Among the online streaming options available today, Netflix and Hulu are two of the most popular but the focus of their content library is quite different. Netflix offers the widest selection of movies and thousands of older TV shows, while Hulu Plus, offers a stronger collection of current-season TV shows and a smaller selection of movies. One disadvantage with Hulu Plus is ads — Netflix offers an ad-free experience. Both services are $7.99 per month and both have apps available on a wide variety of devices, including smart TVs and video game consoles like the Xbox.
|Products||Video on demand; primarily TV shows, including current season shows.||Video on demand, online DVD and Blu-ray disc rental; primarily movies and older TV shows.|
|Library size||Around 1,650 shows and 2,500 movies||About 100,000 movies and TV shows|
|Price||Hulu Plus is $7.99 per month; basic service is free but not all shows are available with the basic service and it does not work on smartphones and tablets.||Monthly $7.99 for online streaming only; additional $7.99 for DVD-by-mail service and an additional $2/month for Blu-ray discs.|
|Headquarters||Los Angeles, California, U.S.||Los Gatos, California, US|
|Ads||Yes, even with Hulu Plus||No|
|Subscribers||About 3 million Hulu Plus subscribers (2012); Unknown number of free content viewers.||About 30 million subscribers, plus 7.75 million internationally (Jun 2013)|
|Video quality||288p, 360p, 480p and sometimes 720p HD||Tier 1: DVD Quality (1.5Mbit/s connection needed), Tier 2 (Better than DVD Quality 3Mbit/s needed) Tier 3: 720p (5Mbit/s needed). Tier 4: 1080p has been introduced.|
|When TV shows are available||Typically within a day of airing||Not until the next season of a show begins|
|Type||Joint venture||Public company|
|Audio quality||Stereo sound||Dolby Digital 5.1|
|Revenue||$695 million (2012)||US$3.6 billion (FY 2012)|
|Original series||Yes: 4 already, 3 upcoming||Yes, including House of Cards and Arrested Development and Orange is The New Black|
|Anime||Many titles; mostly subbed.||Few titles; mostly dubbed.|
|New Uploads||Current season TV shows are generally available; availability of new movies is slow.||Current season TV series episodes are generally not available. Availability of new movies is slow.|
|Advertising||Proprietary. Streaming video with complementary banners. Interrupts streaming video service, modeled after broadcast television.||None|
edit Content Library
edit TV Shows vs. Movies
Hulu offers some movies but is primarily known for TV shows, including related clips, trailers and interviews. It is unique in that it has episodes available quickly, often within a day of the original airing, and features shows from networks including NBC, ABC, Fox, Current TV, ION Television, USA Network, Brave, Syfy, E!, A&E, and Oxygen. Hulu has made four original series – A Day in the Life, Battleground, Spoilers and Up to Speed – and is launching 3 more. A January 2014 article on Forbes stated that
“Hulu Plus carries current season episodes for 5 of the top 6 US broadcast networks, which is something that Netflix is only able to do for a select few shows in international markets,” [Morgan Stanley lead analyst Scott] Devitt says, noting that parent companies ABC, NBC and Fox have made huge amounts of their content available on Hulu, which currently boasts a TV catalog of 86,000 episodes from 2,900 TV series. In other words: Netflix may be great for binge watchers, but cord-cutters looking for next-day viewing of their favorite shows are likelier to go to Hulu Plus.
Netflix has many more films and TV shows, but it can often be a year after an episode airs before it appears on the service. However, it has a huge library of older shows, and a large children’s section. Netflix is also working on its own original shows, and has launched House of Cards and the revival of (or sequel to) Arrested Development.
Hulu has not stated the size of its library, but it is estimated that it has more than 43,000 TV episodes from 1,650 shows, and over 2,500 films.
Netflix has over 100,000 titles in its library. This counts individual episodes of TV shows. Netflix does not publicize the size of its content library because, the company says, it changes as title availabilities expire or new ones become available.
Hulu offers some international TV shows, typically from the UK and Canada. It also has Korean drama like Boys Before Flowers.
Netflix offers many foreign films, and some foreign TV series, including Norwegian drama Lilyhammer, and British shows such as Being Human and Downton Abbey.
edit Device Compatibility
The Hulu website is incompatible with most portable devices, such as iPads, because it uses Flash. Hulu Plus members can use it on many platforms, including Apple TV, iPad, Blu-ray players, TiVo, iOS and Android smartphones, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.
Netflix apps are also available on all these platforms and others such as Roku, Windows phone and Google's Chromecast.
edit Closed Caption Availability
82% of Netflix content has subtitles. The company aims to reach 90% availability by the end of 2013 and 100% by the end of 2014.
Closed captions are also available for most of Hulu's TV show content, especially all the recent- and current-season episodes.
edit Where Offered
Hulu is only available in the US and in Japan.
Netflix is available in many countries, including the US, Canada, Mexico, South America, the UK, Ireland, and Nordic countries (excluding Iceland). The available content varies depending on the region.
As of April 2013, Hulu Plus has about 3 million subscribers and Netflix has over 30 million subscribers in the US.
Basic use of Hulu is free; the service is supported by ads. Hulu Plus costs $7.99 per month. Hulu Plus offers access to more content and apps to view content on smartphones and tablets via Hulu's apps for iOS and Android. A disadvantage of Hulu Plus is that this premium service is also ad-supported. TV shows on Hulu Plus are interrupted with ads; movies are not.
Netflix costs $7.99 per month, for unlimited instant streaming. There are no ads on Netflix. Netflix also offers a DVD-by-mail subscription service with various monthly plans.
edit How to choose between Netflix and Hulu Plus
The bottom line is that if you're into movies, Netflix is a better option and if you like to stay current on all the latest TV shows, Hulu Plus is a better option. Of course, when comparing with cable, it is cheaper to get both Hulu Plus and Netflix ($16 per month compared with cable TV, which typically runs from $30 - $120 per month).
edit Recent News
- Netflix - Official Website
- Hulu - Official Website
- How Netflix Works
- Hulu Plus - Official Website
- Netflix Instant vs. Hulu Plus vs. Amazon Instant Video - Digital Trends
- 2013 Showdown: Netflix vs. Hulu Plus - Information Space
- Netflix vs. Hulu Plus: Who best fits your video streaming needs? - Geek.com
- Netflix vs Hulu Plus - Gadget Review
- Hulu offers hit international TV - CSMonitor.com
- How the Growing Availability of International TV Shows Online Could Provide U.S. Programming With Tough Competition - Indiewire
- Can Netflix Sell U.S. Users on Foreign Shows? - The Hollywood Reporter