Hulu at the Consumer Electronics Show this week showed off a redesigned user interface highlighted by several new and useful features.
The starring attraction is a new Live TV guide that’ll be accessible via a lightning bolt icon in the main navigation bar. The guide, demonstrated to TechCrunch at the show, is said to more closely resemble the traditional TV guide found on cable boxes. Instead of scrollable rows of channels that stretch out for weeks, however, Hulu’s new guide will only focus on what is on right now and what is coming on in the next few hours.
Hulu’s goal with the new guide is to help users find something to watch when they aren’t looking for a specific show.
On-demand programming accounts for the majority of usage, even for Live TV customers. According to Ben Smith, Senior Vice President and Head of Experience at Hulu, 54 percent of usage is on-demand while only 46 percent is live (and most of the live usage is dominated by news and sports).
As such, Hulu knew its new guide needed to be fast. It’s not a visually rich interface, Smith said, but rather, it’s about speed and utility and focusing on a small set of things really well.
Hulu is also taking customer feedback into account. One new feature, called Stop Suggesting, allows viewers to permanently turn off recommendations for shows they don’t care about. It’s described as the equivalent of giving a “thumbs down” to Hulu’s recommendation engine which, moving forward, will take user feedback into consideration to craft a more personalized experience.
Another new feature will let users remove items from their Watch History – handy for hiding those guilty pleasures or the show you binge-watched without your significant other. The company is also working on a way to manually mark items as watched and continues to roll out push notifications, alerting users when a new episode of their favorite show is available or when their favorite team is playing a game. The former is especially handy considering all TV consumption doesn't necessarily happen on Hulu.
In related news, Hulu also revealed that it closed its 2017 fiscal year with more than 17 million total subscribers. That is an increase of more than five million subscribers over the past year. It’s nowhere close to Netflix’s record numbers but growth is growth.
Hulu's on-demand library, meanwhile, now consists of over 75,000 episodes across more than 1,700 series. That, according to Hulu, is more than twice the number of episodes available on any of the leading streaming services and makes its library the largest in the US.
Hulu's new Live TV guide and aforementioned new features are scheduled to arrive this spring.