Hulu Experiments With Enhanced Viewing

Hulu Experiments With Enhanced Viewing

If you’ve watched an episode of Modern Family, Saturday Night Live, or Scandal on Hulu recently you might have noticed some Pop Up Video-like tidbits appearing on the screen while the episode was playing.

Apparently Hulu is experimenting with a new feature they call ‘Enhanced Viewing’, which “…showcases quotes and memes that capture funny moments, pieces of trivia, and tweets from fans and actors alike that reflect the moment you just watched.” They can also be shared on Facebook, Twitter, or simply “Liked”.

Hulu Enhanced Viewing Feature

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Given that I’m the kind of TV nerd who follows showrunners, writers, and actors on Twitter and also buys TV on DVD for the special features and the episode commentary, the Enhanced Viewing feature is the kind of thing I find intriguing. But right now I’m not so much a fan of its execution.

While it can be simply turned off, just click on the video setting gear icon to disable the feature, I find it annoying to have the actual information displayed on the same screen as the episode I am watching.

Have you experience the Enhanced Viewing feature yet? What do you think about it? Are any of the extra tidbits worth the interruption?

Yes To Bonus Features – No To Distracting Pop-Ups

Although CBS isn’t typically associated with having an Internet savvy audience, CBS’s viewers are the oldest among the broadcast networks with a median age of 58.2, they’ve already introduced a similar feature to their own online video player. (If you hadn’t already noticed, CBS’s current content is not available on Hulu.com, which is realistically the only reason I even noticed.)

CBS Sync Sidebar

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Dubbed ‘CBS Sync’, it works much the same way that Hulu’s Enhanced Viewing feature works – by displaying behind the scenes information, trivia, polls, exclusive photos, video and more, all timed exactly to what’s happening. However, the CBS Sync feature is relegated to an easy-to-hide sidebar that updates with new tidbits without ever interfering with the episode.

Plus, if you do choose to click on one of these bonus things, the episode will automatically pause as a pop-up window appears. And when you close the CBS Sync window, the video will likewise automatically resume for a seamless viewing experience. Pretty nifty.

Besides being far less annoying, I also find the bonus content to be more interesting on CBS.com. For example, while watching an episode of CSI, evidence stills are displayed if you’d like to take a closer look and callbacks to older episodes and crime scenes are explained.

CBS Sync Pop Up

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Now of course I am comparing a long running crime drama to an episode of Modern Family, which is a bit unfair, but it still begs the question as to where Hulu.com is getting the bonus material from.

How much buy-in do they have to have from the broadcast networks / production companies? I have to imagine that CBS has the advantage of having easier access to this kind of stuff.

Bottom line, I’m all for enhancing the online viewing experience but I think Hulu.com could learn something from CSB.com when it comes to this specific kind of feature. And that is something I never thought I’d say.

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Written by Jamie Paton

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