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Hulu Brings Live TV Guide, Vertical Video Player to Mobile Apps

Hulu is getting ready to tweak its mobile apps to put a bigger emphasis on live TV viewing: The company is set to launch new versions of its iOS and Android apps next week that will feature a new program guide for live TV as well as a number of other tweaks meant to improve the mobile viewing experience.

These will include a vertical video player that will allow live TV viewers start streaming linear programming while browsing the channel guide for something to watch. Hulu’s iPhone and iPad apps are also getting support for HDMI out, and the company is adding an improved Chromecast experience to its Android apps.

Also part of the update: The ability to fine-tune personal recommendations by allowing users to remove individual entries from their watch history, as well as to tell Hulu to stop recommending certain programming.

Hulu significantly revamped its mobile app when it launched its live TV service last year. At the time, the company was primarily looking to present live TV as just another source for on-demand content, organizing it by shows, and omitting the traditional grid guide.

Since then, a popular request had been to add the guide, and offer better access to live feeds, said Hulu vice president of product Richard Irving. As a result, Hulu added a dedicated tab for live viewing to its mobile apps, he explained. “Live TV is going to be one button away at all times.”

Irving said that mobile viewing already was up 84 percent year-over-year since the launch of the new mobile app. He also told Variety that Hulu’s team had been surprised by how many of the services users were mobile-first users. “That was really the sort of aha-moment,” he said. “To an increasing amount of people, this is the primary way they are watching.”

Hulu revealed earlier this month that it now has more than 20 million subscribers for its various tiers, which include both its live TV service as well as its cheaper on-demand tiers. The company recently struck a partnership with Spotify that could further grow those numbers, giving existing Spotify subscribers the ability to access both Spotify’s on-demand services and Hulu’s ad-supported on-demand tier for a combined $13 per month.

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