Have you ever found yourself drifting to sleep while watching one of your favorite shows when all of a sudden, you’re jerked awake by the loud sounds of a commercial? Well you’re not alone. Multiple subscribers to the streaming platform Hulu have noticed that the volume on the commercials that come on two to three times per program are extremely loud.
But exactly why are Hulu commercials so loud? And if enough people complain, can’t Hulu tweak a couple of things on the backend and get the issue fixed? Turns out it’s not that simple after all.
Why are commercials on Hulu so loud?
While Hulu and other streaming platforms have revolutionized the way we watch TV, it seems as though advertisers are getting back to old tried-and-true tricks to keep our ever-wandering attention. Multiple users of the streaming platform have noticed that while shows play at a normal volume, the ads on Hulu can get obnoxiously loud.
This can get extremely annoying as a TV viewer and in fact, there’s even a law that regulates the volume of television advertisements. The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act, passed in 2010, makes it illegal for any commercial’s volume to exceed the average volume of the channel that it comes on. According to the FCC, this prevented TV stations “from boosting the average volume of commercials to levels beyond the programs they accompany.”
However, advertisers quickly figured out how to get around the CALM Act by making certain parts of the commercial louder, but only such that they could be balanced out by softer moments so that the average volume of the commercial could match that of the TV program.
Advertisers often also make the initial few seconds of the commercial softer, before increasing the volume moments later, so it can appear to have the same volume.
How do viewers get around this annoying volume issue?
According to multiple posts on Hulu Community in which users complain about this volume issue, Hulu has claimed that their “product teams are continuously working to improve volume inconsistencies across the Hulu streaming library” and that they urge users to pass along reports of volume inconsistencies by reaching out to their chat team.
But rather than frantically grabbing for the remote to mute the TV while Hulu "figures it out," the FCC’s website suggests that viewers change the settings of their television sets to stabilize the overall volume levels. If you’re watching Hulu on a desktop, you can also install various plugins that automatically mute your computer during commercials and restore the volume when the commercial ends.
If that doesn’t work, file a complaint. The FCC relies on viewers to keep advertisers in check and alert them to commercials that don’t adhere to the CALM Act’s guidelines. If you feel like your commercial experience is way too loud, go to fcc.gov and let them know what's going on.
You’ll need to note down if you were watching on cable, satellite, or broadcast; what channel it was on; the name of the advertiser and product; the date and time of the commercial; and the name of the TV program during which it aired.
Good luck, and happy streaming!