Tag Archives: hulu

Use PlayOn To Skip Hulu Commercials

Hulu is a great service, except for the commercials. I’ve seen all the Geico commercials more times than I can count (though I still enjoy the “Pen Mightier Than the Sword” one), and my wife is downright hostile to the Chase Sapphire commercials. It turns out that there’s a simple method to use PlayOn to skip commercials. Let me break it down for you:

  1. Start the video in PlayOn
  2. Press pause
  3. Get a drink or snack, move the cat, or otherwise occupy yourself for 2 to 3 minutes
  4. Resume watching
  5. Fast-forward when a commercial comes on

The PlayOn servier (aka computer) continues recording the TV show while the client (Roku box or iPad) is still attached. This extra recording time gives room to fast forward after a few minutes buffer is built. Presumably, the commercial skipping ability should also be present in PlayLater, the first compelling argument for getting PlayLater.

The fast forward is dead simple when using an iPad. The video progress bar at the top of the iPad window constantly refreshes with the latest duration. Since the PlayOn iOS app supports AirPlay, this makes the iPad + AppleTV2 a powerfully friendly video destination for PlayOn.

With the Roku box, a bit of finesse is needed to get a perfect fast forward. We’ve gotten the 30 second jump down around our house and it’s been a wonderful improvement in Hulu watching. I will add that we still watch commercials when we haven’t seen them 10 times. But, I promise you, those Chase commercials won’t suddenly make me love their credit card. Gold paint or not.

Spotlight On Hulu

Hulu streaming video website provides first-run TV shows and movies. Hulu provides two offerings. Their free service will often give the last 5 episodes of TV shows, some 30 days after first airing, and a variety of back catalog movies. Hulu also offers their Hulu Plus subscription to gain better access to current and older shows and movies.

Offering Price
Hulu Free Uh, FREE
Hulu Plus $7.99 / mo

Hulu is attempting to sell themselves, and a Who’s Who list of potential suitors have come out of the woodwork. The results of this sale will have a large impact on Hulu’s personality and offerings over the next few years.

Places To Watch Hulu

Hulu supports most platforms, but it has to be done with a Hulu Plus account. The free Hulu is limited to PCs, although there are ways around it. Some shows have limitations to certain devices over and above the Hulu’s general limitations.

PlayBack Device Hulu Plus
Hulu Free
PC YES YES
Android Devices YES no
iOS Devices YES no
Roku (TV) YES no
Playstation 3 (TV) YES no
XBox 360 (TV) YES no
Wii (TV) no no
Blue-ray Players YES no
HDTVs YES no

Hulu Video Bitrates

Hulu offers standard definition video rates with the Hulu Free, with 720p high definition available on some shows when subscribing to Hulu Plus. Hulu not directly published the bitrates for various video qualities, but have provided enough hints that we can guess a bit. Hulu has signaled that they’re using both the On2 VP6 codec as well as the MPEG 4 / H.264 codec. It’s not clear yet which codec is used for which bitrates.

High Def Audio Quality Bitrate
1 HR TV Show Size
Better 720p Stereo 3.2 Mbps 1.45 GB
Good 720p Stereo 2.5 Mbps 1.1 GB
Standard Def Audio Quality Bitrate 1 HR TV Show Size
Best 480p Stereo 1.0 Mbps 0.45 GB
Good 360p Stereo 700 kbps 0.3 GB
Ok 288p Stereo 480 kbps 0.2 GB

Before using Hulu, check that your internet provider gives enough bandwidth to get the video quality you’re expecting.

Hulu Conclusions

The Good: Hulu is the easiest way to get access to TV shows without buying them outright from Apple or Amazon. The Hulu Plus service is worth the money to get full access to the TV shows if you’re a frequent TV watcher.

The Bad: Hulu’s movie selection is so-so and they have a love-hate relationship with TVs, in that they tend to hate showing all their shows on them. If TV is how you watch your shows, a PlayOn subscription ($39.99 / year) lets you get the most out of Hulu Free or Hulu Plus.

Yahoo to Acquire Hulu?

The business world is abuzz with the idea that Yahoo or some other suitor has made an unsolicited bid to purchase the streaming video upstart Hulu. There are two things that have surfaced as part of this that may piece together what’s happening.

Hulu’s Revenue for 2011

The Sacramento Bee article had a quick throw-away on Hulu’s revenue to possibly justify it as a takeover candidate.

In February, CEO Jason Kilar said Hulu will have 1 million paying customers by the end of the year and generate nearly $500 million in revenue, up from $263 million in 2010. He has said the company is profitable.

First, the quick math. 1 million customers x $7.99 / month x 12 months. That’s about $100 million, out of $500 million in revenue. That leaves about $400 million in revenue for ads. There’s an axiom for the internet that says “Look at who is paying money. They’re the customer. If you’re not paying money, you’re not the customer. You’re the product.”

If a company acquires Hulu, it’s not for 1 million customers who are actually paying. It’s for their advertising base of 27 million viewers. The HuluPlus viewers are interesting, but the advertisers pay the bills.

What about Yahoo acquiring Hulu?

Yahoo has a very advanced ad platform, up there with Google and Microsoft. If Yahoo were the suitor, they’d be vertically integrating and competing against Google’s YouTube purchase. YouTube is the number one web video destination (another “free” site – so the customers are the advertisers) with Hulu being close to number three. An acquisition extends the battle for web advertising space as Yahoo makes a move into video.

I do think that an acquisition by a non-media company (Comcast being a media company example) with some deep pockets would be beneficial for Hulu. It’d have more money to invest in content, which drives their customer base and advertising opportunities. I’m cautious about a media company media acquisition since they’re very conservative and tend to protect existing markets more than grow new ones.

Since everyone involved is staying mum, we’ll have to see how it develops.

Various web reports