Hulu Plus vs. Amazon Prime Instant Video

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Pay streaming services Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime Instant Video offer consumers an affordable alternative to traditional cable. For those seeking to choose one over the other, the decision is not always a simple one. Both services offer vast amounts of streaming video content compatible with numerous devices – but which one stands out as the best option? The Hulu Plus vs. Amazon Prime debate really all depends on what you like more: TV or movies.

Content Offerings

Amazon Prime Instant Video

Amazon Prime Instant Video

Both Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime Instant Video deliver television programming in addition to movie content. But where Amazon Prime’s primary focus is on the latter, the main draw of Hulu Plus is the ability to view currently broadcasting TV series. Amazon Prime also gives subscribers the opportunity to watch TV shows that are presently on-air, but it does so at additional cost – sometimes as much as $2.99 per episode. A monthly subscription to Hulu Plus runs $7.99, but that covers all programming and there are no extra fees to pay.

Another differentiating factor when weighing Hulu Plus vs. Amazon Prime is the availability of original programming. Amazon Prime ranks second only to Netflix for having the most highly visible original series (the Emmy Award-winning Transparent), whereas Hulu Plus has yet to score big with anything truly noteworthy. Both show signs of commitment to increased original programming.

Hulu Plus includes a modest library of movies of various genres, but the selection is slim compared to that of Amazon Plus and the vast majority are movies that have been on the home video market for some time. Amazon Prime’s movie listings include fresh-from-the-theater releases, but most of these also require payment on top of the annual $99 membership fee. The crowning jewel in Hulu Plus’s movie catalog is its selection of Criterion Collection titles.

Availability

Hulu Plus for tablets

Hulu Plus for tablets

Amazon Prime Instant Video and Hulu Plus content can be streamed across a great diversity of devices, including desktop or laptop computers, gaming consoles, set top boxes, Blu-ray players, smart TVs, and Android and iOS mobile devices. A Hulu Plus app is even available for use with the Kindle Fire and Fire phone. Only Hulu Plus supports Windows Phone, giving it a slight edge in the area of all-encompassing compatibility.

One bonus perk of selecting Amazon Prime is that Kindle Fire and Fire phone users can download content for offline viewing when no data or Internet connection is available. Hulu Plus can be streamed to only one device at a time, per account. Amazon Prime allows streaming of up to two titles at a time to different devices, but limits streaming of the same title to one device at a time.

Ease of Use

Owing to their intuitively designed interfaces, both streaming services rank high in the ease of use category. The Amazon Prime Instant Video content library is simple to navigate and includes filters to narrow a search by content type (movie or TV show), genre, editor’s picks and recently added titles. The Hulu Plus interface also includes search filters, but the layout tends to be overly-busy with TV and movie listings, trending entertainment headlines, and select clips and trailers.

Both offer an easily accessible search function that can find selections based on title or people. They each also enable users to favorite programming and create queues for later viewing. At the present time, only Amazon facilitates parental controls, which requires the entry of a passcode to purchase or watch restricted content.

What Else?

Hulu Plus TV shows on Android smartphone

Hulu Plus TV offerings

If commercial advertisements are an issue, Amazon Prime Instant Video emerges as the obvious choice for the discriminating viewer who prefers uninterrupted entertainment. Even though Hulu Plus subscribers pay for a monthly membership, all content includes commercials that can’t be skipped.

While a Hulu Plus plan brings a greater variety of currently on-air TV shows, an Amazon Prime yearly membership brings the added perks of free two-day shipping on Amazon merchandise, ad-free Prime music streaming, and access to the Kindle lending library.

Both Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus have a growing number of programming for younger viewers. To sweeten the deal, all of Hulu Plus children’s programming is broadcast commercial-free.

Conclusion

In the end, the decision on which streaming service to sign up for rests entirely on the subscriber’s preference. Hulu Plus offers the greatest number of current and re-run television shows, with lesser emphasis on movies. Amazon Prime Instant Video, sometimes seen as a side benefit of Amazon’s free two-day shipping service, provides a greater selection of movies but requires additional payment for newer content.

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