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2013 Showdown: Netflix vs. Hulu Plus

The era of the infamous cable bundle may be coming to a close as younger consumers opt for alternative solutions to watch their television programing. The nation’s top cable providers, Comcast and Time Warner, boast 22 million and 12 million subscribers, respectively.

What these impressive figures fail to detail is that while cable subscriptions are increasing in the United States, there is also a growing number of customers that are “cutting the cord” with their provider. In the second quarter of 2012 alone, Comcast grossed 138,000 subscribers but over 400,000 ended their service.generic_1_generic

Many younger demographics or fast-paced working professionals are “cord cutting.” Acquiring a cable bundle was once a right of passage for twenty somethings living on their own. The freedom of laying claim to the entire DVR and favorite stations is quite the perk.But with the advent of Netflix and Hulu Plus, consumers have the option to use their computers, gaming consoles, and mobile devices to stream unlimited content for a low flat rate. While there are other locales across the web for streamable content, both Netflix and Hulu offer the greatest array by far.

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Netflix has over 30 million subscribers, while Hulu’s premium service, Hulu Plus just hit the 3 million mark.

Netflix, a public company, has vowed to expand its premium instant streaming service by pledging $5 billion to acquire new content over the next five years. With this promise, it is safe to say that many of the most popular television shows and movies will be made available on Netflix.

Hulu is a joint venture by NBC (NBC Universal), FOX (News Corp), and ABC (Disney). Therefore, Hulu features all of the current season’s television shows from these networks on all computers and mobile devices. In addition, Hulu is experimenting with adding movie titles to its enormous television show collection.

This past year, Hulu’s revenue grew 65% to $695 million compared to last year. But when it comes to purchasing content, Hulu spent almost $500 million dollars. Even with these successes, the company has been losing money and CEO Jason Kilar will be resigning in March.

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Accessibility

Both Netflix and Hulu can be streamed on an assortment of devices such as tablets, smartphones, Blu-Ray players, smart TVs, and gaming consoles. Both services allow for streaming over mobile broadband 3G and 4G networks.

Content

Netflix comes fully stocked with 100,000 streaming options as well as an ever-growing collection of popular movies, and a smattering of television show series, though not usually current seasons.

Hulu is full of current-season episodes of many of the major networks’ shows (Fox, ABC, Comedy Central, BBC America, USA, and The CW). Since Hulu has rights to networks’ current seasons, it is the perfect service to use to catch up on a missed episode while you are on the go.

Price

Netflix costs $7.99 per month and gives you the ability to stream unlimited content from the instant streaming service across all supported devices.

Hulu is free to watch on Hulu.com, but it there is a substantial amount of ads that interrupt your streaming video. The Hulu Plus premium option costs $7.99 per month and gives you access to download the mobile apps, and offers access on gaming consoles. However, there will still be a few ads that will appear even if you have the premium subscription.

The Scoop

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If you are in the mood to cut the cord and part ways with your cable provider, subscribing to both Netflix and Hulu Plus will only set you back $15.98 per month. (That’s about the cost of subscribing to HBO.) For many, this is a significant savings compared to a traditional cable package.

 

If you are in the mood to simply enhance your current cable package, Netflix would be the best option because it has plenty of high quality movie titles that are not usually viewable on a standard cable bundle.

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If you have a busy life and are constantly missing your favorite television shows, Hulu Plus would likely be the most fitting option because of its wide collection of current-season television shows.

Netflix recently captured Disney as its newest content provider. This reportedly costs about $300 million per year for exclusive rights starting at the end of 2016. Hulu has also gained the rights to stream current-season episodes from Nickelodeon and CBS. With this in mind, it is safe to say that in the coming years, both services will be rapidly evolving due to changing content and relationships. 

Are you a Netflix or Hulu Plus subscriber? If not, do you plan to join? Share your experience with either service in the comments section. 

Jared Rosen

Jared is a sophomore advertising major at the Newhouse School of Public Communications and a marketing management major at the Martin J. Whitman School of Management. He is an avid golfer and passionate Boston sports fan. He can be followed on Twitter at @jaredmarc14.

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