In the world of live TV streaming online, Hulu has proven its worth. The service now has over 400,000 subscribers and growing. Yet the company is still suffering from buffering issues that have persisted for over a year. Now, Hulu is taking flack for buffering issues during the Olympics.
For its part, Hulu still considers its live TV service to be in “Beta”. That does not mean Hulu does not take any of its current technical issues seriously. In a recent Reddit AMA, Hulu SVP of Experience, Ben Smith, freely answered questions about usability issues without at any point using Beta status as an excuse.
However, the “Beta” label is more than just a technical one in terms of software development. It also serves a public relations purpose to project the image that the project is incomplete. In the mind of some users, a project in “Beta” releases the developer from some blame if features don’t work as intended. In the case of Hulu, it may also a misleading term. Most “Beta” versions are typically not offered on such a large scale and for such a long time. And since Hulu also offers a “private Beta”, one must wonder why the company is still using the term for its service as a whole.
Hulu’s Competitors Are Not in Beta
It’s easy to excuse the company for the PR move. Hulu with Live TV is less than a year old. The service launched on May 3, 2017.
Yet other OTT services also launched around the same time and are not using a “Beta” label. YouTube began offering their Live TV service in April of last year, just a month before Hulu. Even to this point, YouTube TV has never been labeled “Beta”. And while Philo has been around since 2009, the company officially launched its OTT service in November 2017. That service also landed without a “Beta” label.
The question remains: when, if ever, will the company consider its live TV service to be consumer-ready?