On Apple TV + Hulu

July 31, 2012

Finally. Hulu Plus arrives on Apple TV.

This is something I’ve long hoped for. Ever since Netflix was added to the Apple TV proper, Hulu was the missing service that kept the Roku and Mac Mini hooked up to our TV. Recently, AirPlay streaming from an iOS device or a recent Mac with Mountain Lion to the Apple TV seemed like another avenue, but both are a bit kludgy – particularly the latter as my current macs – including a 2010 MacBook Air – are too “old” to support AirPlay video streaming.

Anyhow, Hulu Plus on the Apple TV works well. I like that its browsing interface conforms to Apple’s look-and-feel of thumbnails and white titles on black. One personal issue with the Roku box is every channel has a completely different interface. And the picture quality and performance is noticeably better than our older Roku box and Mac Mini.

I long thought Hulu wouldn’t appear on Apple TV because it conflicts with Apple’s iTunes content sales. Apple does take a risk here that people will use iTunes less for TV show season passes, but Hulu is buried a few levels down and includes ads. There’s still an argument to be made for buying the individual episodes via iTunes to get rid of ads and get the better quality. But this move definitely makes the Apple TV even more competitive with the Roku boxes. Perhaps this is a move to juice hardware sales over iTunes content – and we all know how important those “installed user base” numbers are for content deals.

Anyhow, the Apple TV now has my favorite video options covered. It lacks Amazon Video, and for music, Pandora and Spotify, but that’s good enough that I now feel comfortable unplugging the Roku box which in turn, makes the whole entertainment set up that much simpler.

The implications for an Apple TV proper are positive, too. More content will be key to selling a likely, expensive Apple TV proper. And this point, an Apple TV with Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, iCloud, and media bridge from my Mac essentially covers everything.

When things get to the point where our TV only has an Apple TV box hooked up to it and nothing else – that’s when an Apple TV proper will personally make sense. We’re almost there.