It appears that Apple has had a Hulu Plus app for the Apple TV cooking in Cupertino for over a month, and the app is running on prototype Apple TV units inside Apple’s headquarters.
According to 9to5Mac’s sources, a Hulu Plus app is “ready to roll out” to current Apple TV users right now. Apple hasn’t pulled the trigger yet due to “political” reasons, like the fact that Hulu Plus directly competes with the TV section of iTunes.
While there are no technical issues standing in the way of the Hulu Plus release on Apple TV, there appear to be some political ones. At some level at Apple, there appears to be some consideration that the Hulu Plus app could eat into iTunes TV sales on the Apple TV. Where Netflix tends to run older programming, iTunes is the Apple TV’s only outlet for current TV programming.
So, there’s a Hulu Plus app in the works for the Apple TV, yet Apple obviously considers the service as a threat to iTunes. While it’s true that both iTunes and Hulu Plus offer current TV episodes, the $7.99/month Hulu Plus service is based on a subscription streaming model and iTunes is download only. Netflix doesn’t really play into the equation, as it mainly focuses on movie titles and cataloging older TV seasons to watch in bulk.
Whenever you get involved with Hollywood, there’s always a lot of red tape. That rule is no exception with Hulu. Currently, the Hulu iOS app can’t stream content to the Apple TV via AirPlay. The Hulu Plus iPad app can play video via HDMI on a HDTV, but only in standard definition.
There were rumors months ago that Apple was actually considering buying Hulu, but the deal reportedly never even got past initial talk between the two companies. Google was allegedly also interested in Hulu at one point.
Hulu Plus is available on select set-top boxes, like the Roku. Apple implementing the service into the Apple TV would be a huge win for customers.
There’s also the chance that Apple will introduce a video streaming subscription service in iTunes, or even an iOS app to compete with cable providers. There are many factors at play, but hopefully Hulu will make its way to the Apple TV sooner rather than later.