Netflix vs. Hulu Plus: The Showdown

To legally view those 90s/early-2000s movies we’ve been meaning to watch, or the latest episode of “30 Rock,” paying a fairly small fee seems worth it. And since it’s gotten nearly impossible to find those notoriously reliable-yet-sketchy illegal websites to stream videos for free, paying $7.99 for Netflix or Hulu Plus seems like the next best alternative.

Although neither website’s library is close to being satisfactory, there are some crucial factors to help decide which one better suits your guilty movie or TV show pleasures.

Remember when Hulu became popular for being the sole host of “SNL” clips way back in the day? When it comes to content, Hulu Plus provides more recent television shows and series’, including “The Daily Show,” “Modern Family” and almost anything in between. As a joint venture of NBCUniversal, Fox Entertainment Group and Disney ABC Television, Hulu became available to the U.S. in 2008. Now, Hulu Plus, which launched in 2010, boasts an more expansive library with full seasons and more episodes.

However, free Hulu and Hulu Plus seem to share the same movie library, which only provides about 2,800 movies. To name a few, these include about 440 comedies (including only two cult comedies and 20 romantic comedies) as well as 360 action movies. Hulu Plus, however, provides Criterion Collection films, which include gems like “The Three Stooges” and some Chaplin films in the midst of ever-boring movies that are probably required for your Tisch class. Although the movies are overall weak, avid TV aficionados should stick with Hulu Plus for the most up-to-date shows.

Netflix prides itself on offering an extremely wide variety of movies. Although the exact amount of instant watch movies is unclear, there are over 100,000 titles on DVD, which are available through a different $7.99 per month plan (that only sends DVDs one-by-one via snail mail).

In comparison to the Hulu movie library, Netflix provides 110 cult comedy movies and 14 teen comedies, which Hulu Plus doesn’t even have a category for. The epitome of Netflix’s library lies in the content of these teen comedies. The genre includes unpopular sequels such as “Bring It On Again,” “Legally Blondes,” and “Grease 2,” which all replace the famous star roles with low-budget, C-list actors. Netflix doesn’t even have the original, better version of these movies! But among the never-ending vortex that is the Netflix movie library, you’re bound to find a solid amount of movies worthy of that $7.99 fee.

The problem with Netflix is that its TV show selections are such a tease. The site usually only provides the first one or two seasons of a show, even if the show is already on the fifth season. Then, it seems like customers would switch over to Hulu to watch the rest of the seasons.

Netflix and Hulu are the temporary solution to the ever-changing film industry. Both video providers have their faults, so a perfect video streaming website that contains every TV show and movie must prevail in the near future. Until then, choose which website fits your preferences, or you’ll have to settle with iTunes rentals or finding a nearby Redbox kiosk that rents $1 to $3 movies.

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    16 Comments

  1. Kaitlin Kelly says

    Major downside to Hulu Plus: it doesn’t play on any of my devices. My tablet? Nope. My phone? Nope. When I’m at the gym, I can’t watch anything on Hulu Plus, which is pretty lame for a paid service. At least with Netflix I can rewatch episodes of Battlestar Galactica on my tablet whenever I feel like it, wherever there’s wifi. So for me, Netflix wins.

  2. Constance Bailey says

    I have had both Netflix and Hulu Plus streaming on my Wii for the past month. They both balance each other out. But after finding out that Netflix supports SOPA my fiance and I have decided to cancel them. Paying an extra $7.99 a month for the few new releases that are good just isn’t worth supporting their cause.

    Plus, I see Hulu expanding rapidly compared to Netflix.

  3. John Washington says

    Too bad you can’t view all regular Hulu titles on Hulu plus. You would think you can because you’re paying for a premium membership but you can forget it. For instance, “30 rock” and “rescue me” can only be seen on your computer and not on other devices such as your Xbox or Ipad because of licensing issues…sucks!

    ..and whats up with Hulu not supporting any Samsung Android mobile devices..I mean none whatsoever yet it supports every other Android manufacturer especially HTC. It’s not like there’s only one or two different Android devices out there made by Samsung. They need to get it together.

    Huge Suggestion: Let Netflix take over the movie streaming industry. Hulu should just focus all of there attention and financial resources toward what their best at…..and that’s delivering the most expansive library of TV episodes and series the world has never seen.

  4. Kei Lani says

    NETFLIX does NOT support SOPA. Make sure everyone does their research before listening to rumours.

    Netflix Has NOT Formed a Pro-Sopa Super-PAC – Forbes has an article confirming this rumour.

    Thanks for the article. I was debating if I should drop NETFLIX for HULU PLUS because I found out about them losing STARZ contract.

    But I also notice many people who cannot get HULU PLUS on their phone, compatiblity issues and then the commercials.

    So far this contract issue has no effects on me so why fix something that isn’t broken right. I like NETFLIX for the time being and will just keep it for now. I don’t seem to have that much time on my hands on as everyone else. I mean who has time to watch 10,000 tv shows/movies anyways?? When I run out of stuff to watch on NETFLIX, then maybe I will make the switch but right now I am good.

    THanks!!

  5. Jack Lund says

    SOPA was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, after hearing the story of a young writer in his district of Texas. Karen Ranney, a published author of more than 30 books, was shocked when she was able to find versions of her book online — for free — to anyone! Some sites shared her books because they could make a quick buck off of her work. Others did it simply because they could. One site reads, “Love Karen Ranney’s books – here they are, all thirty of them!” Infuriated, Ranney is fighting back. Each day, she spends over an hour going to pirate sites, mostly Chinese and Russian, taking down dozens of links to her “free” books. She shared her story, and Congressman Lamar Smith was quick to react. According to Smith, the problem now is the number of websites that are based abroad in China and Russia. It is already illegal for websites based in the US to sell or distribute copyrighted goods without the consent of the author. However, when these companies are based overseas, complex legal problems are introduced. The US has no real authority over foreign-based websites, but they still lose billions of dollars due to intellectual property theft. Smith introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) to address this dilemma. The bill specifically targets what it calls “rogue sites,” which are defined as websites that are foreign, and are primarily dedicated to piracy. The US cannot directly take down any website that is not based in the US, so the bill had to get creative. To fight this online theft, an elaborate system has been created. First, a site must be declared to be a “rogue site” through a trial by the Judiciary Committee. After a website has been declared rogue, online advertisement firms, such as Google AdWorks, are barred from selling advertisements on the webpage. Also, in extreme cases, these rogue websites can be hidden in search results from Google and Yahoo. This method of controlling rogue websites that are out of the United States’ jurisdiction, would prove to be very controversial.
    On January 18th, 2012, the internet hysteria index reached an all-time high. People accused the bill of limiting free speech, and accused it of being communistic. Some people even believed that the internet as we know it may not even be there when we wake up the next morning. In fact, when I distributed a survey to my classmates in my history class, not a single respondent favored the bill, and only around a third questioned the validity of their sources. Many thought that extremely popular American sites, like Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube, would be taken down. To anyone who has researched into the actual bill for even just a few minutes, these accusations seem preposterous. Yet still, articles and posts containing this wrong information continue to clog search engines, making it more and more difficult to obtain unbiased information. The public’s perception of the bill grew even cloudier as the misinformation spread like wildfire. On that day in January, millions of people signed anti-SOPA petitions, and Congressmen received thousands of letters from their constituents, urging them to strike down the proposed legislature. The people were simply misinformed, and petrified by the thought of China-level censorship. The fact is that SOPA only targets foreign websites that are primarily dedicated to the unauthorized sale or distribution of copyrighted material. Therefore, rumors of sites like Facebook, Twitter, and others shutting down are completely false because they are neither foreign nor primarily dedicated to piracy. It is quite alarming how uneducated Americans are on this issue.
    The completely inappropriate and baseless protest to this bill brings about some very important questions: How did the public get so misinformed of the nature of the bill? Furthermore, how did the public’s view on free speech become so twisted as to include pirated material on the internet? To be honest, it took me days of research before I could come up with a firm answer. Finally I uncovered that the main culprits behind the chaos on the internet were the large internet companies themselves! Yahoo, PayPal, and most importantly Google, have distorted the truth regarding this issue. Google (among others) makes millions of dollars by directing searchers to rogue sites. In addition, through Google AdWorks, the company makes even more money by selling advertisements on the rogue sites. If SOPA had passed, search engine companies would lose money; so naturally, they fought back. Google encouraged the spread of false information by creating a petition that unfairly criticizes SOPA. Google was able to obtain over three million signatures, and nearly single-handedly forced SOPA to be shelved indefinitely.
    Unfortunately, Google seems to have completely gotten away with this intentional spread of unfair criticism on the subject. With no one pointing a finger at Google, SOPA was shelved, and looks as if it will never be voted on. Fortunately, the idea lives on. Lawmakers are constantly trying to reintroduce similar bills protecting intellectual property. With any luck, one will pass that will securely defend America’s crucial industry of intellectual property.

  6. Christopher Jensen says

    Likely the lowest cost method would be to pay for Nexflix and also use free Hulu. You’ll get plenty of commercial free choices with some of the newer shows. 5 episodes is easy to keep current if you watch it. And then sign up for redbox promos. Sometimes me and my wife can get 5 or more promos in a month between the 2 of us.

    You might need to find a work around if you feel you can only watch things on a larger screen. Such as plug a computer into the TV or something. I’ve seen 3rd party android apps play the free version of Hulu and even work on non-supported devices, so it can still be mobile.

    Either beats the price of paying for TV and still having 1/3 of your time go to commercials. Even though I do, because my rent is manditorily bundled with Cable TV and internet. At least I got those Redbox promos and Free Hulu.

  7. Mike D says

    HULU PLUS gets my vote – I’ve had both services for 5 months now and have chosen to stick with Hulu plus for the sole reason of content. The titles that Netflix gives you is NOT the same collection from mailings. Try typing in the best movies, Batman, Back to the Future, Spaceballs, etc. None of them are there. … for that matter, nothing worth watching is there. Nothing new, anything that is close to new is horrible, like straight to DVD horrible. Use your local Redbox to get new movies and hulu plus for TV shows.

  8. Willard Wright says

    Jack Lund, aside from the fact that Google and other bigwig sites distorted the info, the whole this was created by some agro woman mad that a small handful of people were not buying her books. The truth of the matter is that if we allow the government to regulate the internet then whats to stop them from looking at our Facebook chats? Whats going to stop them from looking at our internet history? If you allow a government the right to change how our search engines are set up then how do you know they wont get rid of stuff they don’t want us to see? Or worse direct us to sites controlled by them. If a website is making money off of other peoples work by selling it or outright handing it to the people it should be taken down yes, but, if I buy a CD and let a friend burn the music onto his MP3 player then isn’t that considered a small form of piracy? Or if I give a new book to my mom after I read it, am I supposed to go to jail because she didn’t pay the author? Honestly there is only about a couple million people trying to torrent. I say trying because 80% don’t know how to. When the new Portal 2 game came out I saw upwards of 50,000 people on T

  9. Willard Wright says

    Jack Lund, aside from the fact that Google and other bigwig sites distorted the info, the whole this was created by some agro woman mad that a small handful of people were not buying her books. The truth of the matter is that if we allow the government to regulate the internet then whats to stop them from looking at our Facebook chats? Whats going to stop them from looking at our internet history? If you allow a government the right to change how our search engines are set up then how do you know they wont get rid of stuff they don’t want us to see? Or worse direct us to sites controlled by them. If a website is making money off of other peoples work by selling it or outright handing it to the people it should be taken down yes, but, if I buy a CD and let a friend burn the music onto his MP3 player then isn’t that considered a small form of piracy? Or if I give a new book to my mom after I read it, am I supposed to go to jail because she didn’t pay the author? Honestly there is only about a couple million people trying to torrent. I say trying because 80% don’t know how to. When the new Portal 2 game came out I saw upwards of 50,000 people on a torrent site, total there was probably a couple hundred thousand that got the copy that way. Even though people were able to obtain a free copy on line Portal 2 sold 3 million copies just two months after release. Honestly we should not condemn the torrent sites that allow normal people to share with one another, but instead the promote ads to buy the actual product. I download all my games first before I buy the hard copy. Except for Diablo 3. I bought that immediately cuz Diablo > WOW.

    Oh and Netflix is way better.

  10. Josh King says

    Alright, I have both Hulu Plus and Netflix. Hulu Plus is GARBAGE, first of all obviously it has commercials! Terrible! Secondly if it has a tv show on it chances are it only has 5 episodes and starts in the most recent season! Netflix atleast has entire seasons on it! No commercials, I’m sorry but that’s awesome. I hate Hulu with a passion, all it’s movies are older than my Grandma!

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