Hulu has announced its long-expected premium service, Hulu Plus, with a "preview-by-invite" free trial.
While the service isn't without it's head-scratchers (it still features commercials, for example), the advance word from CNet is that it "freakin' rocks" (their words, not mine.) Entire seasons of currently-running shows are available, with new episodes appearing the day after their initial airdate (another of those head-scratchers.)
CNet's early review points to what may be the strongest case for a premium Hulu: the ability to use the service on Samsung's internet-ready televisions and Blu-Ray players, Apple's iPhone, iPad, and third generation iPod Touch, and, in the near future, the PlayStation 3; XBox 360 is due in early 2011. (Apple products need to be running iOS4.)
Hulu's chief competitor looks to be Netflix, which has established a robust streaming library of commercial-free feature films and television programs and, with an already-operational iPad app and a forthcoming iPhone one, ought to be a strong rival.
When considered on the grander scale, though, one gets the impression that each service, in fact, compliments the other. Hulu has the stronger lineup of current shows; Netflix has to wait until seasons are released on DVD, often causing a lag of several months. Netflix has a greater library of feature films, all commercial free; it remains to be seen if Hulu's feature library will continue to have periodic commercial breaks.
The two services, at their most basic levels (each coming in at almost ten bucks), are still markedly cheaper than a cable subscription with comparable features, which becomes very attractive. Wired has more on that.
What do you think? Have you checked out the Hulu preview? Let me know how it goes- and if it's worth the Hamilton.