Tag Archives: hulu

Binge watching on Netflix no longer requires internet access

Netflix subscribers can now binge on many of their favorite shows and movies even when they don’t have an internet connection.

The long-awaited offline option announced this week gives Netflix’s 87 million subscribers offline access to videos for the first time in the streaming service’s decade-long history.

Netflix is matching a downloading feature that one of its biggest rivals, Amazon.com, has been offering to its video subscribers for the past year. It’s something that also has been available on YouTube’s popular video site, though a subscription is required in the U.S. and other countries where the site sells its “Red” premium service.

The new feature puts Netflix a step ahead of two other major rivals. Offline options aren’t available on HBO’s internet-only package, HBO Now, or Hulu, although that service has publicly said it hopes to introduce a downloading feature.

Netflix subscribers wishing to download a video on their smartphone or tablet need to update the app on their Apple or Android device.

Not all of the selections in Netflix’s video library can be downloaded, although several of the service’s most popular shows, including “Orange Is The New Black,” “House of Cards,” and “Stranger Things,” are now available to watch offline.

Downloadable movies include “Spotlight,” this year’s Oscar winner for best film. Notably missing from the downloadable menu are movies and TV shows made by Walt Disney Co. Those still require an internet connection to watch on Netflix.

The Los Gatos, California, company is promising to continue to adding more titles to its offline roster.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings had long resisted calls for an offline-viewing option, much to the frustration of customers who wanted flexibility to use their subscriptions to watch a show or movie when traveling on a train, plane or car where internet connections are spotty or completely unavailable.

Earlier this year, Hastings finally indicated he might relent and introduce downloading.

The change of heart coincided with Netflix’s expansion into more than 130 countries, including many areas with shoddy or expensive internet connections that make the ability to watch video offline even more appealing.

Netflix ended September with 39 million subscribers outside of the U.S.

The offline option may accelerate the decline of Netflix’s steadily shrinking DVD-by-mail service, which offers the ability to watch video without an internet connection. Netflix’s DVD side still has one distinct advantage — access to recent theatrical releases before they are available for streaming.

Netflix’s DVD service ended September with 4.3 million subscribers, a decrease of nearly 10 million customers during the past five years.

Free episodes to disappear from Hulu

Hulu is dropping free TV episode as it works on an online television service to rival cable TV.

Free episodes — typically the most recent four or five episodes from a show’s current season — will be gone from the site within a few weeks. Instead, Hulu is making free episodes available through Yahoo.

While Hulu started as a free site, supported by advertising, free video has become increasingly more difficult to find as Hulu tries to lure viewers into a subscription — $8 a month for a plan with ads, and $12 without. In recent months, visitors to Hulu.com have been presented with prominent links to subscribe, with links to free video buried in a menu after signing in.

And free episodes haven’t been available on Hulu’s mobile apps or streaming-TV devices, just on Hulu.com from a traditional computer. Now, they won’t be on Hulu.com at all.

Devotees of Hulu’s free on-demand videos will be able to find them by visiting the new Yahoo View site from a computer. The Yahoo site will not have free episodes of CW shows such as “Arrow” and “The Flash,” as Hulu has been offering, because CW has a broader deal with Netflix instead. Yahoo says it will have the past five episodes of ABC, NBC and Fox shows available. The Fox shows will appear eight days after their TV airing, as is the practice at Hulu.com now. Yahoo will also have some older CBS shows.

The episodes on Yahoo are not currently available on a phone, although Yahoo is working on a mobile web version and an app. Yahoo says the mobile version will be free, but it may not have all the same video as the desktop computer site because of content licensing restrictions.

Hulu says relatively few people watch the free videos. It now has about 12 million subscribers who pay for original shows, the entire current seasons of some network shows and access to Hulu’s library on mobile and streaming-TV devices like Roku.

Hulu also plans to launch a live online TV service next year. It would show broadcast and cable channels in real time, without making viewers wait until the next day for episodes. In a move that could make that service more appealing, Time Warner Inc. recently took a 10 percent stake in Hulu, joining the TV and movie conglomerates — Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox and Comcast’s NBCUniversal — that already owned it. Time Warner plans to contribute some of its channels, including TNT and TBS, to the new service.

Several other companies already offer live, paid TV over the internet, including Sony and Dish. DirecTV plans a service for later this year as well.

Yahoo also has broader ambitions for View. It wants to add video from other Yahoo properties and from other networks and studios. However, its previous attempt at an online video hub, Yahoo Screen, shut down in January, despite having new episodes of the cult comedy “Community” after its cancellation by NBC.

Verizon, which is buying Yahoo to help the phone company grow a digital advertising business , makes TV episodes and short videos available on its go90 mobile app. Phil Lynch, the head of media and content partnerships at Yahoo, says that as the deal gets closer to closing early next year, it “makes sense that we have integration discussions.”

Summer streaming all about movies, miniseries and catching up with the year’s best shows

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Will Arnett plays the title character in the third season of “BoJack Horseman.”

NETFLIX

When your Orange is the New Black binge is over (so, probably three days ago) there’s a long wait for new stuff on Netflix (unless you’re a fan of Marco Polo…). But the wait should be worth it. Animated cult favorite Bojack Horseman is set to return July 22, with Will Arnett’s washed-up anthropomorphic horse character considering his legacy amid a turbulent Oscar campaign. In August, Baz Luhrman’s latest project, the ’70s-era musical drama The Get Down, about the rise of hip hop in the Bronx, will debut its first six episodes on August 12.

Tired of internet streaming being all about TV? Good – you’re on the same page as Netflix, which is positioning itself to bulk up its film library this summer with some new deals. It’s already acquired the original Jurassic Park trilogy and Oscar-winner Spotlight. The summer will see the addition of the Back to the Future trilogy (July 1) and The Big Short (July 6), among many others. And in September, Netflix’s exclusive partnership with Disney will begin, bringing all the latest films produced by the company — now including Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars movies — to the service.

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“Difficult People” stars Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner.

HULU

Hulu’s bread-and-butter is still next-day streaming of what’s on TV during the regular season, so the best recommendation for the summer months is just to catch up on all the things you’ve missed while watching your other streaming services. Our picks would be Broad City, the last (and admittedly least) season of The Good Wife, the no-longer-final season of Nashville and ABC’s full slate of family comedies that are way better than Modern Family (i.e., Fresh Off the Boat, The Real O’Neals, Black-ish), but follow your instincts.

That said, Hulu’s original content arm is making a big play. It’s already dropped a new season of Casual, the comedy it casually (see what I did there?) launched last October about a newly divorced mother living with her brother and teenage daughter. In July, it’ll add a new season of Difficult People, the hilarious, offbeat comedy starring Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner as struggling and jaded comedians (July 12), and East Los High, the teen drama set in east LA now in its fourth season.

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Last year’s breakout hit “Mr. Robot” has arrived on Amazon Prime.

AMAZON PRIME

Summertime is Amazon pilots time, but grownups only have two options to vote on this season (the rest are for kids’ shows). Which of the two you’re more drawn to may depend more on which facet of Peak TV you’re more irritated by. If you’re done with aggressively gorgeous period dramas, check out The Interestings, which follows a group of ambitious friends who meet at an arts camp in the ‘70s, are chasing their dreams in the ‘80s and have for better or worse settled into adulthood in the ‘90s, featuring Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under) as the primary friend alongside Jessica Paré (Mad Men) and David Krumholtz (Numb3rs). On the other hand, if you want something that isn’t trying to be drama and comedy simultaneously, try The Last Tycoon, a Matt Bomer-driven depiction of 1930s Hollywood, inspired by an unfinished F. Scott Fitzgerald work.

Amazon Prime has also snagged the first season of one of summer’s hottest shows: Mr. Robot, only a few weeks away from its July 13 season two premiere on USA Network. The drama follows Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek), a hacker with social anxiety disorder and depression who is recruited to join anarchist “Mr. Robot” and his team of hacktivists.

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Bill Simmons hosts the weekly show “Any Given Wednesday” as part of his new deal with HBO.

HBO GO

True Detective may be dead in the water, but HBO isn’t willing to give up on gritty, enigmatic crime miniseries so soon. July 10 marks the premiere of their new venture: The Night Of, an eight-part series that follows the investigation of a murder in New York City. Originally, the show was a passion project of the late James Gandolfini, who loosely adapted it from British show Criminal Justice and planned to star as the central attorney. John Turturro will now play the role, chasing the answer to whether or not a young Pakistani man (Riz Ahmed) murdered a female stranger on the Upper West Side.

This summer’s also marking the premiere of HBO’s new series Any Given Wednesday, a talk show helmed by ousted Grantland editor-in-chief Bill Simmons. Like that ESPN-hosted longform journalism site, the new show (now with a few episodes already in the bank online) will feature interviews and discussions about pop culture and technology as well as Simmons’ core focus on sports.

‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Kimmy Schmidt’ lead spring streaming recommendations

HBO GO

If you’re a subscriber to HBO GO or HBO NOW, you know what’s coming. Winter — I mean Game of Thrones season 6. The April 24 premiere finds Cersei humbled, Sansa on the run, Arya blinded, Dany captured and Jon Snow dead — or, as Billy Crystal might say, “mostly dead.” Which is a step up from every other GoT character you’ve loved and lost.

HBO is hoping, though, that your mind’s not too blown after the premiere to catch the two comedies also premiering April 24. The socially inept techies of Silicon Valley will be launching their third season, in which lead character Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) fights to regain control of his startup after being forced out as its CEO. Similarly struggling is Veep’s President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), who will open the fifth season facing a tie electoral vote that puts her re-election prospects in the hands of byzantine government bureaucracy — exactly what the show’s so good at skewering.

SHOWTIME

Showtime feels like the little brother of the big premium cable networks, always playing second fiddle to HBO. But its partnership with Hulu is a step ahead of HBO’s similar team-up with Amazon Prime. HBO is only releasing its older shows on the streaming library, but Showtime is being featured as a premium add-on for Hulu, so you can watch any show or movie for less than the cost of a stand-alone subscription — $9 a month versus $11.

Showtime has a pretty extensive TV and film library that we won’t get into — other than to say their biggest hits Homeland, Dexter, Shameless and Weeds are all available. In the next few months, two of their more underrated shows will see season premieres.

First is House of Lies (that show you keep mixing up with House of Cards), on April 10. Instead of a scowling Kevin Spacey and a devious Robin Wright, you get a smarmy Don Cheadle and an ambitious Kristin Bell, working as management consultants trying to secure deals at any cost. Then there’s Penny Dreadful, premiering May 1. The Victorian-era horror drama, in the vein of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, features characters from literature’s most terrifying works — Frankenstein, Dracula, The Portrait of Dorian Grey — facing demons and monsters both physical and mental.

NETFLIX

TV has so many antiheroes that an anti-antihero can be an alarmingly refreshing concept. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, arguably the buzziest show launched by Netflix last year, will return to the streaming service April 15 with the same bright, sunshiney energy that made its tale of a former “Mole Woman” escaping her bunker and thriving in New York City so compelling. This season is actually the first that creator Tina Fey has developed for Netflix (the show was originally meant for NBC), but she’s promised that the show and lead actor Ellie Kemper won’t be breaking out the profanity or nudity just because they can.

One strong independent funny woman not enough? All you have to do is hold on until May 20, when comedian Maria Bamford will explode onto your screens in Lady Dynamite. If this semi-fictionalized tale of “a woman who loses — then finds — her s**t” is as weird, unorthodox, in-your-face and wonderful as Bamford’s work in stand-up and on shows like Arrested Development, we’re in for a hell of a ride.

HULU

Hulu has some big TV coups this month, thanks to a landmark deal with Warner Bros. Television. The biggest get? Mid ‘00s teen drama classic The O.C., available on streaming for the first time since it went off the air in 2007 after only four seasons. Also arriving is fellow CW hit Smallville — perhaps the perfect salve to victims of Batman v Superman — as well as more recent shows like Blindspot and Lucifer.

There’s some nice original programming too, to sweeten the deal. Aaron Paul-vehicle The Path, about members of a religious cult in New Hampshire, has already premiered (to mixed reviews, admittedly, but those critics who liked it are fittingly fanatical). April also marks the return of The Mindy Project after a long winter hiatus. Mindy Kaling’s sitcom got increasingly realistic after making the jump from Fox to Hulu, and the midseason premiere will double down on that shift, with OB/GYN Mindy Lahiri and her son Leo on their own after she leaves her fiancé Danny Castellano.

AMAZON PRIME

If you haven’t joined Clone Club, sweet Jesus please join Clone Club. This year’s secular Easter miracle was the release of Orphan Black’s third season (FINALLY) on March 27. The new season of this edgy, grounded sci-fi series about women who discover they’re clones caught up in a global conspiracy shows up on BBC America April 14, so if cord-cutters can catch up before then, they’ll have a few days to enjoy knowing as much as their snooty cable-owning friends.

Prefer your bundles of joy not carbon copies created in a lab and studied as part of an ongoing experiment? Then you might like the second season of Catastrophe, the Rob Delaney/Sharon Hogan Anglophile romcom about a bi-continental couple whose one-night stand leads to an impromptu relationship. The comedy of Season 1 came from Rob and Sharon trying to date while pregnant; Season 2 jumps ahead in time to find Sharon pregnant again and the two as dysfunctional as ever.

Wisconsin-set ‘Making a Murderer’ tops winter streaming recommendations

Steven Avery.

It’s a name you might not have known a few weeks ago, but one that’s now almost inescapable thanks to Making a Murderer, Netflix’s answer to viral true crime sensations such as the podcast Serial and the HBO series The Jinx. Released in full on Dec. 18, the 10-episode documentary, rated “binge-worthy” by Time magazine, has captivated streaming audiences everywhere and is perhaps one of the most-watched original series released by the streaming service in an already-strong year.

Perhaps nowhere is the show more polarizing than here in Wisconsin. Avery, who’s from Manitowoc County, served 18 years in prison beginning in 1985 after being convicted of sexually assaulting a Manitowoc woman. He was ultimately exonerated of the charge, thanks to the efforts of the Wisconsin Innocence Project and DNA testing, and released in 2003. But a few years later, Avery was arrested again and charged with the death of photographer Teresa Halbach — a crime for which he’s currently serving a life sentence. Making a Murderer suggests the sheriff’s department and prosecutors mishandled the case at best and, at worst, could have framed him for it.

The response to that suggestion has been varied and often visceral. Two separate Internet petitions calling for the pardoning of Avery (and his nephew, Brendan Dassey, who was also convicted for the crime) have already amassed at least 160,000 signatures. A petition directed at the White House has the 100,000 signatures necessary to require President Obama to respond.  Prosecutors maligned by the documentary have come out harshly against it, with Manitowoc County Sheriff Robert Hermann telling Appleton’s The Post-Crescent that the series skews evidence, takes it out of context, and should be considered a “movie” rather than a documentary.

Make up your own mind. Netflix and its competitors both in streaming and traditional TV may be flooding the market with a glut of quality fictional programing, but even with its veracity challenged by those it condemns, Making a Murderer stands out as a vibrant examination of real life, raising real questions about the inner workings of our criminal justice system.

Some of the other top offerings from streaming services to watch for this winter are:

NETFLIX

Making a Murderer is going to dominate the conversation about Netflix for the next few months, but by March 4 the streaming service is poised to shift into campaign mode. That’s when its first success story House of Cards returns, with now-President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) embarking on a re-election campaign that’s sure to be as cutthroat as his original path to the White House.

This winter will also see the long-delayed arrival of the final season of Parks and Recreation on Jan. 13 (although it’s been on Hulu since airing), Chelsea Handler’s four-part documentary series Chelsea Does on Jan. 23, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, the delayed sequel to the 2000 martial arts film, on Feb. 26.

Netflix’s reboot of Full House also shows up on Feb. 26, but the more we hear about Fuller House, the more we want to tell everyone involved to “Cut It Out.”

AMAZON PRIME

The final months of 2015 were big ones for Amazon’s original programming. Transparent, the company’s first breakout success, turned in another exemplary set of 10 episodes in December, taking the story of transgender family matriarch Maura (Jeffrey Tambor) and her family in fascinating new directions that explored the family’s past tragedies and attempts to heal themselves in the present. Amazon Prime got another boost from The Man in the High Castle. Based on Philip K. Dick’s alternate historical novel of the same name, it explores what happens when Germany and Japan occupy and divide the United States after winning World War II. The series’ pilot was the most-watched in the history of Amazon Prime’s original programming when it premiered last January, and the full 10 episodes subsequently became the company’s most-streamed original series.

The second season of the classical-musicians-behaving-badly dramedy Mozart in the Jungle dropped on Dec. 30 and continues into 2016. Come for the resoundingly attractive Gael García Bernal, stay for national treasure Bernadette Peters.

HULU

Hulu’s value still resides primarily in the content it gets from other providers — with next-day streaming available for most network TV shows and an increasingly large library of Hollywood’s most popular films. 

But this winter marks the premiere of one of the service’s few original programs to date: 11.22.63. Based on a Stephen King novel, the nine-hour limited series follows a schoolteacher (played by James Franco) who travels back in time to prevent the assassination of JFK but finds his mission more complicated than he expected. The J.J. Abrams-produced series will start airing weekly episodes on (when else?) Presidents’ Day, Feb. 15.

HBO GO

If you’re a parent with an HBO subscription, this is the month you get to brag to all the other parents at daycare about how your munchkins have already seen the latest episodes of Sesame Street, premiering on the cable station and its streaming component HBO GO on Jan. 16 (don’t worry, the episodes will still air on PBS after a nine-month exclusivity window). After the kids go to bed, you can tag team episodes of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and new ’70s music industry drama Vinyl starting Feb. 14, or wait a week to start half-hour comedies Girls and Togetherness Feb. 21.

See also: Netflix documentary stirs national debate over prosecutorial misconduct in famed Wisconsin murder case

Hulu plans series based on Stephen King’s ’11/22/63′

The internet TV service Hulu plans to stream a nine-hour series based on Stephen King’s time-travel book about the Kennedy assassination.

Hulu announced its plan for “11/22/63,” produced by King and J.J. Abrams, on Sept. 22.

King said in a statement that if any of his works cried out for “long-form, event TV programming,” then “11/22/63” is it.

In the 2011 novel, a high school teacher goes back in time to try to prevent the killing of President John F. Kennedy by Lee Harvey Oswald.

The release date for the series was not announced. The cast also was not announced by Hulu or Warner Bros. Television.