Hulu Plus Just Made Apple TV a Million Times Better

Hulu Plus is on Apple TV now. Hulu just confirmed to us and in an official blog post that its streaming service is now available on Apple's set-top box. It's actually a pretty big deal.

Hulu appearing on Apple TV is a major concession from Apple. To this point, it had blocked other content providers, like Hulu and Amazon Prime, from appearing on its platform. The TV race has gotten tighter in the past few weeks, though, with cheaper alternative Roku being bought up by Newscorp—a major content creator and distributer.

Now it's added Hulu Plus, which like Netflix, is a premium service that offers TV shows and movies. Its selection of TV shows is generally more robust than Netflix's, and for movies, it has the entire freaking Criterion collection.

Until now, the only TV and movie content available on Apple TV had been available through either the iTunes store or Netflix. Meanwhile, competitors like Roku and the Xbox 360 had additional services, like Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus. That meant Apple TV users missed out on stuff like Hulu's Criterion collection and Amazon Prime getting, say, The West Wing. Apple TV does have sports packages and apps like YouTube, but for actual TV shows and movies, this is like an overnight transcontinental railroad.

The other, more cynical explanation, pointed out by AllThingsD's Peter Kafka? With Mountain Lion's new ability to stream your computer's display to an Apple TV, you already have Hulu Plus on your TV. So Apple forced Hulu's hand somewhat. And as 9to5mac's Mark Gurman points out, the app has actually been ready for a year, so something had to give.

More than a softening of Apple's plans for an brushed-iron-fisted future of content, this could also be the start of an opening up of the Apple TV platform. Apple TV might not be content poor, but it's decidedly content middle class, compared to its competitors. We've assumed for a while now that third party apps were coming, and hopefully Hulu is the tip of that sword.

There had been reports that Apple would release the Apple TV SDK (software development kit) for its rumored Apple HDTV at WWDC earlier this year, but it always seemed strange that Apple would announce software development for a product it hadn't actually announced. Clearly though, there is development going on for at least the current set-top box. We'll see if that carries over to an actual Apple Television any time soon. [Engadget]


Here's Hulu's introduction to the Apple TV app.