Google’s cheap Chromecast Internet TV adapter already lets users stream free Hulu content to their televisions, in a fashion — but the video site is promising to deliver a better experience through the device for subscribers of its Hulu Plus service.
“We are actively working with Google to bring Hulu Plus to the platform,” Hulu rep Meredith Kendall said. “At Hulu, we’re constantly innovating to provide our users with access to their favorite TV shows anytime, anywhere, on any device.”
With Hulu’s dual biz model, a certain amount of TV show full eps and movies are available free at Hulu.com, while the $7.99 per month Hulu Plus service provides dozens of complete past seasons of TV shows and other selections.
In addition, a big part of the Hulu Plus value proposition is that it provides access across a range of mobile and connected-TV devices — and in the past, Hulu has blocked devices that played back its free content on TVs.
However, Hulu won’t be able to easily stop users of Google’s new Chromecast from using the “cast” feature to stream Hulu.com video from a Chrome browser tab to a TV. But that’s not a big deal — it’s effectively equivalent to connecting your computer to the TV via HDMI, which the website has never been able to prevent. Rather, expect Hulu to emphasize that it is enhancing its iOS and Android apps to take advantage of the native capabilities of the Chromecast device, for smoother playback and better remote-control capabilities and browsing.
Chromecast has had a honeymoon reception, quickly selling out stock from online retailers within 24 hours of its July 24 launch. The simple $35 device, a little bigger than a USB flash drive, plugs into an HDMI slot in the back of a TV. Instead of a dedicated remote control, Chromecast uses a smartphone, tablet or computer for browsing and navigation.
Initially Chromecast provides native support for YouTube videos, Netflix streaming and Google Play content purchases. But while for now it lacks the breadth of content partners that competing devices like Apple TV and Roku have, Internet video players are quickly lining up to connect with Google’s over-the-top player.
HBO this week said it is “actively exploring” bringing the HBO Go service to the device, and streaming-music service Pandora will soon support Chromecast, according to Google. Others interested in adding support for Chromecast include AOL, Discovery’s Revision3, Redbox Instant by Verizon, Vevo and Vimeo.
Hulu is owned by The Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox and Comcast’s NBCUniversal. Earlier this year, the media congloms had solicited bids to sell the company — their second time shopping around Hulu after failing to unload it in 2011. But the trio ended the sale process in mid-July, announcing they would invest $750 million in Hulu to add more content and grow the business.
The JV runs one of the most popular video websites in the U.S., and has claimed to have more than 4 million Hulu Plus subs.