Netflix vs Hulu Plus: The answer depends on your streaming TV needs

Smart TVs, set-top-boxes like the Roku, and gaming consoles like the Wii and XBox do more than their original intended purpose. Besides standard TV watching, Smart TVs like the Samsung line, pull in TV, video, and music content from the web interfaced using the in-built apps. In a similar fashion, gaming consoles bring more than just gaming to the entertainment menu. And while it might have been called the "Netflix-box" in days past, that title doesn't do the Roku any justice at all in today's world.

View attachment 2507 Streaming video, audio, and gaming content from any Internet connected device is becoming standard, and to today's generation it is "expected" and is no longer considered "cool," as it is the default way they consume entertainment.

With many streaming services available, free and paid, two primarily stand out from the pack at present and that is Netflix and Hulu Plus. Netflix currently boasts almost a third of all U.S. Internet traffic during peak times and is arguably the best of the best. Whether that is thanks to the same reason that Microsoft Windows is on more computers than other "better" Operating Systems is as much a matter of opinion as is which TV streaming video-on-demand service ranks number one.

Comparing Netflix and Hulu Plus

On price point alone, neither stand out from each other. The cost is less than $10 per month for each service, a price that many subscribers are more than happy to pay. In fact, there are many people that subscribe to both services to get access to overlapping content, and still have lower TV bills than cable and satellite TV subscribers.

View attachment 2508 As far as supported devices go, both Netflix and Hulu Plus are being streamed on a great deal of devices. It used to be that Netflix reigned supreme in this area, being the default app on devices such as the Roku, but other providers including Hulu Plus are also brands seen on many Internet connected devices.

From high def television sets with smart capabilities, to set-top-boxes, to gaming consoles, to DVR boxes, to Blu-ray players, and of course smartphones, handhelds, computers and more, these apps can be found and used at different times for an almost seamless experience between devices.

In the mobile world it isn't much different, both services have a huge presence. While there are hiccups and frustrations with some of the mobile apps depending on device, speed and quality of video, plus content discovery are among the many plusses for both services. Even video playback for Netflix and Hulu Plus content over Wi-Fi or streaming over LTE, 4G and 3G are done with very few issues.

There are currently no plans announced for either company to have apps available for the latest Blackberry, but they do have a presence on Android, iOS and Windows 8 devices. Even the Nook tablet and Kindle have subscribers playing content from Hulu Plus and Netflix.

In the category of overall quality of audio and video, Netflix Instant is often declared the winner.

Netflix has Super HD and 3D content available to subscribers that belong to ISP's that are part of Netflix's Content Distribution Network 'Open Connect.'

Fast connections will gain access to 1080p quality content as well with Netflix while Hulu Plus is currently limited to a 720p maximum.

That's video, but as for audio, Netflix offers Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 encoding on most content, and even 7.1 encoding on other select titles. Even though many network television shows offer 5.1 surround sound during original broadcasting, Hulu Plus is limited to stereo sound.

Another area where Netflix shines is in the amount of content available to subscribers. If looking at just the amount and quality of content, Netflix certainly has more value over Hulu Plus.

With that said, the type of content that is available on Hulu Plus is largely different than that of Netflix, which is one reason many people opt in to both services. Let's not forget Netflix's ongoing effort to provide original and exclusive content to it's subscribers. Hulu Plus has its share of original content as well.

In terms of getting content in a timely manner, Netflix is almost laughable. Hulu Plus is the provider to go with for those that want to watch their favorite TV shows within days (or sometimes just one day) after being aired. Some people still visit Torrent sites that offer shows often within hours after airing, but Hulu Plus is the choice for good clean honest TV content.

Netflix will offer an entire season of a show at a time but only after the new season begins. That could be as far off as 3 months to a year or more depending on the agreement that Netflix has with the studio the show was created by.

Netflix also wins when considering that Hulu Plus requires users to sit through commercials. Netflix also boasts more titles that have subtitles. Both Netflix and Hulu Plus have some parental control options to block certain titles from the kids.

Who Wins? Netflix or Hulu Plus?

While the above comparison of Hulu Plus vs. Netflix seems to really side with Netflix, it really boils down to what you want to watch. As stated, many people subscribe to both services because of the differing types of content available.

If watching the latest TV shows (legitmately) shortly after they air is of importance to you, then Hulu Plus is a good choice, otherwise Netflix or both services might be the best option. Considering the Netflix and Hulu Plus originals, depending on which ones appeal to you most, could seal the decision. But considering how agressive Netflix is in providing good quality content, without commercials, they get my subscriber dollars. I just pause the subscription during times that I don't watch a lot of TV.


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