Updated on October 24 to reflect that Hulu has released this feature for Android devices.
Hulu recently joined the ranks of streaming services that let you download content to watch when you’re offline. This is good news for people who travel or don’t otherwise have ubiquitous high-speed connectivity (i.e., mostly everyone). But there’s a catch. Multiple catches, actually.
First, not everyone qualifies. To take advantage of Hulu’s new download feature, you need to be a $12/month ad-free subscriber. This pretty much excludes anyone using Hulu in a bundle with some other service (e.g., Disney+, Spotify, etc.).
If you’re looking to download the latest episode of This Is Us for a private ugly cry in your hotel room, you’re out of luck—you’ll have to pick an older episode. Similarly, you can’t download current episodes of The Good Place or any episodes of South Park. But you can download older episodes of some. And some current episodes.
Some kids’ content is downloadable, which may be a nice way to ensure you have some shows for the little ones to watch on your wilderness getaway. And some movies. Again…just some of them. Bottom line: It’s too, unnecessarily confusing, just like Hulu’s episode availability and windowing practices. (Blame licensing.)
You rocking the latest Windows tablet or convertible? Well, you’re probably out of luck. Hulu has released the downloading feature on its iOS apps for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad and for Android phones and tablets. Don’t expect to see this feature on Windows any time soon…or at all.
…for Some Time
And, of course, there are even further limits on when and how you can watch these downloaded bits. Hulu downloads expire 30 days after you download them. You’ll need to re-download if you haven’t already watched them by then. Once you start watching something, you have 48 hours to complete it. Otherwise it expires. So don’t expect to start something in the car on your weekend getaway and finish it a few days later on the way back home.
We love seeing services make their content more readily available to customers, so this is generally a good thing. We just wish Hulu downloads didn’t have to come with so many catches. Any content, any place, any device—why is that so hard?
If you’re confused about what you can download when and where, you can review Hulu’s FAQs about the new feature.