Streaming video fans often face a hard choice: Hulu Plus or Netflix? Both services offer tons of content at an affordable price, but this Hulu Plus vs. Netflix comparison can help you discern what the real differences are.
Basic monthly subscriptions for Hulu Plus and Netflix start at $7.99. Although equally priced, each platform provides a uniquely different service. The vast majority of Netflix content is movie-centric, owing to certain exclusivity deals it has with movie studios like Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. For the most part, though, few of these movies are actual new releases to the home video market – even those offered within its frequently updated section of “New Arrivals.”
While there are a good number of available TV series on Netflix (including classics worthy of revisiting, such as all nine seasons of The X-Files), it’s not the ideal platform for keeping up with currently broadcasting shows. Hulu Plus thrives by offering up-do-date episodes of presently running TV shows (like The Mindy Project and Chicago P.D.) but offers little by way of expansive movie content. That said, cinephiles may warm to the fact Hulu Plus offers Criterion Collection programming. Likewise, Netflix viewers get exclusive access to original programming like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, with even more originals underway.
Hulu Plus vs. Netflix is a stalemate with respect to which offers the greatest diversity of viewing platforms. With Netflix, a user can access programming via smart TV, streaming media players, game consoles, set top boxes, Blu-ray players, smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers. A free app is available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone mobile devices. There is also support for Kindle Fire and Nook devices.
Hulu Plus users can get their stream on all of the same devices.
In the area of multiple device streaming, Netflix edges out Hulu Plus for its ability to be streamed on more than one device at a time, even though that is a feature that costs extra. For an additional $1 per month (or $8.99 total before tax) Netflixers can sign up for the ability to stream on up to two devices simultaneously, and an $11.99 per month subscription will fetch as many as four concurrent streams. Hulu Plus license agreements allow content to be streamed to only one device at a time, per account.
Ease of Use
Both the Hulu Plus and Netflix interfaces are laid out in a simply understood, intuitive fashion. Signing in to either displays a veritable plethora of content suggestions that are easily searchable. Filters are also present to assist users in finding specific types of programming, such as crime thrillers or documentaries or children’s programming. Netflix’s star rating feature gives users the ability to help the platform “learn” the user’s tastes, all the better to make accurate recommendations. Both services offer queues that can be used to save movies and shows for later viewing.
In overall ease of use and functionality, Netflix emerges the more flexible of the two for its ability to create multiple viewer profiles that can be password protected. This is a bonus to parents who want to control the content their children view when alone and in control of the stream, but can also be used to better personalize the movie recommendation experience.
Tolerance for commercial advertising may be a deciding factor when evaluating Hulu Plus vs. Netflix. Netflix contains zero advertising and offers an experience more akin to traditional movie going.
Hulu Plus does a great job of replicating the TV viewing experience, commercials and all. There is also a free version of the service simply called Hulu, which is accessible only via web browser and typically focuses on older programming. Netflix includes a feature when watching series programming that automatically plays the next episode – although it has an annoying habit of requiring you to confirm you’re still watching after playing several episodes in a row. Hulu Plus also offers autoplay, however it has a tendency to play randomly selected programming instead of the next logical episode in a series.
Choosing between Hulu Plus and Netflix is as simple as asking the question, “Which do you prefer: movies or television shows?” Fans of TV programming who appreciate the occasional movie will gravitate to Hulu Plus, whereas movie fans interested in a no-ad viewing experience will choose Netflix.