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Why Doesn’t Hulu Support 4K & Dolby Atmos?

Q. I finally upgraded my Home Theater with a Denon-AVR-x4400h receiver and Vizio P65-E1 TV. Both are awesome! Then I find out Hulu only streams in two-channel stereo. What gives? When will Hulu enter the 21st Century and stream 4K, Dolby Digital and Dolby Atmos? — Will, Northern Virginia.

Will, I’ll take 4K first.

Update: Hulu Adds Dolby Digital 5.1. 

Hulu has shown no indication that it will support 4K programming, unlike its rivals Netflix and Amazon Prime. Hulu added some titles in 4K in 2016 (mostly James Bond films), but completely dropped them in early 2018 without explanation. Netflix and Amazon offer dozens of 4K titles but Hulu doesn’t have a single one. In 2019, when more and more people are buying 4K TVs, that’s unacceptable.

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Now as to the sound issue.

Hulu says the majority of its streaming lineup (and live TV programming) automatically streams audio in 2.0 stereo quality, as you note. But it adds that some devices can play select titles (mostly Hulu original shows) in High-Definition 5.1 surround sound. The devices are:

Chromecast
XBox One
Fire TV (3rd Generation and Cube) and Fire TV 4K stick
LG TV (WebOS 3.0 and above)
Nintendo Switch
PlayStation 4

(Will, take note that your Vizio is not on the list.)

To enable Surround Sound on these devices, you’ll need to select a 5.1 compatible option from the audio output settings.

Despite this limited offering, I agree with your assessment that Hulu is woefully behind Netflix and Amazon in supporting new video and audio technologies. (There is no Dolby Atmos at all.) Unfortunately, I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Hulu seems focused on driving subscriber growth by expanding its programming lineup, and offering occasional price discounts.

That’s where it’s putting its money, not in new consumer technology.

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Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at swann@tvpredictions.com. Please include your first name and hometown in your message.

— Phillip Swann

About TV Answer Man (1735 Articles)
The TV Answer Man is veteran journalist Phillip Swann who has covered the TV technology scene for more than two decades. He will report on the latest news and answer your questions regarding new devices and services that are changing the way you watch television.

1 Comment on Why Doesn’t Hulu Support 4K & Dolby Atmos?

  1. Interesting that they leave off the most capable and expensive 4K streaming devices – like the Apple TV 4K, and the Nvidia Shield (unless the Shield Android TV qualifies as a Chromecast device).

    I understand that the Xbox One (Especially the One X) is more powerful and expensive than those two $150-$200 streaming devices, but I brought those up because they are top of their product category, and are almost exclusively designed for streaming video.

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