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Hulu downloads will finally let you binge offline

Hulu promised downloads more than a year ago.

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Hulu is one of the rare subscription video services that serves up advertising to members of its cheaper tier. 

Joan E. Solsman/CNET

Hulu, after promising downloads more than a year ago, is finally joining the ranks of streaming video services that let you cache shows and movies to watch offline when you're on a plane or anywhere else your mobile device can't get a connection. But not everybody is getting the feature right away: Starting Monday, downloads will be available to people who subscribe to Hulu's pricier, no-ads tier -- and use Apple iPhones or iPads

People with Android and other devices will have to wait, as will anyone who has Hulu's ad-supported subscription. Hulu's basic tier, which includes advertising, is $6 a month. Its ad-free premium level, which is the one getting downloads, is $12. 

Downloads have become a common feature for services like Hulu in the last three years, especially after industry leader Netflix introduced downloading in late 2016. When Hulu initially promised offline viewing, the company said Hulu would be the first service to offer downloads that also include advertising for some members. 

That version -- for people on the ad-supported plan -- isn't here yet. And the fact that downloads are only available to people watching on its iOS app suggests Hulu will progressively widen the feature to more devices and membership levels as its engineers build it out. Hulu missed its self-appointed deadline to roll out the feature; it originally said downloads would arrive sometime before the end of summer 2019. 

Hulu said thousands of shows and movies are available to download, and it specifically called out titles like Family Guy, Desperate Housewives, This is Us, How I Met Your Mother, and ER, as well as Hulu originals like The Handmaid's Tale, Shrill and The Act. 

Premium subscribers can download up to 25 titles across 5 different devices, and you have up to 30 days to watch downloaded content. Once you start playback on a download, it will expire two days later. Once a downloaded content item expires, viewers can renew it if it's still available on Hulu.

To find downloads, iOS app users need to update their Hulu app, then look for the downloads icon in the bottom navigation. That page will also give you the option to search Hulu's downloadable catalog. Additionally, shows and movies available to download will have a small download icon next to their titles. 

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