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Hulu Finally Adds Downloads for Offline Mobile Viewing

Hulu at long last is launching one of its customers’ most-requested features: the ability to download TV shows and movies to mobile devices for watching them on the go.

The download feature, which has been several years in the works, gives Hulu subscribers on the $11.99 no-commercials plan the ability to download tens of thousands of TV episodes and movies. It’s not available to customers who have the entry-level $5.99-per-month package with ads.

For now, it’s available only on Hulu’s iOS app for Apple devices. The company says the feature will be coming to the Android app “soon.”

The majority of Hulu’s catalog, which includes some 85,000 total TV episodes, is available for offline viewing. That includes most Hulu originals, including full seasons of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Veronica Mars,” “Shrill” and “The Act” as well as licensed content including “Family Guy,” “Desperate Housewives,” “This Is Us,” “How I Met Your Mother” and “ER.”

The move comes nearly three years after Netflix bowed the same feature, and four years after Amazon Prime Video added that ability for both iOS and Android apps. Disney Plus, launching Nov. 12, also will include content downloads.

Hulu originally anticipated rolling out offline viewing in 2017 but that got back-burnered amid other development priorities — specifically, as Hulu worked on new features for the live TV service.

A Hulu rep would not specify how much content is available to download for offline viewing, or spell out which TV shows or movies aren’t included. The reason some content is excluded is that some of Hulu’s past deals did not contemplate download rights.

According to Hulu, customers can download a maximum of 25 titles across five different devices. Downloads are available for up to 30 days; they will expire two days after a user starts playback. After downloaded content expires, viewers can renew an expired download when they’re connected online (assuming the content is still available on Hulu).

To access the download-to-go feature, Hulu users must update their iOS app to the most recent version. In the app, there’s a new “Downloads” tab at the bottom of the screen for accessing downloaded content. To find more shows and movies to download, users can click “See What’s Downloadable” and browse titles. Search results also will indicate whether a specific movie or show is available for download via a download icon on the details page.

Hulu’s download feature is available on both WiFi and cellular connections. Users can disable cellular downloading in Settings, if they want to avoid eating into mobile-data usage caps.

Hulu is under the full control of Disney, which picked up 21st Century Fox’s stake in the streamer and struck a deal with Comcast in May 2019 that eventually will give the Mouse House 100% ownership of Hulu.

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