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Why Hulu (No Ads) Subscribers Still See Ads

Even if paying for the ad-free upgrade, there are still times when commercials might be shown on Hulu.

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Hulu (No Ads) subscribers might still see ads for a number of reasons, including excluded content and episodes and movies provided by third-party services. This is something to be aware of before signing up to Hulu as, although the majority of content is provided ad-free, there are still times when those paying for the ‘no ads’ experience won’t be able to escape the commercials.

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Hulu offers different plan options. At the most fundamental level there’s the ad-supported and ad-free plans. Those subscribing to basic Hulu pay $5.99 per month for the ‘with ads’ version while those wanting a commercial-free experience pay $11.99 per month. Providing both options allows Hulu to offer consumers a plan that best suits their individual needs and budgets.

Besides basic Hulu, there’s also the Hulu plus Live TV service. This differs from the standard version of Hulu through the addition of access to live TV channels. The standard Hulu Live TV plan costs $64.99 per month, but subscribers can also pay $70.99 per month for the Hulu (No Ads) + Live TV plan. Whether subscribing to basic Hulu or the live TV package without ads, subscribers might still be shown commercials.

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Hulu ads shown during excluded content

One of the most basic reasons why Hulu subscribers will see ads when paying for an ad-free plan is excluded content. Essentially, not all show episodes and movies are delivered ad-free. While the majority will be, there are some that Hulu simply cannot offer without ads. This is almost always the result of streaming rights.

Although Hulu does not have the streaming rights to serve these videos without ads, the service does look to ensure it is a limited ad experience for No Ads customers. For example, a short ad break might be shown before and after a show episode, but not during.

Furthermore, the list of shows and movies that fall under the excluded content will vary over time.

Hulu ads shown during on demand content

Generally speaking, the on demand catalog should not include any ads for those subscribing to the basic Hulu No Ads plan. The exception being any videos that fall under the ‘excluded content’ rule. However, subscribers to Live TV with No Ads might find they are encountering ads during some on demand content.

This is simply the result of the live TV subscription in general. Hulu’s ‘No Ads’ feature only applies to content that’s available through the basic Hulu catalog. However, with the live TV subscription, subscribers gain access to additional content, including live TV.

There is no option to disable the ads with live TV as they are shown in real time. Likewise, the on demand section of the app and website will also include additional show episodes and movies that are only available to live TV subscribers. Similar to the live TV content, these on demand titles are served by the various third-party network providers.

As this additional content is provided by third-parties, Hulu doesn’t have any control over the ad experience. Therefore, there is no way for the service to remove or limit the ads. This is not to say that all network partner content will include ads, but if a video does, it will be the decision of the third-party network provider and not Hulu.

Other reasons for Hulu ads

Excluded content, videos provided by network providers, and shows and movies broadcast via live TV, are going to be the main reasons why Hulu (No Ads) subscribers encounter commercials. However, there may be additional reasons why ads are occasionally shown. One of them is premium networks. Similar to the network partner content, if a subscriber adds a premium network to their package, they may encounter ads during shows.

Most premium networks won’t include typical ad-breaks, but they might show promotional ads for some of the shows and movies they currently have available on their channel. Alternatively, promotional adverts for any of their other services or products.

Then there’s cloud DVR. Hulu provides live TV subscribers with the option to record content to their DVR for viewing at a later time. Similar to watching live, DVR recordings include everything that happens while the show episode or movie is broadcast, including ads. Due to this, ads are likely to be visible when playing back the recording. However, No Ads subscribers do have the option of fast-forwarding through these ads, so while they are shown, they can also be skipped.

Why Hulu No Ads shows ads summary

Overall, Hulu’s No Ads upgrade can be applied to either a basic Hulu or Hulu Live TV subscription. Either way, the upgrade only applies to content that’s available through the basic Hulu catalog. Any show episodes or movies that are available outside of the Hulu catalog might include ad breaks. This can include content available through network partners, premium networks, live TV, and on demand.

With live TV and on demand network content, Hulu has no control over the ad experience, and therefore cannot remove the commercials in the same way. This is also true for recordings made through the cloud DVR feature. Although, No Ads subscribers are able to skip through the ads.

On top of all of this, there are some shows that will be unavailable to watch ad-free through Hulu, simply due to streaming rights.

Read more: How Many Hulu Devices at the Same Time?

John Finn

By John Finn

John started Streaming Clarity to help consumers navigate the live TV streaming and subscription service landscape. John has been writing about technology and TV-related services and devices since 2014 and believes the best streaming approach is to bounce between services as needed. Contact John via email at john@streamingclarity.com or on Twitter

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