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Hulu Finally Enables Downloads

Hulu is finally letting users download content to their iPhones and iPads, more than a year after it announced that it would enable the feature.

For now, only subscribers to Hulu’s high-end, $12-a-month commercial-free tier can download shows and movies, and they can only download them to iOS devices—Android compatibility will come soon, the joint venture said.

Those meeting the criteria will have access to “thousands” of shows and movies, under terms that are pretty similar to transactional stores like Apple’s iTunes. Users will have 30 days to consume downloaded content, or 48 hours once they started watching it.

If the user misses the window, content can be downloaded again, and the clock starts all over.

Hulu, which is now majority-owned by Disney, is hardly first out of the gate with downloads to mobile devices, a nifty feature for consumers for plane rides and other applications. Netflix started doing it several years ago, albeit reluctantly.

So what has taken the major SVOD services so long to enable downloads?

Certainly, content security is an issue—you have to invest in the kinds of security technologies that make your content partners feel OK about letting consumers put movies and shows on their hard drives.

More than that, digital companies like Hulu are just getting started with advanced advertising businesses that are built around streaming. And data collection is also limited when consumers control the goods.