HuluRandom.com – A Sunday experiment with Hulu’s hidden APIThis entry was posted on Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013 at 1:51 pm, and it's filed under Work.
I wish we just had a random button to turn something on that we would never normally watch.
Said my girlfriend on Sunday morning
“I can do that.” As Netflix/Hulu Plus users who have officially written off traditional cable as a viable source of entertainment, we’ve adopted a new way of watching TV. We sit down (most of the time with a beer), and pick specifically what we want to watch. When Bethany first mentioned this idea to me, our immediate thought was to make a ‘random button’ for Netflix. Unfortunately, Netflix recently stopped giving out API keys to new developers for their public API. I don’t have one–Bummer.
I looked to Hulu next, but couldn’t find any public documentation or access on their tech blog. Fortunately, I stumbled on an article entitled Hulu’s Hidden API. Apparently this guy found some endpoints used internally on a Hulu Labs project, and built a nice little PHP library for it. Score…! A few hours later, Hulu Random was born, and I was firing through some super-random videos on Hulu.
The future of Hulu Random is bleak. At any given second, Hulu could shut down the endpoints or change the unambiguous client id (it’s ‘hulu’…..). Hopefully they do just that, but on the day they release a public version of the API.
For the experiment, here’s what I found:
Hulu has hundreds of thousands of videos; some entertaining, some mind numbingly dull, and some downright stupid. Obviously not many people choose from those second two categories, myself included. After using this little toy to watch some random videos, though, I starting enjoying new things. A sitcom that I’d normally browse right over, a three minute clip of the Ultimate Warrior from 1991, a ridiculous Jerry Springer style daytime show in Spanish, all of these things are interesting or hilarious. I spent the better part of Sunday evening laughing in front of my computer. The experiment was a success…!
Try to watch at least one minute of every video that comes up for you. Don’t skip anything. You might be surprised when what you’d expect to be a ‘dud’ actually has some real substance or comedy.