Hulu’s weekend outage affected some users trying to watch Olympics, NBA All-Star game

Hulu is still recovering from a hit to its reputation due to a live streaming outage that affected some number of subscribers during the Super Bowl. But over the weekend, the company’s live TV service experienced another outage, this time leading to login and connection issues. The issues prevented users from watching other high-profile sporting events, including the Olympics and the NBA All-Star game, as well as other live TV programs and video-on-demand.

The company’s support Twitter account officially confirmed the problem on Saturday, February 17, 2018, saying the team was investigating the issue.

Shortly after confirming the problem was resolved, the account posted again to say that it was working on an issue affecting login.

Around an hour later, Hulu announced all affected services were fully restored.

But on Sunday night, February 18, 2018, Hulu tweeted again that some users were still experiencing login troubles.

This last issue wasn’t confirmed to be resolved until midnight on Monday, February 19, 2018.

That means for the majority of the weekend, some portion of Hulu users were not able to use the service as expected. Needless to say, the affected subscribers were fairly upset about this, as indicated by their angry tweets.

Following every tweet from the @Hulu_Support account is a stream of tweets from users who couldn’t log in, couldn’t stream, were experiencing lags, couldn’t start shows and, in some cases, had spent a lot of time troubleshooting the issues themselves, to no avail. Many were also confused and upset because Hulu had tweeted the issues were resolved when they were not, as it turned out.

Some customers are even now demanding refunds for the month or a free month of service, like those affected by the Super Bowl outages received. (Hulu doesn’t have an official plan to dole out refunds at this time, as it did for the Super Bowl snafu, but its customer support team may give out refunds on a case-by-case basis for those who ask, we’ve heard.)

Hulu has declined to comment on the outage.

According to sources familiar with the situation that occurred over the weekend, the outages were a result of an issue at Hulu’s Las Vegas data center. The company had to migrate its services to another data center, and then later, migrate them back, leading to downtime for users. The root cause, however, is still under investigation.

This is a different problem from what happened during the Super Bowl. The big game was interrupted for some due to a problem with Hulu’s system for extending live programming past its scheduled stop time.

That distinction may not matter much to Hulu users, however.

Unfortunately for Hulu, there’s little tolerance for technical issues with live TV services these days, given how many alternatives are now available. If one is not working well, subscribers can simply cancel and jump to another, like AT&T DirecTV Now, Dish’s Sling TV, Sony’s PlayStation Vue, fuboTV, Philo or Google’s YouTube TV.

Even if the reported streaming issues don’t impact all users — Hulu said that only a “small percentage” were affected during the Super Bowl, for example (and this weekend’s outage may be even smaller) — consumers may still be concerned about the service’s stability because of what’s happening to other customers.

Meanwhile, YouTube TV has been capitalizing on Hulu’s connectivity issues to tout its own service’s reliability. When announcing its channel expansions and $5 per month price increase last week, for example, YouTube TV highlighted how stable is service is.

“We have, by a very wide margin, the most live local stations. And on top of that, it’s also about quality of signal and reliability of signal,” Heather Moosnick, director of Content Partnerships at YouTube TV, said in an interview with TechCrunch.

“Those are two things we’re really focused on. We want people to know that when they’re signing up to a live TV service, they’re going to get a live TV service… It’s something we’re very invested in and committed to. If it’s the first time you’ve signed up to a live TV service and you can’t watch the Super Bowl — we want to make sure that doesn’t happen to you,” she added, clearly referencing Hulu’s recent struggles.

Hulu had heavily promoted its custom interface for tracking the Olympics as a big differentiator from other streaming competitors. The company’s app allows users to follow their favorite events, and keep up with them from a personalized dashboard. But however great the feature is, it’s no good if the service itself doesn’t work.

Hulu is not the first to struggle with connectivity in the early days of its service. Both Sling TV and DirecTV Now also experienced issues in the past, and both have since grown to become the two largest, in terms of subscribers.

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