with regards to 14.8, Dave have you ever asked TiVo why they don’t release update notes once the update is rolled out?

    They told you it only had bug fixes and improvements yet we have obviously found new features like the ability to delete from other TiVo Premeires and the increase in multiple networking functionality. Things like being able to remote delete would be nice to know rather than depending on other users to find it or stumbling across it yourself.

  17. Dave,
    Really sad to see that the Hulu Plus is not going to be on the Tivo HD. Tivo, is really relaying more on Lawyers to make a profit for them than actually technology innovation. After ou buy the lifetime service you really get almost nothing in the way for improvements. I have Hulu plus on my Vizio XVT (i have read your posts about that item as well.) Any chance that Slingbox will have an yahoo widget on vizio in the near future?

  18. Brennok, I’m not sure I’ve ever asked them why. But that is how they roll. Very frustrating as both a customer and a blogger. Even the tight lipped Apple puts out release notes.

    I’ve only been half tuning in… does the remote delete work between platforms, or only Premiere-to-Premiere?

    Steve, at CES I did see a Flash-based Slingbox site intended for the Google TV platform. If the company was still independent, I could have seen some sort of son-of-Slingcatcher soft client. But Echostar’s primary business is selling satellite gear so I’m not hopeful.

  19. Although I’m not a current Hulu+ customer nor a Premiere owner (Series 3 and TiVo HD), I’m interested in the Hulu+ integration from the perspective of becoming a possible Cord Cutter in the near future. Leveraging TiVo’s OTA & OTT capabilities Cord Cutting starts to look like a more viable option. I’m waiting for the Three or Four Tuner Series 5 with a TiVoTwin extender before I upgrade.

  20. It works Premiere to Premiere. They also upped the number of networking functions you can do at once now to 6. Aaronwt found he could download from Amazon, transfer a recording to and from, while also recording two shows and watching a recording all at the same time now.

    I would be curious why if you ever think to ask them why not especially when these new features might be reason enough for some people to upgrade. It just seems like an obvious response to say hey we added this new feature rather than nothing at all.

  21. From @TiVo
    Hi All, In relation to Hulu Plus, we r rolling the app out beginning today. If u don’t currently see it u should w/in the next few days

  22. “Really? You’re holding up the Amazon implementation on Tivo as something you LIKE? … Without a computer or smart phone to figure out which episode is next, or to look up other information about a movie I might rent, its just unusable.”

    But I’ve got a computer. Several, in fact. I prefer to schedule my DVR recordings, gather and organize my Netflix Queue, and find my Amazon content on my laptop. Them futuristic IBM Selectrics have a damn fine UI for such tasks. A full keyboard and mouse/trackpad with a big screen – what a concept! It’s going to catch on big time one of these days.

    Then when I move to the lean-back UI, it’s just pure piggish consumption. That’s what teevee is for. Slaughter the hog and pick the veggies out back in the garden. Eat in the dining room.

  23. Just in time for the Hulu announcement, has refurbished TiVo Premieres for $60 (+$5 S/H). I’m strongly tempted to get one… how sure are folks that TiVo media streamers are around the corner?

  24. Hadn’t realized had the $60 Premieres back. I bought one last time and got MSD on lifetime which was $299 (a few got $199, grr, grr). Looks like the best a current subscriber can get is $399 for lifetime??? Really??? I am marginally happy with my upgrade—mostly because I could finally do a 2TB HD upgrade—-but would have never flipped the switch for $399….geez, TiVo, what are you people thinking?

    Oh yeah, Hulu plus— didn’t realize I had to turn the option on to see it…I was waiting for a software update! Let me try it later.

  25. can someone explain two things to me?

    First… why does someone with a tivo care about hulu at all? Record what you want to watch and enjoy… no need for ad laden / low quality streaming later… just plan a bit ahead.

    Second… does anyone know for sure tivo’s new pricing for multi-unit discount and if it affects grandfathered plans?

  26. I subscribe to Hulu Plus primarily for mobile. TV-based access is a bonus. It’s like On Demand, always stuff available. I often watch Daily Show and Colbert Report at the gym – it’s worth the $8/mo to skip the copy, transcode routine. And I’m looking forward to checking out some of the Criterion Collection. I don’t plan ahead much and don’t like organizing media – probably why I prefer Slacker to creating my own playlist.

    As to the state of MSD, it’s hard to say. It appears folks are being grandfathered based on the age of their unit or subscription, but I’m not sure there’s an official policy one can reference.

  27. My Premiere is in the office and gets light use, but I think it is ready to be swapped for the Series 3 plus external drive in the living room.

  28. “Just FYI @Dave and @Chucky… it appears the SDUI freeze bug is STILL there in the new 14.8 release”

    Too bad. Without it, I’d have upgraded to a Premiere a while ago at full freight prices. I want to give TiVo my money.

    I’d be willing to pay for the 2TB capacity, higher transfer speeds, and iPad app capabilities. (I don’t want Hulu+).

    But I ain’t gonna run that too slow HDUI in order to get those things. My TiVo HD is a quite capable, snappy, and happy DVR. I don’t want to take a step-back in usability for no compelling reason.

  29. I finally got 14.8 last night but can find no evidence of Hulu plus either. Granted, I would just turn it off like I did Amazon (though I can’t remember how I did that either…or how to turn it back on), but it just seems curious that Hulu plus is no where to be found. I never bothered to download the Hulu plus app for my PS3…but I just want to see it what TiVo did…

  30. Yeah, the announcement and rollout are not aligned ideally. Not sure what happened as I was under the impression it’d all go live Monday, but TiVo later told me the 14.8 update would be deployed universally by today (Weds) with Hulu Plus to presumably follow. Heck, even their own blog post said “available today” – which was Monday.

  31. Yet another feature that TiVo won’t deploy to the TivoHD. Why am I paying a monthly subscription again? Why exactly would I lock into the Tivo platform so that in 2-3 years they can come out with a “new” platform that won’t get new content?

    Thanks TiVo.

  32. “Yet another feature that TiVo won’t deploy to the TivoHD. Why am I paying a monthly subscription again?”

    To continue using your TiVo HD?

    For the same reason I pay my monthly subscription, (though yearly in my case,) for my TiVo HD?

    My query: why do folks without a Premiere bitch about things which don’t harm their existing experience?

  33. Answer to your query: Because TiVo, whether or not it appears in their “legal agreement”, implies that new features will be part of the product in exchange for that fee. So, when new features are denied NOT because of some technical limitation, but because TiVo would prefer me to buy another platform, I get a little “bitchy”. Several other streaming video platforms work just fine on my TiVo hardware. Honestly, the one I’m most “bitchy” about, is the lack of support from the iPad app. Why does that require Premier hardware again? Oh, because they didn’t push an update to my hardware.

    If this company had any sense, they would work on providing maximum value for their loyal, paying, monthly customers. Instead, they get weary of them, release new hardware, and then tell them the monthly fees went up. Or, once again for those that didn’t get the message the first time, fail to allow those lifetime service payments to transfer to new hardware.

    Somehow, other companies seem to get this right….TiVo can’t seem to.

  34. “So, when new features are denied NOT because of some technical limitation…”

    See, that’s where you lose me.

  35. Well Chucky, I’m happy to agree to disagree with you. Thanks for the chat.

    However, that’s where TiVo is losing me….
    I guess they will find out if it is just me or a significant percentage of their subscriber base.

  36. I rebooted and checked a couple times a day and still no Hulu Plus. I even switched over to the SD menu to see if I could find it there. Then I looked back at Tivo Community and found a thread with a post from someone at Tivo saying that it’s under Video On Demand on the SD menu. Tivo’s website says it’s under Find Shows..

    I now have it under Find TV, etc on HD menus but what’s sad is I think I’m going to stick with the SD. I upgraded to a 2TB drive and I’m about 90% full. It takes forever to scroll down to something low on the list. I use the iPad when I want to search anyway…

  37. Utter BS. I usually wait for major version upgrades before buying new devices or software. I waited for the Tivo Series 3 HD to come out and come down to a reasonable price (I paid around $300 when I purchased less than 2 years ago). Now the Premier is out. I can understand their being a better interface or some additional features with the remote, etc, but Hulu Plus should be a software upgrade available for AT LEAST the Series 3 and above. In a day when there are alternate sources for TV in addition to the Cable and Satellite providers (namely internet content providers such as Hulu), it is sad to see that Tivo isn’t keeping up. I recently downgraded my cable tv to just a few of the local channels, reducing my overall bill by nearly $100 a month. I get the rest of my TV off Hulu and Netflix. Now I’m wondering why I even need the Tivo. I bought a ROKU for about $50 that gives me HD access to Hulu, Netflix and many, many other sources, with no monthly fee for the Roku (as opposed to the Tivo). I think at this point I am done with Tivo. I won’t be re-subscribing and I definitely won’t be purchasing a Premier.

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