Media

Hulu gets more YouTube-like with playlists

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Hulu unveiled some new features today that could help users discover more content on the TV- and movie-watching site, as well as make it a little more social.

The biggest addition is the ability to create playlists. The way it’s described on the Hulu blog, this feature should work the way you’d expect — whenever you find a video that you want to add, you just hit the “+” button and then either create a new playlist or add the video to an existing one. Playlists can be shared publicly or just be created for private use.

YouTube has a similar playlist feature, and as on YouTube, this seems to create a new way for users to explore the site. Rather than just seeing what’s featured on the front page or searching for their favorite show, viewers can also discover less obvious or popular videos. And it sounds like there’s a lot of content to explore, with Hulu chief executive Jason Kilar claiming in November that the site has 260 million content streams (each movie, episode, or clip is counted as a single stream).

There’s one drawback that immediately comes to mind: Much of the full-length content on Hulu is only available for a short time. For example, many TV shows only include their five most recent episodes on the site, making the older content available only through the Hulu Plus subscription service. So if you want a playlist that isn’t completely useless in a month, you’ll have to focus on clips, not full episodes (again, kind of like fan videos on YouTube). Among the playlists already created by Hulu editors, the majority seem to focus on clips, including the best clips from Family Guy and a series of short segments that summarize the romance between Jim and Pam in The Office.

The ability to create and share also gives users more reason to actually create a profile on Hulu, which in turn gives Hulu more information about its viewers.

The other new feature is a redesigned navigation bar, which allows you to explore the site through a general “browse” option (rather than forcing you to focus on movies or TV) and through sections for “most popular” and “recently added” content.

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