Home entertainment has come a long way since the days of cable vs. premium channels.
Nowadays, the argument tends to pit Netflix vs. Hulu Plus.
In this article, we’re going to compare these two popular services based on six metrics:
- Content – The shows and movies available
- Original Content – The shows and movies made by these companies
- Pricing – How much you’ll pay a month
- Availability – Where you can access these services
- HD Quality – The resolution available
- Interface – The usability of the actual sites
At the end, we’ll even show you how other sites weighed in.
So, if you’re trying to choose between Netflix and Hulu Plus, you’re about 10 minutes from finding out which is best.
We’re going to start here because, for the vast majority of you, this is what your decision will come down to: who has the best content?
Simply put, if you like movies and/or older TV shows, go with Netflix.
On the other hand, if you like modern TV shows, you’ll want to go with Hulu Plus. This streaming service actually plays new shows with 24 hours after they air and then keeps them available for five days.
So, if you enjoy talking with friends or coworkers about what happened recently on a hit show, you should definitely go with Hulu Plus.
Keep in mind that the nature of these services is that their offerings are constantly changing. Aside from their original content (which we’ll cover in a minute), Netflix and Hulu Plus sign licensing deals to lock in shows and movies for a certain amount of time.
For example, Hulu Plus features the Criterion Collection, which gives users access to a library of classic films.
Until November, 2017.
That’s when the Criterion Channel launches and Hulu Plus loses these movies.
However, as these can always change, it’s worth thinking about the future outlook for both companies. We’ll cover that in a moment.
Tie – Depends on what you like to watch
We’re giving original content its own category because, more and more, these types of shows and movies are getting as much attention as their traditional counterparts.
That’s largely because Netflix’s original programming is hugely popular. This isn’t going away, either. This past December, Forbes even ran an article on the topic, “Original Programming Can Be Netflix’s Key Competitive Edge In 2017.”
Amongst other things, it argues that Netflix is actually becoming better known for its original content. While the site still needs to promise popular shows and movies, their reputation for making amazing content is paying off.
Try having a conversation about awards season or simply about the best shows being made without mentioning Netflix Originals like:
- Orange Is the New Black
- Stranger Things
- House of Cards
Hulu Plus can’t compete with Netflix’s original content. Will this change in the near future? Only time will tell.
At the moment, though, if you want to remain relevant around the water cooler, it’s probably just best to catch your favorite shows when they air (or DVR them) and then go with Netflix for all the new series everyone seems to be talking about.
Obviously, no matter how much you like a product, it has to fit into your budget.
Again, this is something that is always subject to change.
The good news is that both of these streaming services tend to stay pretty competitive with one another (as you’d expect.).
Here’s how the breakdown looks as of April, 2017:
- $8/month – Standard-definition video for a single screen
- $10/month – High-definition video for two screens
- $12/month – 4K UHD video for four screens
- $7.99/month – with ads
- $11.99/month – without ads
As you can see, price isn’t the only factor at play when choosing a streaming service.
Netflix has no ads, whatsoever. Sure, you’ll sometimes see a trailer for their original content after you watch a show or movie, but you can simply exit the screen whenever you want.
A major blow against Hulu Plus is that you have to watch ads (sometimes, three to four during a single program) unless you pay an extra $4 a month.
Furthermore, even at $11.99/month, there are a few unavoidable ads every now and then. Licensing rights mean popular shows like New Girl and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. make ads a mandatory hurdle.
One final caveat is that for between $4.99 and $6.99 more a month, Hulu Plus allows you access to additional content providers through Amazon. These include:
- PBS Kids
As with their other forms of content, you get access to popular shows a day after they air in most cases.
Tie – Again, it comes down to what kind of content you like best; the price differences are negligible and, if you really like new shows, you’ll have to watch ads on TV no matter what
We just touched on this one a bit, but it’s important enough for its own section, too.
Netflix gives you the best option in terms of resolution. If you use hardware like a PlayStation 4 and have a fast enough Internet connection, you can get up to 1080p with surround sound.
That is definitely going to make a noticeable difference.
This category is also going to Netflix.
Whether you want to watch on your phone, your computer or a TV, Netflix and Hulu Plus are both going to work equally well.
The deciding factor here is that Hulu Plus has certain streaming protocols that demand a larger allocation of bandwidth. This will become an issue if you’re in a household where multiple people are trying to use the service at the same time across different devices.
Unfortunately, the limitations also arise on mobile devices, set-top boxes and consoles. Hulu Plus limits some content to web browsers only, so you could have your viewing session cut short if you’re using a smartphone or some other mobile device.
Lastly, if you’re concerned about being able to watch content anywhere in the world, Netflix is going to be the better streaming service.
- Hong Kong
- The United Kingdom
- The United States
In total, Netflix is available in more than 40 countries.
Compare that to Hulu Plus. It’s available in the United States and Japan. That’s it.
There is also no timetable for an expansion of Hulu Plus, so don’t hold your breath on more countries being added anytime soon.
Both companies offer user-friendly interfaces no matter which method you prefer for watching shows and movies.
We could give the edge to Netflix here, but the difference isn’t great enough to warrant any serious attention.
No matter which you choose, you’ll have no problem becoming proficient in using it after a few tries.
As you can see, Netflix wins this battle handedly. Their head start into the industry – which they basically invented – probably helps a lot, but there’s also no denying that this company has shown a proficiency for innovation.
To echo what we said at the beginning, for most people, this decision is going to come down to content, so the rest of these categories may not matter too much past that initial decision.
However, there’s no denying that Netflix is leading the pack here.
Even if Hulu Plus can someday even out these categories and bring everything else to a tie, will they be able to match Netflix’s pension for producing award-winning shows that generate a ton of buzz?
Maybe, but, for the time being, there’s just no competition.
Netflix is winning the content wars and probably won’t have to worry about that lead for years to come.
So, unless you can’t live without the shows and movies on Hulu Plus, our advice is to go with Netflix.
What Do Other Sites Say?
Don’t take our word for it, though. Here are some other great sites with a summary of where their support seems to lie:
- Netflix vs. Hulu Plus: Who best fits your video streaming needs?com says, “If the spikes of that deathtrap are closing in on your face and you have to pick just one, we’d go for Netflix, but it’s still not an easy choice.”
- Netflix Vs. Hulu Plus Vs. Amazon Prime – Which Streaming Service is Best for Your Money? MobiPicker echoes our sentiments: “For great quality, a wide collection of movies and good price, we would prefer Netflix. But if you are someone who wants to catch up on the latest TV shows without waiting until they have stopped airing, Hulu may be the right choice.”
- Hulu vs Netflix Comparison: Which is the Best Streaming Service? Droidmen casts their vote for Netflix, too: “While all these services are good quality, a lot of people do prefer torrents. But if I was supposed to select one, I’d surely go for Netflix.”
- Netflix vs. Hulu: Streaming Service Showdown. PC Magazine also gave it to Netflix: “Thanks to some ties, Netflix wins five of six categories”
We like to think it’s the consumer that makes the best decisions. Help us figure out which of these in a Netflix vs. Hulu Plus comes out on top.