Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Hulu Works


Hulu's Subscriber Experience

Without creating a Hulu.com user account, you can view videos and use the tabs below the video player to read reviews and discussions posted by other Hulu users. To post your own feedback, and to use other interactive features, simply click the "Sign Up" button and create an account.

Once you've signed in, you can contribute your own reviews and discussion threads, and you can rate videos using a five-star rating tool. The most useful account features, however, are the subscriptions and queue. When you want to follow a TV series, you can subscribe to that series using links in the Popular Shows listing or the main page for the series. Then, when a new episode of the series premieres on Hulu, it's added to your queue. You can also add any single video to your queue using the linked "+" sign next to its listing while you are browsing.

Your queue link at the top of the page indicates the number of items in it at any particular time, and you can click this link to jump to the queue and subscriptions included in your Hulu user profile. From there, you can change the play order, remove videos and manage your subscriptions. If you play a video from your queue, Hulu automatically follows it with the next video listed there.

If you have other friends that use Hulu.com, you can use Hulu's other social networking features. Use the Friends tab when editing your profile to find friends, manage your list of friends, and see what your friends are watching. You can even connect your Hulu account to social networks like Facebook and MySpace. Likewise, if you're connected to friends and you want to keep them from seeing some of your queued videos, go back to your queue and subscriptions tab to select videos and choose "Make Selected Private" from the "More Actions" list.

Even if you don't check Hulu.com every day, you can monitor your queue by signing up to receive regular emails when a subscription adds new videos. Beyond the queue, you can also monitor new additions to Hulu's content and its latest service announcements by following the Hulu Blog or by adding the Hulu RSS feed. The links at the bottom of the page include the blog, RSS feed and widgets for third-party tools such as iGoogle and the HD Gallery that we'll describe in a later section.

On the next page, we'll explore Hulu's video viewing options.


More to Explore