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Hulu Finally Rolls Out Support for Offline Viewing of Shows & Movies, But It’s Only Available For Ad-Free Subscribers

Jason Gurwin

At their May 2018 Newfront Event, Hulu announced that they would allow you to download shows and movies to your mobile devices. Since, there has been much speculation exactly when the feature would launch. Starting today, customers with the Hulu No Ads plan ($11.99) can begin downloading content from the streaming service to their iOS devices. To access it, you will have to upgrade to the latest version of the Hulu App from the App Store. The feature is expected to roll-out to Android users in the near future.

Streamers will be happy to learn that the vast majority of Hulu’s shows and movies are available to download on-the-go. This includes Hulu Originals like The Handmaid’s Tale and The Act, as well as past seasons of hit shows like Family Guy, This is Us, and How I Met Your Mother, and ER. Over time, it’s expected that more shows should become available as offline access is included in new content agreements.

To access the feature, you’ll notice a new Downloads tab at the bottom of the Hulu App. This is the new hub that includes all shows you previously downloaded as well as the ability to “See What’s Downloadable.” If you are just browsing the app though, you can search for any title on Hulu and if it’s available for download, there will be a download icon on its details page.

Each Hulu account will be able to download across 5 different devices. At any given time, you can have 25 titles or movies downloaded across those devices. For instance, multiple episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale will count as a single title. The downloads will last for up to 30 days, but once you start watching content, the download will expire after 48 hours. You won’t have to re-download the content to access it, instead you will just have to renew the download when you return online.

It may surprise some that the feature is only coming to the Hulu No Ads plan, given that they had announced that it would be available to Limited Commercials customers at the same Newfront Event in 2018. To date, no ad-supported streaming service has offered offline access because of the challenge of integrating ads into downloads. In fact, when CBS All Access launched their offline access support last year, it was only available to their No Ads subscribers as well.

Whether it was a technical or business decision to not offer offline access to Limited Commercials customers is not entirely clear. By only offering it to No Ads subscribers, it brings more value to the more expensive plan and gives customers a bigger reason to upgrade. What is clear though, is that Hulu didn’t want to delay the feature even further, so they’ve brought it to the customers they could, with the hope that it could come to Limited Commercials customers in the future.

Since it’s only available for Ad Free subscribers, it may be a disappointment for those who were hoping to take advantage of the Disney+ bundle which includes Disney+, Hulu (w/ Ads), and ESPN+ bundle. Since there is not option to bundle the Hulu ad-free plan, if you want offline access to Hulu, you will have to subscribe to the service separately. However, you will still get access to offline access with Disney+ through the bundle. All Disney+ subscribers, since it will be ad-free, will be able to download content on up to 10 devices — with no limits on the number of downloads, except for the storage of your device.

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