Hulu Hit With Lawsuit That Claims It Deliberately Throttles on Web Browsers

A new lawsuit filed against Hulu claims that the streaming service intentionally throttles its speed in certain formats in an attempt to drive users to its dedicated app. According to a report by Variety, the suit argues that Hulu intentionally makes its service work slower on web browsers on computers, while encouraging subscribers to download the app instead. The suit suggests that this is because Hulu can more easily collect and sell user data from the app.

It is not clear who filed the lawsuit, but it was brought to the Los Angeles Superior Court in California on April 16. It accuses Hulu of false advertising and fraud for the claim that high-quality streaming would be available "on all your favorite devices." The plaintiff argues that Hulu is not following through on that promise for their particular favorite device. They are not the first person to level this complaint against Hulu. "Defendants prefer that users use the Hulu applications because, compared to computer browsers, applications provide more direct access to consumers' personal data during online and offline use," reads the lawsuit.

Hulu itself seems to have confirmed that there was a widespread problem with high-definition streaming in web browsers at one point. The lawsuit cites a Hulu discussion board, where a user complained: "video quality is HD and fine on my TV where I'm using a FireStick, but on my PC the quality is horrible." An official Hulu rep responded to this comment, writing: "Apologies for the trouble! Our team is aware of this issue and are actively working to re-enable High Definition streaming on Hulu.com."

In comments over the next few months, more users wrote that this problem had not been fixed, and similar issues had drawn them there for help. Other message boards, including Reddit, have seen extensive discussion of this issue from all over the world. One Redditor shared their conversation with a Hulu representative where they confirmed that HD quality video had been "temporarily disabled" on the website, and suggested that users try another device in the meantime.

With this evidence, the lawsuit against Hulu seeks to represent all subscribers in the U.S., with a case for fraud and false advertising. The lawsuit denotes subclasses of plaintiffs in California and New York as well, arguing that they can bring state-law claims against the company there. So far, Hulu has not responded publicly to the lawsuit.