It was the fall of 2007, I was entering the last year of a graduate program and, as students often do, I was living frugally to say the least.  Up until that point I had been living in a fool’s paradise, gobbling up all the free cable (included in rent) and free internet (a neighbor let me use hers via Wi-Fi) I possibly could, and then the bad news came; the long-time owners of my apartment building were selling, and my neighbor was moving.  I suspected these events meant no more free cable and no free Wi-Fi, and I was right.  How was I, a starving student forced to cut back work hours so I could complete my internship, going to get by?

After cutting some luxuries like Netflix, and Rhapsody (both services I missed terribly and am glad to say I subscribe to again) and deciding that Top Ramen Tuesday was actually a fun idea, I was able to get myself DSL.  There was no way I could afford cable.  What was I going to do?

I limped along for a couple of months, watching video clips online and torrenting some of my favorite TV shows (at the slow DSL speed I was getting files took their time to download); then, a friend sent me an invitation to a private beta and my love affair with HULU was begun.

HULU is well known to those of us who live on the net as an excellent means of getting our fix of new and classic TV content for free.  It couldn’t be any easier, visit the HULU website, click on content, or use the search box to find what you want and then watch away.  If you have one of the many recent notebook computers with an HDMI output you can even hook up to your TV, using it as a second screen, and watch while you browse the web; if you are like my parents and have a massive 27” LCD monitor, then pull up a chair and watch that way. 

Not every episode of every program is available on HULU, but there is a great deal of free content.  Additionally there is HULU Plus, a subscription based service that allows one to access more content on more devices, for instance I have access on both my iPhone 5s and Apple TV; the service is available on a myriad of devices, from Blu-ray players, to gaming consoles to other streaming boxes.

HULU Plus content is beefed up considerably from the free version, one will frequently find more episodes of popular series, and a whole catalog of classic series that’s unavailable without subscription; in fact HULU Plus gave me the chance to watch Return to the Planet of the Apes, an animated series I missed out on when I was a kid and had always wanted to see. 

Much like Netflix, HULU has branched out and is producing its own original content, like the funny (well not to me but my brother thinks it is hilarious) old-west comedy Quick Draw.

If you are unable or unwilling to pay for cable, if you are a cord cutter, or if you simply want a different way to access content, then consider giving HULU a try, it’s free.  If you have a smart TV that has HULU Plus, Apple TV, Roku, an iOS device or any number of Android phones or tablets, check out HULU Plus; for $7.95 monthly you get increased content and decreased advertising, both are worth the additional cost.

– John Morton