Q. I watch 4K on Netflix, but I also have Hulu. How can I watch 4K on Hulu, or can you? I know you can watch it on Amazon, but what about Hulu? — Hank, Toledo, Ohio.
Hank, Hulu says it offers most of its original programming in 4K on select devices, including shows such as The Handmaid’s Tale, Harlots (pictured above), Catch-22, and Castle Rock.
But I have a problem with that.
I did a search for 4K shows on Hulu using two supported devices — an LG OLED TV and a Roku Ultra streaming device — and nothing comes up. Nothing. There appears to be no way to get a list of 4K titles available on Hulu. Even worse, if you click on an episode that’s supposed to be in 4K, such as Castle Rock, there’s no reference to 4K in the episode information.
Consequently, you have to take Hulu at its word and assume the show is in 4K when you watch it. (I did watch several minutes of Castle Rock, and it could be in 4K, although the picture quality is not as good as 4K on its streaming rivals, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.)
I’m not the only one perplexed by the lack of 4K transparency here. A Twitter user, @danbo_4 , recently asked Hulu’s Twitter support team for a list of 4K titles. The response? No response at all. (Digital Trends also apparently came up empty-handed when it asked Hulu for a list of 4K titles.)
Another Twitter user, @PlayingNicely3 , also has had issues with Hulu’s 4K streaming, or lack there of:
“Hulu isn’t transparent about video quality; Hulu doesn’t say if things are streaming in HD (even 720p) or not; it just says “best available” — clearly Hulu is trying to hide the fact that it doesn’t stream in full HD (1080p) or 4K. This is flat-out consumer abuse,” he tweeted.
Hulu’s Twitter support team responded:
“Apologies for any frustration! Quality will automatically adjust based on your available bandwidth, the content you’re watching, and the device you’re using to stream. We’ll be sure to share your feedback with our team!”
Hulu seems to be suggesting that a Hulu user may not actually see a show in 4K if his or her Internet service is slow; the picture quality will automatically reduce to HD or even SD. (I tested my Internet speed when I tried to watch Hulu in 4K and it was 89 Mbps, which is more than enough for any 4K picture. I also tested a 4K title on Netflix and it displayed in 4K.)
This is concerning because Hulu introduced a small number of 4K titles in 2016, but then removed them a few years ago without any announcement. Hulu last year announced that it was bringing 4K back, but where is it? Where is it, really? How do we know it’s really there?
Bottom line: I think Hulu is streaming in 4K, but I do wish it would offer a list of shows that are in 4K as well as include a 4K reference in episode details. That would go a long way to making this viewer feel more confident about its intentions. 4K TV is already complicated enough, but Hulu has managed to make it even more complicated.
And, Hank, if you choose to believe Hulu is offering 4K, here are the devices the service says you need to watch it:
Apple TV (5th generation or later)
Fire TV and Fire TV Stick
LG TVs (2017-2018 UHD models)
Roku and Roku Stick (3810X, 3920X, 4400X and 46*0X models)
Vizio SmartCast TVs
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— Phillip Swann