First things first: It’s impossible to proclaim the ultimate winner in the Hulu vs Netflix battle. Although the basic premise of the two streaming services is the same, they are very different from one another in many ways. Which one is right for you comes down to a number of factors including how much you want to spend, what types of shows you like to watch, and how many simultaneous streams you need, among other things.
This article covers all these things and more. We take a closer look at the similarities and differences between Hulu and Netflix to help you decide which one is more suitable for you. Let’s dive in.
Hulu vs Netflix: Availability and device support
Netflix is available in most parts of the world — you can subscribe to the service in more than 190 countries. Hulu, on the other hand, is only available in the U.S. (and U.S. military bases) and Japan. By the looks of it, it won’t make its way to other markets anytime soon.
If you live in Canada, Europe, Australia, or any other country outside the U.S. or Japan, Netflix is your best bet. Sure, there are ways to get access to Hulu in these markets, but it’s probably not worth the hassle for most people. That’s because you need a credit or debit card issued by a financial institution based in the U.S. to sign up for the streaming service. If you can manage to get it somehow or bypass the restriction with something like a Hulu gift card, you still need a good VPN to make it look like you’re based in the U.S. Even that doesn’t work all the time, as Hulu regularly blocks users who access their site via a VPN.
Unlike Netflix, Hulu is available on the Nintendo Switch.
Both Netflix and Hulu are available on Android, iOS, game consoles, media streamers like Roku and Fire TV, computers, and even certain smart TVs. Hulu is also available on the Nintendo Switch, while Netflix is not.
Hulu vs Netflix: Content
Content is the biggest factor that will determine whether you should subscribe to Hulu or Netflix. Both offer tons of movies and TV shows but have a different area of focus. Netflix is best known for its original programming, which includes hit shows like Stranger Things, Narcos, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Master of None, and plenty of others. In 2018 alone, Netflix invested well over $10 billion into its original programming. Although not every show the company made is a hit, there are plenty of good ones available in different genres.
Where Hulu has an edge over Netflix is in network TV. The streaming service is co-owned by large networks and studios including Comcast and Disney, giving it access to loads of popular TV shows. Hulu is home to old and new hit TV series like the Simpsons, Seinfeld, ER, Futurama, and plenty of others. The great thing is that it releases new episodes of some of the most popular shows around a day or so after they are aired on TV. Netflix generally releases an entire season of a certain show at once, so you have to wait longer to start watching it.
Of course, Netflix offers plenty of popular TV shows as well and Hulu has its own original shows including the popular The Handmaid’s Tale. But, generally speaking, Netflix is better for originals while Hulu offers more when it comes to network TV programming. You got a large selection of movies with both services from different genres, so there should be something in there for everyone.
Unlike Netflix, you can customize Hulu with add-ons including Cinemax, Showtime, Starz, and HBO, all of which are available for an additional monthly fee (see pricing section below). These add-ons give you access to additional content including the popular Game of Thrones, as well as all the other content Hulu offers under one roof. That means you don’t have to constantly switch between apps.
In addition to add-ons, Hulu also offers a plan with Live TV channels, which is another thing you can’t get with Netflix. This option is pricey and gets you access to more than 60 TV channels including ABC, FOX, National Geographic, CNN, and more — see full list here.
Of course, you can always combine Netflix with something like YouTube TV to get access to live TV channels and sign up for services like HBO Go and Showtime independently, but you won’t have access to all of them in one service like with Hulu.
Important: Keep in mind is that content on Netflix differs from country to country due to licensing rights. Netflix’s library of movies and TV shows is much, much smaller in a lot of countries in Europe and other regions compared to the U.S., which is a shame. Some try to get around this restriction with a VPN, but not all of them work since Netflix is working hard on blocking them.
Hulu vs Netflix: Plans and pricing
Netflix offers three subscription plans: Basic, Standard, and Premium. The first one will set you back $9 per month and lets you watch as many shows and movies you want. However, you can only stream them in SD quality and on one device at a time. The Standard plan, which comes in at $13 per month, is a much better option for most people, as the resolution gets bumped up to HD and you can stream on two devices at the same time. If you want to stream content in 4K and on as many as four devices at the same time, you’ll have to go with the Premium plan that costs $16 per month. All three plans offer a 30-day free trial, are ad-free, and let you download content for offline use.
Hulu’s also has three plans in its lineup, but they are quite different from Netflix’s offering. The cheapest one comes in at just $6 per month and gives you unlimited access to Hulu’s content library. However, it’s ad-supported, which means your shows will be interrupted by commercials. If you can’t stand those pesky commercials, the ad-free plan is a better but more expensive option — it costs $12 per month.
The third plan is the most expensive one and, in addition to Hulu’s a content library (ad-supported), also includes access to more than 60 live TV channels, which is something Netflix does not offer. The plan will set you back $45 per month.
The Hulu and Hulu (no ads) plans only allow one stream per account. The Hulu + Live TV plan bumps it up to two streams and also has an option called “Unlimited streams,” which lets you watch content simultaneously on any number of devices connected to your home network and three mobile devices while you’re on the go for an extra $10 per month.
You can further customize every Hulu plan with add-ons that give you access to additional, premium content. The options available include:
- Cinemax — $10 per month
- Showtime — $11 per month
- Starz — $9 per month
- HBO — $15 per month
Streaming quality an all Hulu plans tops out at 1080p, so you don’t get 4K resolution like with Netflix’s most expensive plan. You also can’t download content to watch it offline. The service is offering a 30-day free trial for the Hulu and Hulu (no ads) plans and a seven-day free trial for the more expensive Hulu + Live TV plan. You also get a seven-day free trial for the add-ons mentioned above.
So, which one is right for you?
Which of the two streaming services to subscribe to comes down to personal preference. Netflix has more (and arguably better) original content, offers 4K resolution (high-end plan only), and is more generous in terms of how many devices you can watch content on at the same time. It also lets you download movies and TV shows on your mobile device for offline viewing.
Hulu, on the other hand, is a better option if you’re looking for popular network TV shows, with some episodes being available 24 hours after airing on TV. It’s cheaper than Netflix, with the entry-level plan offering the most savings, but it’s ad-supported. Hulu also gives you the option of additional content through add-ons and access to live TV channels, all of which you can access under one roof.
You get to decide the winner in the Hulu vs Netflix battle.
Both services have their pros and cons, so the best thing to do is to try them out both. They both offer free trials, allowing you to check out the content on offer and test out the video quality along with other features without spending a dime. After the testing period is complete, you’ll have a better idea of which service offers more value for you.
Also, keep in mind that you can cancel your Hulu or Netflix account any time with just a few clicks. So if you ever get tired of one service for whatever reason, you can switch over to the other one within minutes. Hell, you can go back and forth every month if that’s your thing. I regularly switch between different streaming services depending on the content I want to watch. A lot of the shows on Netflix aren’t available on Hulu and vice versa, so moving from one service to the other gives you the chance to discover new content.
Don’t miss: The 10 best documentaries on Netflix
Which streaming service do you think comes out on top in the Hulu vs Netflix battle and why? Let us know in the comments!