Hulu and Netflix. Two entertainment juggernauts that many regard as the best streaming services to exist. These streamers are the subject of one of the most highly contested debates in the streaming world -- which is the better service?
Those in the Hulu camp might cite the services next day on-air episode offerings or its low-priced plans as points to prove its superiority. And Netflix supporters will offer the service's extensive list of award-winning originals and 203 million subscribers in counting as evidence to support Netflix's claim to the throne.
Regardless of your beliefs, one thing is clear. Netflix and Hulu are top-notch streamers with tons of potential. However, it doesn't hurt to take a closer look at the features and benefits of each of these services in the hopes of crowning a winner. Let's start by comparing the plans offered by each service.
|Plans||Basic: $6/mo. Premium: $12/mo.||Basic: $9/mo. Standard: $14/mo. Premium: $18/mo.|
|Free trial length||7 days||N/A|
|Number of titles/channels||N/A||15,000+|
|Number of simultaneous streams||2||Up to 4|
|Ad-free||Yes w/ Premium||Yes|
Hulu wins when it comes to price, as the service is three dollars cheaper than Netflix's Basic subscription. What's more, Hulu is one of the only remaining "old guard" streamers that still offers new subscribers a free trial before committing to a plan. Netflix discontinued their month-long free trial in 2020, disqualifying them from this race.
However, Netflix takes the title in the number of titles category by default, as Hulu has never actually confirmed the number of titles offered on the service. Although many have speculated that the number is somewhere in the 4,000-5,000 range and includes 43,000+ TV episodes.
Netflix is also the clear winner when it comes to user profiles. Though, it's important to mention here that not all Netflix plans come with four user profiles and you'll have to buy the Netflix Premium plan for $18/mo. if you want to watch the service on multiple screens simultaneously. Let's also not forget that Netflix's Premium is one of the most expensive on-demand streaming service plans in the industry, and three dollars higher than HBO Max's $15/mo.
Netflix is best for movie lovers and families alike. The streamer is home to some of the most acclaimed movies ever made, including Oscar winners Moonlight and Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth. Plus, the service's four simultaneous screens make it easy for the entire family to tune into their favorite titles at once.
Hulu is best for television fanatics. The service features episodes of originals like The Handmaid's Tale and Letterkenny and full seasons of syndicated shows like American Horror Story and Modern Family. You can get these titles and more for just $6/mo. or $12/mo. if you purchase the no ads plan, making Hulu the most affordable option listed.
Hulu's interface is simple and straightforward. Upon launching the service, you'll be greeted by an automated message that reads something along the lines of "just a moment, while we gather what's new." Once the app has loaded, you'll be brought to a screen featuring a carousel of the shows and movies you're currently watching, recommended titles, and content sorted by genre.
Netflix's interface has undergone a few major changes in its existence. All of which have improved the usability and interface of the streamer significantly.
For one, the service offers mini content hubs for those looking to check out a specific kind of movie or show. Let's say you wanted to watch an International film. All you'd have to do is click on "Categories," scroll down till you see the "International" option, and then click it.
We'd also be remiss if I didn't also mention how the streamer's emphasis on simplicity translates to their playback screens as well. While watching Netflix, you won't be bothered by blocky buttons, random static ads, or anything else. You'll have the entire screen free of any distractions and be able to watch your favorite content uninterrupted.
You can make up to six user profiles with Hulu. Each of these profiles will populate with specific content recommendations based on the shows and movies users watch. These recommendations are featured prominently on the homepage of Hulu each time you head to the app.
Hulu users can also save certain programs to their "My Stuff" list to watch for later. This is perfect for anyone looking to set up a queue of content to stream. Or, for users who simply want to weigh their options before deciding what they will watch next.
For Netflix users, personalization is made easy by the service's emphasis on user experience and design. Netflix's efforts have led to the creation of a "Top Picks" section that comes complete with a few recommended titles for you to check out. And a "Watch It Again" category that you can use to rewatch all of your favorite content from the service.
Recently, Netflix also added a new "Play Something" feature to its interface. To access this feature, all you need to do is click on the "Play Something" button located on Netflix's launch screen. Once you've done so, Netflix will automatically begin playing a random title for you to enjoy. This feature is great for trying out new content, or for when you just don't know what to watch.
Currently, Netflix does not offer any add-ons or extras beyond what is included in the streamer's service plans.
Unlike Netflix, Hulu offers a number of add-ons and extras for users to upgrade their subscription. Here are a few you should know about.
HBO Max Add-on: For an additional $15/mo. you can access HBO Max's extensive library of content from Warner Bros. DC, Turner Classic Movies, and more.
Starz Add-on: You can purchase the Starz add-on for $9/mo. to watch hit shows like Power, American Gods, and P-Valley.
ESPN+ Add-on: ESPN+ is one of Hulu's partnered streamers and you can watch ESPN+ content for an additional $6/mo. directly on the Hulu app.
Cinemax Add-on: Valued at $10/mo., this add-on gives you access to Cinemax's library of action flicks and dramas.
Though Hulu is a good fit for most people, it does have its downsides. As mentioned, you can only stream the service on two screens simultaneously. That's the lowest number of simultaneous screens offered by any streaming service. This means that Hulu might not be the best option for families or large households.
Hulu also falters when it comes to add-ons. The service offers a few add-ons that will give you access to premium content from Starz, HBO, and more. But the price tag for these add-ons is often exorbitantly high. In the case of the Starz add-on, for example, you'll pay an additional $9/mo. to access this premium network on your Hulu account. That's nearly twice as much as the cost of a basic Hulu subscription.
The biggest drawback with a Netflix account is its $9/mo. price tag. This is a steep price to pay for anyone, and that's just for the Basic plan. When you consider the fact that the Premium plan will cost you $15/mo., it becomes clear that despite its popularity, Netflix is a costly service.
The other problem with Netflix lies in its content library. Because the service has to wait months and sometimes years before they add on-air shows and movies to their library, the service's selection of titles is almost always outdated. This may not be a problem for some users, but for those wanting to watch the latest episode of their favorite show, this can be a major issue.
It's difficult to make a true assessment here. What one service may lack, the other has in bulk. And it could be argued that both Netflix and Hulu are equally deserving of the "best streaming service" honorific. But since you've made it this far, we feel inclined to give you a definitive answer.
With that being said, Hulu is the winner here. The service secured the crown by a very narrow margin, but when you consider the service's price, personalization, and content it rises to the top as a close winner. However, the hope isn't that you'll choose Hulu over Netflix now. Rather, you'll have a better understanding of how these two services compare and contrast--many of us subscribe to both.