11 Comments

Summary:

The Sony PlayStation3 didn’t offer any real advantages over other gaming devices or set-top boxes until it got dibs on Hulu Plus, making the PS3 the first console able to stream Hulu to the TV. But what’s the user experience actually like?

hulu plus on tv

With the exception of its Blu-ray player and the games Heavy Rain and Little Big Planet, until recently, the Sony PlayStation3 didn’t offer any real advantages over other gaming devices or set-top boxes. That all changed, however, when the PS3 got dibs on Hulu Plus, making it the first console capable of streaming Hulu’s epic catalog of content to one’s TV.

Thus, once I received a beta invite to Hulu Plus, I decided to take it out for a spin using my own PS3, the video evidence of which is below.

As mentioned in the video, the process of getting access to PlayStation Plus, the premium content system required in order to access the Hulu Plus beta, turned out to be a two-day-long series of annoyances, due entirely to Sony’s incredibly broken credit card authorization system, which makes it super-difficult to put money on your PlayStation account.

I ultimately resorted to going out and buying a PlayStation Network prepaid card, but the overall experience (including two frustrating phone calls with Sony technical support) definitely soured me on Hulu Plus before I’d even gotten a chance to use it.

The UI has its flaws, but it loads fast and is easy to navigate, and the breadth of content is way beyond what Hulu currently offers (cut for time: me reveling in the discovery of old Fox series like M.A.N.T.I.S., available in full). While some shows seemed to have the same number of commercials as the free version of Hulu, some had fewer or — in the case of the first season 30 Rock episode I test out here — none.

In short, the back catalog alone could be worth $9.99 a month to the hardcore television fan, and once the fall season gets started it’s not hard to see how this could be a cable replacement. The catch is that in order to gain access you have to get through Sony first, and acquiring PlayStation Plus proved thoroughly frustrating.

Frankly, if you don’t already own a PS3, you might exercise some patience and hold out for another option. Xbox 360 owners, early 2011 isn’t that far away.

Related GigaOm Pro Content (subscription required): Three Reasons Hulu Plus is No Threat to Netflix

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  1. Video: Hulu Plus on the PS3 Walkthrough and Review – freyrt Tuesday, August 24, 2010

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  2. My big problem with Hulu Plus, and why I’ve already canceled it, is that you can only access the network shows on it. I watch a lot of the shows on USA and none are available, same with SyFy. If they expand to include more networks, I’ll consider signing back up.

  3. That’s too bad that the sign up process was a challenge for you. I’m an existing PS3 account holder and it was literally a handful of clicks to get up and running. Super-easy. The Hulu Plus UI does need some work, but I’m excited for what’s ahead with the service.

  4. Somerandomguy Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    Playon media server has been streaming Hulu to PS3 users (and XBox360) for a few years now — and for a one time flat fee. There’s no fancy UI, but it most often works without a hitch for me. One of the best investments I ever made for my system, though the new “premium” offerings left a bad taste in my mouth as an early adapter.

  5. Big Dave Zatz Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    Look closer at the Hulu (on PC) versus Hulu Plus (on TV or mobile) content offerings. In some ways there seems to be more (episodes) but in other ways there seems to be less (series). Then even warn you on the Plus page by saying some content isn’t licensed for mobile or tv usage (yet?).

    But, to counter the PlayOn shill, Hulu Plus offers HD with that decent UI and I expect the catalog to grow. And, unlike PlayOn, requires no PC intermediary.

    1. If he’s not a shill, I apologize. I’ve had way too many slimy and spammy encounters.

  6. Video: Hulu Plus on the PS3 Walkthrough and Review | PS3 Hacking Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    [...] post: Video: Hulu Plus on the PS3 Walkthrough and Review Discuss in the [...]

  7. Nice review, Liz. I had a similar problem with Sony’s account management. My credit card expiration date had changed, so I wasn’t able to add funds via the PS3. I then went to the Sony website and changed my cc exp date. The site told me the update was successful, so I next went to add funds on the website. The fund addition there didn’t work. I then went back to the PS3 and was able to add funds. Ugh.

  8. How Could Cheap iTunes Rentals Change Television Online? Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    [...] for the $10 a month I pay for Hulu Plus (which, without shelling out $99 for an Apple TV, I can watch on my television thanks to the PS3), I have unlimited access to the service’s catalog of [...]

  9. Could Cheap iTunes Rentals Change Television Online? | The Iphone Blog Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    [...] for the $10 a month I pay for Hulu Plus (which, without shelling out $99 for an Apple TV, I can watch on my television thanks to the PS3), I have unlimited access to the service’s catalog of [...]

  10. Why I Love My PlayStation3: Video « Thursday, October 21, 2010

    [...] Plus The PS3 was the first console to get access to Hulu Plus, and since activating it, I’ve found it to be a solid solution for when I forget to DVR certain shows or want to enjoy [...]

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