As fans have had ample time to binge programming on all streaming services under the sun, users have started to notice one issue in particular — Hulu apparently scales back quality on web-based browsers in favor of pushing top-quality programming to mobile devices. The problem's been widespread enough it's now at the center of a class action lawsuit filed within the past month on behalf of all Hulu subscribers.
According to the suit filed April 16th in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles, Hulu allegedly throttles quality on web-based browsers in an attempt to drive users to their mobile devices. A large part of the reasoning behind that decision, the suit says, is so that Hulu has easier access to viewing habits on tracking data of subscribers. Both Fox-Hulu Holdings, Inc. and Walt Disney's direct-to-consumer division are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
"Defendants advertise their subscription services as high quality and misleads consumers into believing that the Hulu Subscriptions will provide the same high quality video streaming on computer devices and Hulu's applications alike even though the Hulu Subscriptions accessed on computer devices are throttled to prevent high quality streaming," the lawsuit alleges. "By doing so, Defendants are able to charge a substantial price premium for its Hulu Subscriptions on the account of its false Streaming Quality Claims."
The lawsuit doesn't expressly state exact damages the plaintiffs hope to retrieve via the lawsuit, though it does mention all compensatory, statutory, and punitive damages should be determined by a jury. The lawsuit also asks Hulu to stop the aforementioned throttling and the service's misleading advertising claims.
As evidenced by at least one Reddit post from 2019, the issue has been active for well over a year, with multiple users reporting the poorer quality time after time through various means. At one point, one Hulu representative even went on record to say it'd be fixed, saying on the Hulu forums, "Apologies for the trouble! Our team is aware of this issue and are actively working to re-enable High Definition streaming on Hulu.com."
Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.