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The Search is On

November 30th, 2009 by Rebecca Harper Editor

Behind the scenes here at Hulu, we’re always making little adjustments to make the site better for our users. A lot of these tweaks come about based on our own use of the site, but we also implement a lot of the suggestions submitted to us by our users. Lately, we’ve been focusing on our search tools — after all, we want Hulu to be a better place to not only watch videos, but also to find them, too.

With this mission in mind, we improved our search capabilities with a new feature called Advanced Search, which we’ve unveiled today as part of Hulu for the Holidays. Advanced search offers an easy-to-use interface that allows you to find the exact video you’re looking for — look for it on any search results page, or follow the link near the bottom of the Hulu.com homepage. You can search by a keyword or phrase (use quotes to set off a phrase), search within specific fields (such as Show Title, Video Title, Description and more), and use common search operators — “and,” “or” and “not” — to narrow your results.

Advanced Search

The Advanced Search menu also offers a way to limit your results to videos with closed captioning — just click on the appropriate check box. In addition, a family-friendly search option offers an easy way to search for content that might be more appropriate for younger viewers. (The filter will exclude videos that are rated TV-14, PG-13, TV-MA, R, NC-17, NSFW or NR.)

If you search for videos on Hulu often, we offer search operators that correspond with each of the fields in our Advanced Search menu, so you can type in a complete search query directly from the search bar. For instance, you can use the plus sign (“+”) to add keywords to your search string. For example, +jim +pam +wedding calls up videos related to Jim and Pam’s wedding on The Office earlier this season. (You can learn more about search operators in this blog entry or by checking out our updated Search Tips page.)

As always, we welcome your feedback about search or anything you see on Hulu. You can send suggestions and comments to us at . In the meantime, we have a lot more content and site features lined up for the remainder of Hulu for the Holidays, including today’s film, Vexille. Available in dubbed and subtitled formats, this CG/motion-capture title takes place in 2077 Japan, where a tough-as-nails agent, Vexille, is out to expose the country’s dealings with banned robotic biotechnology.

Rebecca Harper ()

Last comment: Aug 1st 2017 11 Comments

Search Update

July 21st, 2009 by Rebecca Harper Editor

The team at Hulu continues to refine our search tools, making it easier for you to find more videos to enjoy now that we’re deep into summer. Whether you’re looking for a specific video — pint-size guitar hero Tallan Noble Latz, perhaps? — or simply browsing for something new to watch, the team has made a few modifications to our Search Results pages, as well as our Most Popular and Recently Added pages.

The most prominent change is cosmetic, as we have moved away from our former two-column grid and have given prominent placement to the show you’re most likely searching for. You can subscribe to the show, check on its availability, and get a brief description of the show, but you can easily pinpoint a specific episode using the browse tools to the upper right of the results. For current shows, such as Better Off Ted or America’s Got Talent, we’ll default the most recent episode; for older shows, like Miami Vice, we’ll highlight the pilot episode (or the first episode we have if the pilot is unavailable). You can browse through the episodes available there, or scroll down the page to check out all the videos that match your search.

Hulu Search Results: Better Off Ted

Your results can be refined using the filter menus — display only clips or full episodes, or sort by relevance or airdate, for instance — and those of you looking for closed captioning can opt for the “cc only” option, which will call up results with that feature, if any related videos are available.

These changes are carried over to our Most Popular and Recently Added pages. And because we really do listen to your feedback, we’ve modified things so that multiple clips or several episodes from a particular season of a show are now collapsed into a single entry that you can click on to expand. That way, you can easily bypass the videos you’re not interested in, but still easily to delve into the content you do care about, like the latest clips from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

recently added clips

And finally, from the Time-Based Search page in Hulu Labs, you can also search for videos based on date and then use the Video Type filter to display clips or full episodes only.

Now that you’ve read all about these new features, give them a try and let us know what you think: send your feedback to .

Rebecca ()

Last comment: Apr 20th 2013 5 Comments

The Search Continues

April 6th, 2009 by Eugene Wei SVP, Audience

We’ve added some enhancements to search that some of you may have noticed and used already. Even if they’re already familiar tools, you may not have noticed all of them, so here’s a quick rundown.

First up are search shortcuts. For nearly as long as we’ve been up on the web, we’ve offered auto-complete in the search box for common searches, typically show titles. Those searches have always taken you to our regular search results page and will continue to do so, but we’ve now added some shortcut links as well in our autocomplete list.

Start typing a show title in our search box, and we’ll start to show potential matches as you type, but beneath the most likely show title match, we now offer other quick links depending on the show.

For current shows, we know from studying search navigation behavior and from our own usage of Hulu that many users who type in a show title are simply looking to watch the latest episode, so we’ve added a quick link to current shows takes you directly to the latest episode, saving you from having to navigate to the search results page and then clicking on the latest episode.

For all shows, current or not, we’ve also added a shortcut which reads “go to show page” for those of you who want to visit our overview for that show, including a list of all our episodes and clips, user reviews, discussion forums, show descriptions and cast lists, availability notes, and more. We’ve also added related searches to the autocomplete dropdown, set off below a grey horizontal line. All of these should make our search box a bit more functional and help you get you where you need to go sooner.

Hulu search shortcuts

With that same goal in mind, we’ve also launched support for a series of search operators for those of you comfortable with formulating more complex and directed queries. For a full list of those, visit our new search tips page. The search operators we’ve added are:

  • show
  • season
  • episode
  • type
  • date
  • site
  • people
  • title

Most of these operators do what you’d expect them to do based on their name, but a few warrant further explanation. To use any of these search operators, put them in your search query followed directly by a colon and then a value. Use quotation marks to specify multi-word values.

If you employ multiple search operators, we’ll treat it as an “AND” and try to satisfy all of the operators. For example, let’s say you’d like to watch every pilot episode for every TV show on our site. You could type the following search query:

season:1 episode:1 type:episode

Voila — every pilot we index, including those that aren’t streamed directly on Hulu. Until I conducted that search, I didn’t realize just how many we track, over 700 at present.

Let’s say you only wish to see episodes we stream on Hulu.com, though, and you’re curious about which of those pilots aired during the 1990’s, the height of your TV-viewing youth (I’d use the dates from my TV-viewing youth, but I’ve already taken enough of a beating about my age from my youthful coworkers). Take the original query and modify it like so:

season:1 episode:1 type:episode site:hulu date:1990-1999

Let’s shift gears. Suppose you’ve seen every episode of 30 Rock and, blown away by Alec Baldwin’s comedic performance as Jack Donaghy, you decide to dive deep into his Saturday Night Live oeuvre, having never been able to stay up late enough to catch SNL over the years. You could use this search query:

people:”alec baldwin” show:”saturday night live”

By the way, just out of curiosity, I modified the query above to use Kristen Wiig, and the number of results returned was over 4X that of the handful of other popular cast members I thought to try. Let me know if you find an SNL cast member with a larger footprint on the site.

For my last search operator example, let’s say you’re standing at the office water cooler on Monday morning and two of your coworkers are laughing hysterically and asking you if you saw the “I’m on a Boat” video over the weekend. You have no idea what they’re talking about but nod and laugh so as not to seem uncool and pop-culturally oblivious. You have no idea what show they’re referring to, but you’re fairly certain that’s the name of the video (which, by the way, is actually a unique situation as most users have no idea what the titles of TV episodes are, one of the unique issues related to TV video searches). Type this query:

title:”i’m on a boat”

And just like that, you’re on a boat, and you never thought you’d be on a boat. It’s a big, blue watery road.

I’ve only just touched on the types of fun, interesting, and useful searches you can execute using one or more of these search operators, either alone or in conjunction with others. Read over our search tips and try formulating some of your own and you’ll be a Hulu power user in no time.

With all of these search enhancements, we know there will still be times when you may scan the first page of search results and realize you need to reformulate your query. To save you some vertical scrolling, we’ve added a bottom search box to our site and will leave your most recent query in it for quick modification.

If you glance at the bottom search box, next to the Search Tips link, you’ll see a link that reads Search Plugin. If you use a browser that supports OpenSearch, click on that link to add Hulu to your browser’s search box options. Popular browsers that support OpenSearch include Firefox, Internet Explorer and Chrome.

Give all these enhancements a whirl and let us know what you think.
Even with all of these updates, we recognize that video search is still one of the areas of greatest opportunity for elevating our users’ experience in quantum leaps. We’re still only brushing the surface. Look for many more Hulu search features in the months to come.

Eugene (),
Product Guy

Last comment: Oct 26th 2016 5 Comments