Netflix and Hulu have a lot in common. They both deliver streaming video to your home through a variety of devices and software options that include (but are not limited to) the browser. Netflix is known for having an abundance of movies and its TV show selection is growing larger by the day.
Hulu is a joint venture between NBC, Fox, Disney, and others. Its primary source of video since the onset has been television programming, offering users access to shows the day after they appear on television. Movies and documentaries are also available through Hulu, and its selection is largely comprised of independent studio or older releases.
Both services provide high-quality video at decent speeds with very little downtime. Over the past two years, I’ve experienced less hangups while Hulu switches between content and commercials, but they do still happen.
Unlike Netflix, Hulu is largely available for free. The premium Hulu Plus subscription gives you the ability to watch from more devices, and access to a slightly larger selection of programming.
Netflix and Hulu also take a different approach to social. Hulu was built on the premise that users should be able to comment about various programs in a thread below the video itself. Netflix, which is more of a Blockbuster alternative than a supplement of or replacement for regular cable service, is more about the video itself than any social interaction between users.
Netflix has the huge advantage of being commercial free. Even Hulu Plus users have to deal with commercials interrupting content on a regular basis. In addition, Netflix keeps track of what you’re watching and makes suggestions based on your ratings of various content. The more you use Netflix, the better it is at finding something to your liking.
Netflix is also integrated into more televisions and media boxes. Hulu exists largely as an app where Netflix tends to be included more as a pre-installed and supported feature. Apple TV is one example of this, allowing users to browse Netflix alongside of iTunes content.
Pricing for the two premium services is the same. Hulu Plus and Netflix (streaming) are both available for US$7.99 per month. Where Hulu has an advantage is through its free content services, delivering most of its television content to users thanks to regular commercial interruptions and sponsored videos. Often, a sponsor will block an entire video, which makes it available commercial free in exchange for the user sitting through a one minute or longer commercial beforehand.
Bottom line: If you’re interested in seeing the latest episode of your favorite television shows, you’re going to want to lean to Hulu as your primary media provider. If you’re more interested in a larger selection of movies and legacy television shows season-by-season, you’ll likely find Netflix to be a better choice.
What about you? Do you prefer one over another? Comments welcome.