Well, I’ve gone and done it. I signed up with Hulu as my PlayStation Vue replacement. With all of the streaming TV services out there, my two finalists were YouTube TV and Hulu. As you can see, Hulu won. The inability to watch YouTube TV on my Amazon Fire tablet coupled with the need to purchase additional Roku devices in order to use the service took YouTube TV out of the running.
Transitioning to Hulu
First, let me say this. Hulu offers so much more than PlayStation Vue that I’m almost kicking myself for not signing up with Hulu earlier. It would have saved me a bundle. You see, my grandson loves the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In order to watch it, I purchased several seasons from Amazon at a price of $19.99 each season.
Well, with Hulu, I’m able to access the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as well as many other programs my grandson likes as part of my monthly service. That alone is has made the switch worth it (let’s not mention my ability to watch complete seasons of Star Trek the Next Generation).
Understanding Hulu’s Interface
This is the biggest hurdle. As with any new app or software program, there’s the getting used to the new interface hurdle. This hurdle is especially large for me as Hulu offers so much more and has so many menu items.
One thing, however, that irks me is their overlining, instead of underlining clickable items. The rest of the universe underlines clickable items but Hulu highlights the clickable item by placing a line over the text. The overlining gets confusing when there are multiple lines of options. I guess over time I’ll get used to it.
The overlining only occurs when watching on a TV screen. This doesn’t happen on other devices.
Purchasing Hulu Add Ons
Fresh out of the box, Hulu is pretty good, but I felt the need to take a look at their add ons to enhance my viewing pleasure.
Unlimited Devices: With the monthly plan, we can watch programs on two steaming devices at a time. Not wanting to take on the role of streaming tv police, I opted to purchase the unlimited device option for an additional monthly cost of $9.99.
No Ads: I also considered purchasing the No Ads addon but thought it would be a waste. Let’s face it, if I’m watching live tv, there’s no way to block network ads so no sense in spending an additional $11.99 for something that wasn’t going to happen. Plus, I found that if I DVR a show and watch it a day or so later, many of the recordings stream without ads. My shows aren’t time-sensitive so I don’t mind watching then days after they air.
Increased DVR Capacity: The monthly subscription comes with 50 hours of DVR capacity. For an additional $9.99 you can purchase up to 200 hours. Honestly, for my purposes, 50 hours is more than enough. We found out, however, that adding favorite teams to My Stuff means Hulu will automatically record games played by those teams. I found this out when clicking around on the computer trying to get warm and fuzzy with the app. I was surprised to see there were only 4.6 hours of DVR space remaining.
Upon further investigation, I realized that my husband selected his favorite teams not truly understanding the DVR recording function. As such a host of college and professional games were recorded.
Removing the plethora of teams and deleting the recordings opened up space in our DVR limit. Having realized that, I make sure to check the Manage DVR setting on a regular basis to delete unwanted shows (teams). It’s not really necessary as Hulu, upon reaching the 50-hour DVR limit, will auto-delete the oldest recordings to make room for the new ones.
The Channel Lineup
There aren’t too many programs that I watch regularly, so the channel lineup isn’t such a big thing for me. Between having the ability to use the Hulu streaming library and installing Terrarium on my tablet, there isn’t much I can’t watch. I do, however, miss the OWN network. I especially miss Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday episodes.
Sports, however, is another story. In my opinion, there are a plethora of sports channels, but they still blackout local games for the home team. Go figure. As such, we keep our basic cable subscription with our local cable company to see the otherwise blacked out games.
Hulu – Switching between Channels
Another quirk that keeps rearing its ugly head is the inability to quickly go back to recently viewed channels. It doesn’t bother me so much, but it appears this feature is a must-have for sports fans. It makes viewing several games much easier.
I did an online search in an attempt to find an easy way to return to the previous channel and found this thread on the Hulu community site. The short answer is: There’s no easy way to do it. Folks are not real pleased about this fact. Apparently, a recent November 2019 update made it even more difficult to switch back to the previous channel.
My workaround is to modify the My Channels selections. Say the games are on NBC, Fox, and ABC. What I would do is add all three networks to the My Channels menu. This way during commercials it’s easier to switch to one of the other two networks without having to sift through the entire tv guide lineup.
How to Add Networks to My Channel
If you’re using a Roku device, to add channels, select Browse from the Home screen then scroll down to Networks. Once in the Networks menu, scroll over to the right and select A-Z.
Under the A-Z menu, there’s an alpha listing of networks. Select the network you’re interested in and press the Options icon (or triple dots if on a device) icon. Do not click on the actual channel because Hulu will display the channel’s programming instead of adding it to your favorite channels.
On the Options menu, you’ll see a plus “+” sign. Click it. It will then turn into a minus “–” sign. When you see the minus sign the network has been added to your My Channels selection. Test it by backing all the way out to the Home screen and select Live TV.
If you’re using the Amazon Fire Stick remote, the instructions are basically the same, but instead of clicking the Options (it doesn’t exist), you have to actually click on the network channel icon. It will then bring you to another screen where the plus “+” to add it to My Channel is located at the top of the screen.
The navigation may change slightly depending on which device you’re using to stream live programming, but the general idea is the same. Actually, it’s much easier to add channels to My Channels from just about any device that’s not a TV. In the future, I’ll add/delete channels using a computer instead of a TV remote.
Test Out the Added Channels
From Live TV, access the schedule guide. Once there, scroll to the left and select My Channels. There you’ll see the channels you just added. And yes! This is a convoluted way to add channels. Fortunately, deleting channels is easier. You can go to your My Stuff menu and scroll over to Networks. There you’ll be able to delete unwanted networks.
Note: Adding to networks to My Channel does not affect the DVR balance as these network channels are not automatically recorded. If you want recordings you have to select a specific show to record, not an entire network.
Hulu has So Many Options
Back in the day, there was just one TV (yes, it was black and white with rabbit ears). You also had to get up if you wanted to change the channel. Now there are TVs, computers, laptops, tablets, phones and even watches from which to watch programs. With each device enters an additional learning curve. I’m learning the idiosyncrasies of each device, but sometimes it’s difficult for me to remember whether it’s the back button on the Firestick and the Options button on the Roku or the other way around.
As with the device options, Hulu brings an additional level of program viewing. More than just a live TV replacement for PlayStation Vue. Hulu brings a mega library of programs. With the many viewing options between devices and the additional library of programs, sometimes this grandma gets overwhelmed. When that happens, I turn everything off and read a book. So thankful that there are still such simple things as books (audio or otherwise).