Hulu player gets updated, improved; HTML5 still a no-go, sorry iPad owners

Hulu has been busy trying to make its player more compelling and its advertising better targeted to viewers, but the long rumored iPad player looks dead in the water, at least for now. Hulu VP of product Eugene Wei says HTML just isn't ready for primetime as far as Hulu is concerned, because it doesn't yet meet all of its customer's-or Hulu's needs-like content security, reporting for advertisers, video rendering using a high performance codec to ensure premium visual quality, communicate back with the server to determine how long to buffer and what bitrate to stream, and "dozens of other things that aren't necessarily visible to the end user."

"Not all video sites have these needs," Wei writes, "but for our business these are all important and often contractual requirements."

Wei didn't close the door completely on working more with HTML5, or on eventually building an iPad-friendly player, saying future iterations of the Hulu player may be better able to implement HTML5 advances.

As to the new player, Hulu says its upgrade will take better advantage of adaptive bitrate streaming for a smoother viewing experience, which, for Hulu should mean fewer lost views because of annoying buffering issues. The ABS can be turned on and off by viewers if they choose to select a fixed resolution of 288p, 360p or 480p instead.

Hulu's also normalized ad volume, so you won't notice as much a difference between your replay of Lost and the commercials that accompany it.

Hulu also has upped the size of the player by 25 percent, made the controls and timeline invisible, unless you mouse over them, for a cleaner look and just noodled with the design in an effort to make the player more appealing and functional (you can see all the player details here).

Hulu also has made some major adjustments to its advertising offerings, giving users the ability to fine-tune their own ad experience with a button on the player that asks users if an ad is relevant to them. The "Ad Tailor" allows both immediate feedback from users with the "yes/no" relevance feature, but goes a step beyond by occasionally asking viewers to participate in one-question surveys, asking, for example, "How interested are you in learning about new cars or trucks?"

The process, as Wei writes, helps users "see more relevant ads, and advertisers reach a more targeted and receptive audience."

Hulu's also refreshing its homepage as a result of user feedback.

For more:
- see the Hulu blog post here
- see this PCMag.com post

Related articles:
Report: Subscription Hulu online video service rolls out, finally
Hulu scores deal with the NFL Network for online video
Rumor: Hulu's working to become iPad friendly

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