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Pluto.TV is the best cord-cutting app you're not using

Jared Newman | July 10, 2015
If the cable box has one redeeming quality, it's the ability to flip on the TV and start watching something. No disrespect to streaming apps like Netflix and Hulu, but sometimes finding the perfect video feels like too much effort.

Hulu's compromises

Pluto's arrangement with Hulu does come with some compromises to this setup. The biggest restriction is that Hulu content only appears on the web and PC versions. Even if you have an $8-per-month premium Hulu subscription, there's no way to watch Hulu's Pluto channels on phones, tablets, and televisions.

Hulu also messes with Pluto.TV's format and features in a couple of ways. Instead of round-the-clock linear programming, Hulu channels are basically just playlists that you can access at any time. This is preferable in a way, as you're never stuck watching a show from the halfway point, but it also detracts from the feeling of craftsmanship that you get from Pluto's other channels.

Even worse, you can't tell which episodes are playing just by scrolling through the channel guide. Unlike every other channel, the episode lineups for Hulu channels are hidden until you click on them. Doing so stops whatever video you're playing and launches the Hulu video, usually starting with an advertisement. Again, this tarnishes the channel-surfing experience that Pluto.TV is trying to provide. (My mind returns to last week's column on Hulu's questionable motivations in the online video world.)

In fairness, I don't know whether Hulu demanded these changes or if they Pluto.TV editorial decisions; either way, I'm hoping Pluto doesn't shake up its format too much. The online video space is already stuffed with on-demand formats, and it almost seems like Hulu is pulling Pluto.TV back in that direction.

That's not to say Pluto.TV shouldn't pursue more premium, full-length video. But by easing up on the curation and linear programming, Pluto loses its best quality, which is the ability to surprise you with things you didn't even know you wanted.

 

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