In response to the flood of complaints over past weeks, Hulu is has decided to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to contrition.
In April of this year, video streaming service Hulu was placed in the care of subsidiary HJ Holdings to handle operations in Japan. Despite this, it was more or less business as usual for the brand for a few months: they changed their url from hulu.jp to the quirky happyon.jp, but that was about it.
However, a larger change came on 17 May in the form of a major overhaul of their apps. In some cases an entirely new app needed to be downloaded and installed on certain devices. Really it was a minor inconvenience, but also only the tip of the iceberg for what was to come.
Right away complaints were lodged with the new service. Many complained of “videos stopping halfway through,” or “severe lagging,” while some found that their older generation Chromecast or FireTV Sticks were no longer compatible.
What stuck in most customers’ craws was the inclusion of High-bandwidth Digital Content Prodection (HDCP). While designed to prevent unauthorized copying or viewing of downloaded video, it also has the nasty side-effect of screwing over unfortunate souls whose televisions, game consoles, or other devices weren’t equipped with HDCP to begin with, thus making Hulu completely unusable.
▼ The new Hulu app currently has an abysmal rating on iTunes.
Obviously not blind to the feedback, Hulu has now announced that they will give all customers – even those who only signed up for the free trial or those who have quit the service – one month of free service valued at 1,007 yen (US$9).
Of course for those who have quit because they are unable to use Hulu any more, one month of free service may not sound like much compensation. So Hulu will also offer a roughly equivalent 1,000 yen Amazon Gift Certificate or iTunes Code.
Again this applies to everyone who was receiving Hulu service in Japan between 12:01 am on 17 May and 11:59 on 31 May regardless of whether they have quit or were only a free trial member during this time.
Hulu says they will contact those who have canceled their subscriptions in mid-June with news and information about the compensation. Everyone else may need to register their account email on a special page that will be set up in mid-July to be eligible for it. Updated information will be posted on Hulu’s website and social media pages and also sent to registered emails.
The payments are expected to be made in early August.
Hulu certainly can’t be accused of going overboard in their reaction given the recent appearance of Netflix on Japan’s cyber shores, but how much of the damage this will undo remains to be seen. Comments on the matter seem less than optimistic.
“I guess they must have had a lot of cancellations… myself included.”
“Unless the fundamental problems have been resolved, I don’t think a free month will fix anything.”
“All they had to do was transition the servers gradually rather than all at once.”
“Is this the end for Hulu? I support efforts to protect rights holders, but it’s useless if it isn’t managed properly.”
Personally, I didn’t have any problems with the big switch-over, but as soon as I heard news of these freebies I found myself growing increasingly dissatisfied and downright steamed with my quality of Hulu service. Luckily, it’s nothing a few credits to my iTunes account won’t heal.