Hulu’s Freemium Headache: App Store Customers Drop Hulu Plus Ratings

Hulu Plus iPhoneHulu fans are voicing their complaints against Hulu Plus loud and clear using the App Store rating system. Announced last week, as a premium Hulu service, Hulu Plus brings Hulu’s content from the web to your mobile device.

Apparently thousands of Hulu users didn’t get the memo about the app being part of a premium service. In response, fans are giving the app a 1-star rating (over 5000 times) along with plenty of reasons to stick with Hulu’s free desktop service.

Hulu Plus: Bait & Switch In Disguise?

To anyone that has never heard of Hulu, Hulu Plus appears to be a bait-and-switch. On the Hulu Plus iTunes page you don’t immediately see where Hulu casually mentions a $9.99 subscription to access content in the app. Unfortunately for Hulu, this is making their strategy seem more like a bait-and-switch to first-timers. The confusing experience and negative reviews are inevitably cutting into the amount of first-time users that would convert well to desktop video junkies.

Freemium Headache

The lack of real free content from the app is putting some reviewers of the app on the defense, especially because the same content is free from your computer.

Because I am on an iPad I have to pay, but on a desktop I don’t… In what universe does this make sense? – fakehead 6/29

Offering full seasons is great, but not offering free content is insulting. Why can I not access all the same content that is free on flash enabled devices? – Parabolee77 6/29

Good thing there’s a trial for this. Too many commercials for the brief time I tried playing with it. If I scrub to find content, I get another commercial. You want people to pay for this? No thanks.  – RudestBuddhist 6/29

Yet Pandora, Grooveshark, and Spotify all have mobile apps that adopts elements of this business model too. Why aren’t Pandora’s ratings suffering? Because the best parts of it are free. At least when you pay for their premium service you won’t continue to hear or see ads.

What Should Hulu Do?

Hulu should be honest and apologize for the confusion. After all, $10 a month for Hulu’s content is a great deal. They should also make a note about the premium charge higher up in the app description. Lastly, you have to give a little to get a little sometimes. The lack of quality free content and persistent ads in Hulu Plus are disappointments for many.

  1. What is the first step you would take in a situation like this?
  2. Are App Store users in the wrong for their comments?
Corvida Raven

A natural pioneer at grasping the rapidly changing landscape of technology, Corvida Raven talks tech in plain English on