Best VPNs for Hulu

HuluHulu is an American online company that is partially ad supported that distributes TV shows, media clips, feature films, and other streaming media.  Second only to Netflix in name recognition, Hulu is a steaming media service that was only available in the US but has recently been made available in Japan.  Hulu’s content is geo-blocked from every country but the country the service is distributed in.  This means, if you do not live in the US and try to watch Hulu , you will receive a message like this “Sorry, currently our video library can only be watched from within the United States.”  The best way to overcome this limitation is to use a personal VPN service.  Below you will see our choice of the best VPNs for streaming Hulu content.

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A Brief History of Hulu

Hulu began as a concept without content in 2007.  In late 2007 they started beta testing and distribution of content through their partners which included AOL, Comcast, MSN, MySpace and Yahoo.  They launched publicly (with all free content) in the US on March 12, 2008.  In May of 2008 they launched their subscription service.  This allowed users to subscribe to shows they wanted to watch and then queued that show’s available episodes.  This gave users easier access to all the episodes of their favorite shows when they logged in.

Originally, Hulu content was only available from the browser of your PC or Mac.  If you wanted to watch it on your TV, you had to connect it to the video and audio of the computer with cables.  The exception to this was Boxee Box, but support for this was later discontinued at the request of their content providers.  This meant that if users wanted to see high quality videos of most content easily on their large TVs, they needed to subscribe to the traditional cable providers which was the supposed intention by those who wanted support for Boxee Box to be dropped.

In June of 2010 they introduced in preview their first ad-supported subscription service which they called Hulu Plus.  For the first time, subscribers had access to full seasons of current programs.  They also had access to complete seasons of some TVs most popular shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lost, The X-Files, Law and Order: SVU, Arrested Development, Ally McBeal, Roswell, Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, and five seasons of Saturday Night Live.  Not only this, Hulu Plus customers gained support for Internet-connected Samsung TVs and Blu-ray players in HD (720p), as well as, Wi-Fi or 3G connected iPads, iPhones, and iTouches.  This let Hulu Plus users access HD streaming media at home on their large screen TVs as well as watch content in places where a TV was not available for the preview price of just $9.99 per month.

Support for more devices like Sony TV and gaming systems like the PS3 soon followed along with more content like Raising Hope, No Ordinary Family, The Event, Monk, Psych, and Battlestar Galactica.  In November of 2010 Hulu Plus was launched at the non-preview price of $7.99 with full current season access to Glee, Modern Family, The Office, House, 30 Rock, and many others.  Plus users were exposed to half the ads they would normally have been exposed to with streaming access across computers, TVs, mobile phones, and tablets.  In 2011 through customer interaction, Hulu determined that consumers wanted less ads, more convenient access, and greater control over the content available to them.  Since that time much of their effort has been towards realizing these goals.  Over the years (from 2011-today), they have continued to add more videos to their library of content and find ways to make it easier for users to watch.

Simultaneously, the have increased the variety and number of devices that stream it.  The devices it can now be streamed on include:

  • Gaming systems:  PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PS Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii/Wii U
  • Set Top Boxes:  Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Nexus Player, Fire TV, TiVo, Netbox, Dash
  • Mobile devices:  iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android phones and tablets, Windows 8 Phone, Kindle Fire, Fire Phone, Nook tablet, Nook HD,
  • Smart TVs and Blu-rays:  Samsung TVs/Blu-rays, Sony TVs/Blu-rays, LG TVs/Blu-rays, ’09+ BRAVIA TVs, ’09+ BRAVIA Blu-ray Players
  • Operating systems:  Windows XP SP2 and above, Mac OS X 10.5 and above, Linus
  • Browsers:  IE 10 and above, Foxfire 15 and above, Safari 5 and above, and Chrome

As you can see the Hulu service can be streamed on most types on modern internet-connected devices.  You should not have a problem finding a device to view its content on.  They have even announced a VR platform and content that will soon be made available.  In September of 2015 they announced their new $11.99 per month commercial-free service.  Although most content under this subscription is totally free of commercials, some titles will still have a pre-play 15 second ad and a 30 second post-play ad for licensing reasons.

Original Programming and Current Content from Hulu

In 2011 Hulu produced their first original series If I Can Dream.  The web series was about a small group of gifted, aspiring 20 somethings who moved into a house in Hollywood California together.  The house was wired with cameras and the series followed the roommates as each pursued their dreams in their chosen field, entertainment, sports or fashion.   The show lasted one season and was not renewed.

The Morning After was a news format show whose hosts looked at the previous nights events in pop culture from TV shows and news and presented then in a humorous way to bring Hulu users up to speed on a few hours of events in just a few minutes.  The show garnered some acclaim and was named an honoree from the Webbys in 2012 in the variety section of its online videos.   It ran for three seasons, from 2011-2014.  It occasionally shows specials from its archives.  Other original content in 2011 included A Day In the Life (2 seasons), The Confession (1 season), and The Fashion Fund (1 season).  Each of these received overall positive critical reviews for their fresh content.

Hulu has continued to make new original content.  Current original works include: the true to life teen drama, East Los High; The Emmy-nominated, Behind the Mask about sports mascots; the family comedy, Casual; the comedy, The Mindy Project about the life of an OB/GYN; Seth Meyers’ favorite superheroes,The Awesomes; The comedy action-adventure, The Wrong Mans; the imaginary buddy comedy, Moone Boy; The Way, a drama series starring Aaron Paul and Michelle Monaghan from Jason Katims; and the comedy about two New York friend’s irreverent behavior, Difficult People.  They also have a new project by J.J. Abrams starring James Franco called 11/22/63, a drama based on Stephen King’s novel about the JFK assassination and how things would be different if it did not happen scheduled for 2016 release.  A project from Freddie Wong and the RocketJump team is also in the works.

In addition to all of its original programming, Hulu has acquired the exclusive subscription video on-demand (SVOD) rights to all of the episodes of one of the most popular sitcoms of all time, Seinfeld.  Hulu has a partnership with Viacom which gives them exclusive SVOD to past seasons and future seasons of certain popular titles from Comedy Central including the Emmy winning comedy series Inside Amy Schumer, Broad City, Drunk History and Key & Peele, as well as MTV hits Faking It, and Finding Carter.  It also gives them exclusive SVOD to Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Rabbids Invasion, Sanjay and Craig, Breadwinners, Bella and the Bulldogs, and The Thundermans.  Hulu also has the SVOD rights to the animated comedy South Park which it got in a deal with South Park Studios.  They also get next day broadcast rights to The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.  Hulu also has exclusive SVOD rights to FOX’s breakout hit series Empire, CSI, Brooklyn Nine Nine, The Goldbergs, The Last Man On Earth, Nashville, Deadliest Catch, The Last Ship, and many more titles.  This is just a small sampling of the shows that you can only see through the Hulu service.

Hulu and the premium entertainment network EPIX have closed a multi-year digital SVOD deal that will bring new releases from Lionsgate, MGM, and Paramount to Hulu starting in October 2015.  This means none of this content will be available on Netflix in the future. Feature films available on Hulu as a result of this deal include:  Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Star Trek: Into Darkness, World War Z, Wolf of Wall Street, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Robocop, and God’s Not Dead.  Comedies like Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, Anchorman 2, and Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas can now be seen exclusively on Hulu.  EPIX franchises like James Bond, Rocky, Star Trek, Paranormal ActivityBeverly Hills Cop, and Friday the Thirteenth will now be available for streaming on Hulu.

What Is a VPN and How Can You Use It To Access Hulu?

A VPN is a network of computers that is connected using various tunneling protocols and encryption algorithms in such a way that private and confidential data can be transmitted over a public network without worry.  These have existed in the business world for quite some time. This allows for the secure transfer of information between computers in the network, across a public network.   A personal VPN service operates in a similar manner.  First, the service creates a secure tunnel between one of its servers and your device.  Once this tunnel has been established, it encrypts all traffic sent between the VPN server and your device.  The service then hides your public IP address and replaces it with one at the location of its server.  All transactions are then passed from the VPN server to the open Internet.  This means that no one on the Internet sees your true location.  Instead, they see the spoofed location provided by the VPN service.  This not only allows you to be more anonymous but also lets you virtually change your location to anyplace in the world that the service has VPN servers.

So, you want to watch Hulu outside of the United States.  The Hulu video library is geo-blocked in other countries.   A personal VPN service can mask your location and assign you an IP address from the US so Hulu will think you are located there.  Once Hulu sees you in the US, the content will be unblocked and if you have a paid subscription, you will have access to all of the videos in its library.  You will be able to binge watch all of your favorite Hulu videos including all episodes of Seinfeld and South Park, The James Bond franchise, and beginning in 2016 11/22/63 the drama that looks at what the world would be like if JFK had not been assassinated.  What is more, as long as your location has Internet access, you can watch all of these on demand videos from anywhere.  The Hulu library in the US has over 10,000 titles and growing which includes feature films, contemporary videos from Criterion, Fox comedy specials, thought provoking documentaries, and many other titles.  Additionally, even those in the US can benefit by having a VPN service because it will allow them to access their Hulu service while they are traveling and keep all of their personal information safe.

How to Choose the Best VPN to Watch Hulu

  • One question to ask when choosing a VPN to stream movies from HULU is does it have multiple servers in the US.  A worldwide server presence is also preferable.
  • How easy do they make it to stream media?  Do they have a way to stream Hulu and other services like the JetSwitch feature from Overplay.  JetSwitch also lets you watch content from different regions simultaneously.
  • Speed is a primary consideration as the encryption used by the VPN can slow your connection down.  This effect is more noticeable with some lesser VPNs.  Be sure to test the VPN service to see that its streaming speed is acceptable to you.
  • Does it support at least the three most common protocols: OpenVPN, L2TP, and PPTP.  PPTP usually has the lowest encryption strength and may provide a speed boost if privacy is not an issue when watching Hulu videos.  L2TP will probably be much slower.  OpenVPN (UDP) will provide you with a best mix of privacy and speed.
  • Reliability is also important when choosing a VPN for streaming Hulu.  Frequently dropped connections can ruin your viewing pleasure.
  • Another thing to look at is does it support the devices that you want to watch content on. Can it be setup on desktops, mobile devices, set top boxes, smart TVs, or other devices that you need it to support?  How easy is the VPN service to setup and use?  Does it support routers?  Remember, once you set up the router to use the VPN, all the devices attached to it can stream Hulu videos.
  • The last thing to look at is the extra features that the VPN service provides.  Does it have a kill switch to auto-disconnect it from the Internet if the VPN drops like IPVanish, VyprVPN and others?  Does it have a NAT firewall to protect you from malicious software while you are using the service?  Do they have more specialized protocols like stealth to help scale firewalls like VyprVPN and StrongVPN.  Does it support port forwarding and multiple encryption strengths to help to optimize it like IPVanish and others in our list?  Does it have a a SmartDNS so you can stream without speed loss due to encryption like Overplay offers?

Final Thoughts

Hulu is one of the major distributors of subscription video on demand streaming media.  Its content is geo-resticted to all countries but the US due to various agreements they have with various content distributors.  Hulu has many agreements with distributors like Viacom, South Park Studios, ABC, TNT, FX, EPIX, and others which give it exclusive SVOD rights to their content.  This means that the only place you can see these popular show like Lost, Seinfeld, the James Bond franchise and others is through their service.  Additionally, these same agreements give Hulu the fastest access to many popular current programs as well.  They have the latest season of many of these shows as a result of these agreements.

We have looked at some of the things that you should consider when making your choice of a VPN service for streaming Hulu videos.  For instance, Overplay’s JetSwitch tops our list because it allows you to easily switch between many different services, as well as, simultaneously access streaming media from different regions.  It supports SmartDNS so you can stream Hulu without encryption enabled for maximum speed.  IPVanish supports multiple encryption strengths and port forwarding which hides your traffic from your Internet Service Provider (ISP).  If you P2P, this can keep them from throttling your Internet connection.  IPVanish also has a NAT firewall to protect your computer from malicious software.  StrongVPN and VyprVPN can help bypass firewalls more easily with obfuscation software to keep them from detecting traffic as coming from a VPN service.  In addition VyprVPN has a kill switch and and Network Address Translation firewall to protect you from malware and malicious bots.  All of our chosen VPNs have a good industry reputation, fast speed, excellent reliability, support for a variety of devices, and great support.

When choosing a VPN to stream Hulu, speed and reliability are key considerations.  A faster and more reliable VPN service will ensure that all your feature films, documentaries, syndicated TV series, and original content from Hulu can be streamed without any glitches or interruptions to take away from your viewing pleasure.  No one wants to be bothered with video problems while trying to watch their favorite movie.  Additionally, if your primary reason for using a VPN is streaming Hulu videos, then you should probably use lesser encryption strength to improve performance.  Also you should choose a VPN with support for many devices including routers.  Connecting the VPN through your router will let you stream Hulu from all the devices you have connected to it.   As we have seen, all of the VPNs in our list satisfy most if not all of these metrics, plus most include extra useful features to enhance their service.  Additionally, all have guarantees.  This means you can test them without risk.  Sign up for the one and test it for yourself.