Hulu Queue Management Design Problems

I have Hulu on Apple TV and Roku devices, and I really struggle to understand why each experience is so uniquely flawed. I think the developers are so focused on surfacing their content in immersive ways that they haven’t actually asked anyone that uses it in the real world for their experiences. So, here is my feedback (Hulu dev team, hope you are listening).

For those not familiar with Hulu concepts, the basics are this. Hulu’s special niche is their availability of current season TV shows from most major networks. Often, the number of episodes is limited to the most recent five or so. Hulu has a queue, which you can add to, to keep track of shows you want to watch. They also have a favorites feature that has the handy behavior of automatically adding new episodes of a show to your queue.

The queue management features sound good. But here are the issues…

On Apple TV and Roku, there is no way to know when a show is about to expire.

We add interesting new shows to our favorites to keep track of them.  It might be a while before we think to try it out, only to find that the first one or two episodes are no longer available. Bye, bye, show. Hulu, you need provide a way to view the queue by those expiring soon.

On Apple TV there is no way to remove all queued episodes of a show.

Why, oh why, does Hulu on Apple TV not provide a way to remove all queued episodes of a show at once? Also, after selecting the queued episodes for a show, selecting one and removing it, then hitting the back button to select the next one, results in the false statement “There are no more episodes in your queue”. Is Hulu intentionally trying to stop us from queue deletion? Thank goodness the Roku experience includes a delete all feature. And the website does too, but the website experience must have been designed by a back-room developer, because while technically, the queue management is perfect, the user experience is rather un-intuitive.

On Roku, there is no way to see how many episodes of a show are in the queue (unless you go into each one individually)

At least on Apple TV, the shows listed in the queue include badges that show many episodes are queued, so users can quickly scan to find those with the most episodes and watch them them in case they’re getting close to expiring. On Roku, no such luck — you have to select each show individually to find out how many episodes are queued.  Hulu, this just irritates your customers. Nobody likes missing shows.

Dozens (or in the case of Parks and Recreation, 100s) of show clips get automatically added to the queue.

The Favorites features automatically adds show clips to the queue. Why is this useful? If I’m watching a show already, why do I also want to watch clips of it. At least give me an option to turn this off. When clips are being added, it makes it impossible to keep track of the episode count of shows, which as described previously is needed to avoid missing expiring shows. Some shows, like Parks and Recreation actually added over 200 clips in the space of a few months. At that point, our family gave up on the show (at least for a while), because Hulu drove us away from it with their usability engineering faux pas.


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