Hulu Plus: A Tale of Two UIs

Earlier today I tweeted about Hulu’s abysmal UI for Xbox 360:

Right after that, they responded to my tweet (great Customer service, by the way),

and that prompted this blog post.

I love Hulu+, so much so that it was a major factor in me ‘unplugging’.  My wife and I have two TVs, and two distinct personalities when it comes to watching shows (although, admittedly I love Grey’s Anatomy). That means that most of the time I want to watch something different than she does.  She gets the PS3 for the living room, and I get the man cave and my Xbox360.  Hulu+ is on both, though the experience is radically different on each.

The PS3 version of Hulu+ is great, and there are very few changes I’d suggest for them. However the Hulu experience on Xbox 360 makes me want to throw things.  Maybe it’s a story best told with pictures.

First, the main screen:

The Hulu+ main screen (Xbox360)

The menu options are not helpful at all.  When I load Hulu+, I’m loading it to view shows that I’ve already Queued on the website. It would be extra helpful if my Queue were the first thing I’d see (since that’s what I’m most likely going for):

Hulu+ Queue (Xbox360)

The problem with the Queue screen on the Xbox 360 version is that it doesn’t have any coherence.  Random Glee episodes that I haven’t watched are next to random House Episodes, which are next to random Modern Family Episodes.

Randomness abounds. Hulu+ Queue(Xbox360)

Admittedly, all of these are in my queue, but does anyone really want to scroll through 188 items just to find what they’re looking for? (And keep in mind I have about 8 series in my queue, 3 of which are web-only so they shouldn’t even be available on the Xbox).

To put it simply, the queue doesn’t group the episodes by Show, as it does on the PS3 version:

Hulu+ Queue (PS3)

If I want to watch the next episode of Quantum Leap on Xbox 360 (many kudos to Hulu for picking that up), then I have to do the following (from the home screen): Find my history (PS, it’s below Featured so it’s not visible, instead of being near Queue.

Where’s my history? (Hulu+, Xbox360)
Ah, found it!


If I forget where it is, I have to cycle through the whole menu to find it), click on history, potentially search through 96 (!) items to find which show it belongs to, click on an episode from that show, and hope what I wanted to watch is in the same season, and click on it.

That took some doing.

Contrast that to the exceptionally easy to use PS3 version:

It doesn’t sort my queue by episode, but by show.

Click on queue. Everything is sorted by show, so I dont’ have 188 items (!). Click on the Show, and find the season, and click on the episode.  I’ve never needed to use the history tab on PS3, because the Queue is so well put together. On the Xbox 360, the Queue is virtually useless.  

You may object and say, “Well, if you click on an episode in your queue, it takes you to the same place that your history does”, and you’d be correct. But the behavior isn’t apparent. Look at the image: Does it give you a hint that it’d take you to the whole show, rather than just open the episode?:

Glee Episode

No, it doesn’t. Clicking on that makes me think I’m going to start that episode, which is what I don’t want.  

Hulu+ could improve their Xbox360 design by categorizing things like they do for their PS3 team. A Queue should show the ‘shows’ I have queued, not the individual episodes randomly mashed together.


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