Hulu has been around for a relatively long time now, but the most recent interface for the streaming service has been one of the worst in the industry, second only to Amazon Prime. Thankfully, that starts changing today as Hulu is rolling out their largest redesign in years. Lists of movies and TV shows can be scrolled through horizontally instead of vertically, categories will allow for easier navigation, and access to third party subscriptions will be easier to navigate.
While Hulu is updating their streaming service, their latest competitor is expanding their reach. HBO Max announced new deals have been struck with a variety of cable and broadband operators, gaming consoles, and connected TVs to make the new streaming service available when it launches on May 27.
Get the details on the Hulu redesign and the latest expansion of HBO Max distribution below.
Hulu Redesign Starts Rolling Out
Hulu announced the massive redesign, which finally addresses a lot of the complaints users have had over the years about how clumsy the interface is and how difficult it can be to find exactly what you want to watch. Jason Wong, Hulu’s Director of Project Management addressed the criticism while not necessarily admitting that their interface was bad:
“When we launched the current experience three years or so ago, it was a pretty radical change. I think a standard has emerged as people have adopted streaming — it’s evident, and not just within the Disney family. We know that the majority of users have between three to five different services, and I think all of them employ this orientation on the living rooms devices.”
It should come as no surprise that the new interface shares some similarities with Disney+, since the House of Mouse now has a majority stake in the company. However, this redesign was apparently in the works for a year and a half, long before the Fox/Disney deal that resulted in Disney taking control of Hulu.
Get a preview of the redesign in the quick video below.
As you can see, the redesign now calls attention to some of Hulu’s original titles in order to draw more eyes to the shows they produce and distribute themselves. This is not dissimilar from what Netflix and Disney+ do on their main pages.
Otherwise, the layout of the titles is far easier to navigate, and it varies in its presentation. Along with the rows of titles you can scroll though, there are larger tiles that call out various movies and TV shows that may interest you. There will also be the standard Movies for You and TV for You categories with suggestions based on what you’ve watched and liked. However, if you scroll through rows of collections, you’ll also find titles that are more personalized to your interests.
All of these changes are part of an effort to make it easier for users to find titles to watch on Hulu, whether they’re old favorites or new titles they’re taking a chance on. Jim Denney, Hulu VP and Head of Product Management, said:
“One of the things [we wanted to improve on] is around density — giving people enough of a view into Hulu’s catalog. We’ve got one of the largest catalogs of any service available. When we look at our current [user interface], there are several ways to achieve the same thing. We want to close some of those gaps so it becomes more obvious which path to follow so users don’t get lost.”
The Hulu redesign will first be available on Apple TV and Roku starting today, and will roll out to other platforms in July.
HBO Max Strikes New Distribution Deals
The streaming wars are about to have another opponent as HBO Max gears up for launch on May 27. With just one week until the service debuts, they’ve announced a bunch of new distribution partners who will make access to HBO Max available at launch, not to mention providing the service as an upgrade to their current HBO subscriptions.
WarnerMedia’s new distribution agreements include Altice USA, Cox Communications, National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC), and Verizon, who will make HBO Max available for purchase through their services, giving current HBO subscribers immediate access to the new streaming service. Furthermore, Microsoft and Sony Interactive Entertainment have agreed to make the HBO Max app available through the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 gaming consoles.
The companies have been added to the growing list of HBO Max distribution deals, which already include AT&T, Apple, Charter, Google, Hulu and YouTube TV in offering HBO Max to their customers at launch. As of now, Comcast/Xfinity still hasn’t struck a deal, which may or mat not have something to do with the fact that they own NBCUniversal, which just launched their own streaming service, Peacock, through Xfinity cable subscriptions and will be expanding to users everywhere in July.
For all the details on the new HBO Max distribution deals, here’s the information from the official press release:
Altice USA has signed on to distribute HBO Max, giving all of its existing Optimum and Suddenlink HBO and HBO NOW subscribers immediate access to HBO Max and its expanded programming offering at launch. HBO Max will be available to these customers in addition to their existing HBO linear and on demand services and at no extra cost. Customers will be able to access HBO Max by downloading the app or accessing it on desktop and logging in using their Altice One, Optimum or Suddenlink credentials. Altice’s remaining and new customers will be able to purchase HBO Max directly from the company as part of a cable TV package, as an add-on to a video package, or as a standalone streaming service available to internet-only customers.
Verizon has signed on to distribute HBO Max to customers through its Fios TV and Fios Internet services. All of Verizon’s existing Fios customers who subscribe to HBO or HBO NOW will get immediate access to HBO Max at launch and at no extra cost. HBO Max will be available to these customers in addition to their existing HBO linear or streaming services. Those customers can use their Fios login credentials to access HBO Max either on supported devices through the app or via desktop. Verizon’s remaining and new Fios TV and Fios Internet customers will be able to purchase HBO Max directly from the company, as an add-on to video services or as a standalone streaming service available to internet-only customers.
Cox Communications, the largest private telecom provider in the U.S., will give all of Cox Contour’s existing HBO subscribers immediate access to HBO Max at launch and at no extra cost, in addition to their existing HBO linear and on demand services. Customers will be able to log into the HBO Max app on supported devices or access it on desktop and log in using their Cox account credentials. All remaining and new customers will be able to purchase HBO Max directly from Cox.
HBO Max will be made available at launch to independent cable and broadband operators – such as WOW!, Atlantic Broadband, RCN, Grande Communications & Wave, and MCTV, among others – through a new agreement with NCTC, on behalf of its 750 member companies throughout the U.S. and its territories. Existing HBO customers of the participating NCTC member companies will be given access to HBO Max at launch at no extra cost and new customers will be able to purchase HBO Max directly through their cable or broadband provider. The offering will then roll out more widely in the coming months, with additional member companies having the opportunity to provide the offering to their customers. For a full list of NCTC’s member companies, visit nctconline.org.
HBO Max will be available on PlayStation 4 systems at launch. PlayStation users in the U.S. who subscribe to HBO Max will be able to download the HBO Max app via the PlayStation Store and access its full programming slate directly through their consoles for a seamless viewing experience beginning May 27.
Users of Microsoft’s popular Xbox One gaming consoles in the U.S. who subscribe to HBO Max will be also able to access the platform at launch. The HBO Max app will be available on current Xbox One consoles and via the Microsoft Store on day one.
Finally, HBO Max will now be available through select Samsung TVs, bolstering the platform’s U.S. distribution to include a television manufacturer at launch. Owners of Samsung smart TVs – models from 2016 through 2020 – will be able to download and purchase HBO Max directly, offering another seamless viewing option for customers looking to access this best-in-class content experience.
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