The Great Debate: Netflix vs. Hulu

In a time where online streaming may soon best traditional cable, more and more companies are positioning themselves as leaders within the entertainment community. From TV networks that house their own shows, to outlets that charge a monthly fee, many viewers are now heading online to get in their TV viewing time.

But the fact still remains: which streaming mogul is better? Netflix or Hulu? By comparing side-by-side features, we’ll size up who offers what, and what consumers are getting for the price.

What they Offer

netflixvshulu135x120For those who don’t know, Netflix provides two different services: DVD rental (via snail mail) and online streaming. Each costs users $8 a month, and comes with unlimited use. As for the selection, thousands of movies and TV shows are offered, all of which are regularly updated. There’s a “recently added” section so users can separate out what’s new; streaming from DVD-only content are also separate.

Hulu also comes in two versions: free and paid. The free version is only available online, while paid subscriptions (Hulu Plus, at $8.99/mo.) can be used on smartphones, tablets, and gaming consoles. Here’s where it gets tricky. The free version plays many new TV shows, generally placing them up the day after, and allowing viewers to watch for a few weeks before timing out. The paid version also provides this, while also offering older shows to be viewed. However, many seasons can be viewed in entirety – though this doesn’t seem to be the rule. Some shows aren’t available at all, some can only be watched on the computer (even with a paid subscription), and others host entire current seasons.

The Differences

24The main difference, besides the $1/mo, is what content can be viewed. Hulu Plus offers new shows, but not necessarily back seasons of that same show. For Netflix, the opposite is true. Hulu Plus also intermingles programs that are computer-only with those which can be viewed on any device. And according to user reviews, Netflix has a better gaming device setup, allowing shows to be easily browsed, while Hulu Plus’ version needs updating. (Their website, however, got rave reviews.) Hulu viewers also see commercials, while Netflix users do not.

The Cons

Both platforms’ biggest enemy seems to be contracts. Some networks make it hard to obtain viewing rights (jump on board already, CBS), as do movie companies. While the growth of streaming has somewhat minimized this problem, users still manage to experience content gaps.

So, which is better? Unfortunately there’s no good answer; it depends on the type of programs are preferred. Netflix certainly has the larger selection size (by far), while Hulu/Plus offer many shows the day after they’re aired. For those who can’t decide, opt for both – it’s still cheaper than cable.

What’s your favorite?