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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.


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.



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.


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.


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, 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


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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  • CleanuptheInternet

    Informative. Rickswansson should be blocked due to offensively, disgusting comments.

  • Stanley McKinley

    I sighned up for hulu a month ago, paid by cc. How do I get movie list?

  • Sunny

    I love Netflix. Hulu can die, lol. Sorry, but I don’t think I should have to pay for effing ads. Their ads don’t refresh, and I have to watch twice the amount just for a twenty minute episode. Sorry, Hulu, but Netflix is the digg. I can wait for my favorite shows, or I can just buy them. I’m okay with that. But I’m not okay with watching twice the ads compared to zero. The quality on Netflix is excellent; Hulu Plus is okay, but sadly pixelated. At least if they were going to make me click and click to watch an ad, you’d think they’d actually show something I’d be interested in. So much for clicking no on and same ad a gazillion times….

  • I tried Hulu Plus with a free trial promo. I cancelled before that trial was up. The ads are just way too much. Why would I pay to watch ads when I can pay the exact same amount on Netflix with no ads? I think there’s a reason why Netflix has 10x as many subscribers.

  • jaysomniac

    Hulu Plus has ads (just as many as free Hulu), current episodes (not even entire seasons) of hit shows (many do not have past seasons available), and some content can only be delivered via the computer. (White Collar, Sons of Anarchy, and The Americans, for example, cannot be viewed on a third party device). Many of the thousands of shows available seem to be Anime (if you’re into that, more power to you).

    Netflix has no ads, full seasons/careers of many shows (minus the current), and all shows can be viewed on all supported 3rd party devices. It also has a broader selection of movies and tv shows.

    • Tim Koupe

      That’s silly, when you pay over a hundred bucks for cable you’re *still* paying for ads. How do you not realize that? Now you can pay 8 bucks for ads, instead of over a hundred.

  • I’ve made this easy…I subscribe to both Hulu Plus and Netflix….but if I had to choose one, I’d choose Netflix.

  • Joshy

    I usually only watch a little TV a night because I work so much and I would much rather watch Netflix over Hulu simply because there are no ads. I’m subscribed to Netflix and that’s the only one I’ll be subscribed to until Hulu removes it’s ads. Only reason I use Hulu is to watch things that Netflix doesn’t have (like up to date seasons).

  • mickspic

    SO, the only difference in the free Hulu and the $7.99 Hulu Plus, is the fact I can stream shows to my smart phone & IPad with the Plus ?

    • William Waltman

      No. You get access to a LOT more shows with hulu plus, and a lot more content of the same shows. Hulu sucks. Hulu Plus is tolerable.

    • Dana Bowley

      You can also stream to TV with a gaming console like xbox or wii.

  • I’m a Netflix subscriber. Checked Hulu for TV stuff I’ve missed but they don’t have past seasons. After reading comments here, I won’t be using Hulu. Not interested in ads. I can watch current eps of many shows on the network websites. HBOGO is great. I’m doing a GOT marathon from beginning as a new viewer. Hulu not for me. Not now, anyway

    • Regina Abraham

      What’s the price for HBOGO I’M A GOT FAN

      • Free to hbo subscribers.

        • Hankers

          as in, you’ve already got to have some type of cable package (i.e. comcast, 🙁 dish, direct tv, etc). it’s quite disingenuous to say ‘free’ when typical cable packages with HBO included are $150.00 +/mo. Now I’ve “HEARD” you can obtain log-in credentials of a current cable subscriber & watch HBO_GO via tablets or internet but one cannot “cast” using Chromecast or stream to a televisions without appropriate hardware (as far as I know). just wanted to be as informative to people as I can. 🙂

  • bubblyfarts

    I like to come home and watch alot of TV! :D~~~ thank you paycheck!

  • Living in GA

    I just subscribed to Netflix with the intent of watching the first three seasons of Downton Abbey. They only have season 1 even though 2 and 3 are out on DVD. Then I went to watch the first three season of Sherlock and found the same thing. I don’t want to pay to watch ads but I really am dissappointed with Netflix. Seems like there is no clear winner.

    • anna1983

      Amazon Prime video has seasons 2 and 3 of downtown abbey. I have netflx and Amazon Prime- works out great. I get the free shipping through Amazon Prime, the Kindle Lending library and the free TV content (which is also ad free like netflix)

      • Ike Hockey

        It sounds like from the comments, that Hulu is not very usable. Since Netflix doesn’t have current tv series, you mention Amazon Prime. But if I follow and want to watch the latest tv series like Law and order, family guy, simpsons, grim, the middle, modern family, etc. won’t I have to pay 1.99 an episode? If I watch these show every week, I don’t see how this is cheaper than cable?

  • Ugh, i just got huluplus for the new seasons of bones, but honestly, ads are getting in the way, where it turns me off to watch the series now. I was so hooked on to the show, but those adds is what turns me off from watching them. :/ Netflix for the win, guess i rather just wait till they release the seasons. Guess i don’t have any other choice.

  • Dustin

    These ads are driving me NUTS I’m going back to netflix

  • I have Netflix and Hulu. Because I’m more interested in current things, I’ve been using Hulu far more than Netflix — up until the past month when the service just got intolerably bad. It takes Hulu an average of 10 minutes to load an episode. So now I watch _Community_, _Daily Show_, and _Colbert_ on Hulu, and otherwise I just find something I like on Netflix. Hulu has always had substandard service: long load times, freezing, choppy playback, etc. And it as time goes by it tends to get a little bit better, then sink to an unwatchable level for about three or four weeks, then maybe climb back up to mediocre again. I’d say you can’t really expect the best quality for $7.99/mo. but that’s what Netflix costs and it’s far better. Since I’m down to three shows on Hulu that I watch, I’m just going to cancel and watch those on the internet. Good riddance, Hulu Plus!

  • Greg

    I subscribe to Netflix and Amazon Prime. I use PlayOn and Plex, both of which allow streaming of free Hulu to Rokus. I also have a Vudu account for content I can’t get elsewhere (free subscription, but you must either always rent or purchase the content). Honestly, I’d probably pay for Hulu Plus if they had a white list filter so that I could restrict the programs which my kids can stream. While money was a factor, the main reason I cancelled cable was to have more control over what comes into my house. Netflix, Amazon and Vudu all support filtering by rating. Hulu Plus has no real filter options (other than saying the primary subscriber is under 17). Really, how cheesy and clunky is that? This lack of filtering tells me Hulu really isn’t serious about providing a competitive product for families.

  • dare2be

    I still have a Hulu account even though I’ve exhausted much of the content I watch. Their account hold feature is great, I can put the account on hold for up to 12 weeks, have a marathon watch session over a weekend, and then put it back on hold. I’ve paid $7.99 3 times in the last 2 years, while getting all episodes of Picket Fences, almost 100 eps of Evening at the Improv, and other old shows not found anywhere else. I usually use it as a backup without much expenditure.

    I just wish all of these streaming services had an easier interface for discovering new content and browsing existing available content.

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  • kaywc

    my hulu plus keeps stopping, the only way to keep it running is hit the mouse and move it around??

  • TT

    People, DO NOT allow HuluPlus to double dip the same way we allowed the cable companies to do it! The ONLY reason people initially paid for cable was because it was commercial-free. Then they started getting greedy and collecting from both advertisers AND cable customers. Let’s NOT repeat history and allow this sort of chicanery and greed to continue. Boycott HuluPlus until they are AD-FREE!!

    • Middletown

      thanks, i was on the fence then i read your post. ANd you are right on, back in the 80s that was exactly why we paid the extra money, no ads.

    • moView

      I also tried Hulu Plus, but canceled a week or so into the trial. The frequency of advert interruption is unbearable, and an insult when you are (will be) paying for the service.

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  • Guest

    Netflix does not support Samsung Tablets (and many other tablets and phones) while Hulu Plus does. Netflix works great on laptops, TV and some other mobile devices. Make sure you check first.

    • Sweetie.S

      Netflix works awsome on my Samsung Galaxy 2 10.1, It really comes in handy for my 3yr old to watch movies while were on the go, add free. I love my Netflix at home or on thr go.

  • lolo

    well i cut the cord last month..gave Dish the boot. I signed up for Amazon prime and netflix. I l started watching season 1 of “once upon a time” on netflix and that season is from 2011. But Netflix didnt have season 2. I found the season 2 episodes on Huluplus, so i got the free trial. Yes the commericals are annoying, but hey i had to watch commercials on Dish too and that cost me alot more. So the option is to either watch it with commercials or not at all. For now i will put up with the commericals. I really enjoy the show, and currently there are no other options to watch it. huluplus does have more “current” tv shows then netflix, but netflix has more movies. I also have the mohu leaf ultimate indoor antenna for live tv which works great. i will see within the next couple of months which services fits my needs and is worth keeping and which ones are not.

  • Amaryllis

    I just got a new LG smart tv and decided to give Netflix and Hulu a try. Netflix is definitely worth the money with hundreds of movies I want to watch. I was stunned when I subscribed to Hulu that there were commercials. WTF?? I will be canceling my subscription the minute I’m done writing this!

  • Ape

    I really don’t care about the ads…they are a minute which is way shorter than regular television…and most of the ads are for other hulu shows and the ads turned me on to some hulu exclusives that I otherwise would not have noticed. I agree with the bad service…sometimes I have to pause and push play to get it to go. And for the shows I watch, I want to watch current things. And there are still plenty of shows that have all the seasons…so I don’t know what people are talking about here. I think I’m going to double dip and get netflix for additional variety. 16 dollars a month for both is still far cheaper than cable. As a side note: I hate that HBO won’t get with it.

    • mike

      If what you’re watching pauses frequently you can adjust the video quality from 3.2 mb/s all the down to 650 kb/s. It’s just as likely that your internet provider is to blame for choppy playback. So slowing down the download eliminates the problem…for me at least.

  • Anthony Genco

    My wife and I cut the cord three years ago and have never looked back. I build my own HTPC’s designed for the best picture and sound at the lowest possible price. Every two to three years I find new stock video boards and mother boards which will increase our viewing pleasure on the ever changing flat screen televisions. We do not suffer at all with the loss of ‘newness’ in the episodes aired ota or weekly on a cable-type service. Much is being said about the avalanche of ads on Hulu and Hulu Plus. The writers need to add the minutes expended on these ads and compare that to the chunk wiped out in broadcasting ota or on cable. There is a great difference.
    We subscribe to Hulu Plus and Netflix. I like Netflix for the movies, of course; but both allow us to see ‘favorite’ tv shows on demand when we want. And let’s not forget the exorbitant fees charged for dozens of channels which will never be watched. We are not under the thumb of a cable or satellite service. We are not missing anything. And don’t forget that, “if I haven’t seen it, it’s new to me”.

  • JazzAzz

    I’d cut the cord in a second if it was not for my Wife loving Live sports, especially the NBA, necessitating channels like NBATV, ESPN, TNT, etc. etc. Also now getting into football & baseball, thanks to our sports nut son. I could care less. If there was a way to get those otherwise, like on a device like Roku, whatever, I’d fire the provider I have, which happens to be DishNet.

  • Alix

    My husband and I are in our early 20’s. With technology advancing as often as it does; we find ourselves always on either our tablets, or smart phones. We subscribe to both Hulu plus and Netflix and do not have service with cable companies. We own 2 Rokus, to stream both of these “channels” one for our living room, and the other for our bedroom. We’ve been “cable free” for nearly 3 years now. Although our parents, & other adults from “older” generations still have service with satellite companies for cable. They have thought about cutting the cord as well, since they subscribe to Netflix. It seems to me, that as a cheaper option, and nearly as good as cable, these services are up & coming; and cable, will become archaic just as all other past technology. We do wish we had the option to purchase football games; or stream them somehow on our devices. I think more options for this and much more will be on the horizon, as companies find, that more and more people are turning to these alternatives, to view their entertainment.

    • I agree, Alix. I have Netflix and Hulu Plus, and as a result, watch very little cable and almost no network TV. With Netflix in talks with Time Warner Cable to come to cable, and the news this weeks that they have more subscribers than HBO, the smart money is on including Netflix in the mix and copying in the model. Thanks for your comment!

  • natek

    so sick of the ads on Hulu Plus!!

  • jenni

    Seeing these comments make me feel better. I thought it was only me. It’s been a month w/hulu plus and now I can’t even watch it on my TV anymore. It won’t even load. Certain shows aren’t able to come on now because I need to all of a sudden download apps to my browser after this time. What’s really going on?

  • Dave

    Have Netflix and Hulu Plus. I am about to discontinue Hulu due to the obnoxious commercials interrupting our moviesshows. I pay for certain services on the internet for ad-free viewing, downloading, or streaming. As soon as I see an ad, I lose all interest in what I’m watching. Finally got to watch TV (after years of avoiding it) when we got Dish DVR so I can fast-forward through the crap (ads) and love Netflix for the ad-free viewing. If Netflix can do it for $7.99 a month, what is Hulu’s problem? We pay to get ad-free content all over the web. Hulu is a little too money-hungry for my taste. Netflix is the way to go. Yes, the content is out-dated a bit but will eventually be ready for viewing.

    People that pay for Hulu is just handing their money away. They’re already getting more than enough from the monstrous ad companies, might as well go back to cable!!!

  • notDemorRep

    i still can’t pay for hulu plus and still watch advertising. i will stick with netflix and amazon prime until hulu drops the ads. i would say if they ever want to make money and gain members they will need to drop the ads

  • Danielle Gregory

    Very informative article. For those who are still unsure of which to get I have some good insight since I’ve had both for a while. Mainly it depends on what you want. If you want something more like regular TV, with the newest episodes coming out each week i would definitely recommend Hulu Plus. Yes, the adds are annoying, but you wont get new shows anywhere else for that price, definitely not on cable. You can get two weeks free if you sign up here:

    That’s what I did and if you don’t like it you can cancel before the two weeks are up and wont owe anything, but its really cheap anyways at only $7.99 a month.

    Netflix it great for older seasons of shows and all kinds of interesting movies. It’s great cause you can just sit for hours on a lazy day and watch a whole season if you want to. You can sign up here for a month free, $7.99 a month, and cancel at any time as well.

    I personally have both and love them a lot. I don’t have cable, which is four times more expensive than both of these. Plus nothing is ever on TV, but with Hulu and Netflix you can always find something.

    If your getting rid of cable, I would get both.

  • Debbie Ghostley

    I don’t know WTF, can’t watch many of my favorite shows on Hulu anymore, this just happened. Does any one know? I need Hulu Plus now, No thank you very much!!!!!!

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  • hlgaskins

    I have both Hulu and Netflix for all the reason described above. I’ve noticed that Hulu commercials are increasing in length and frequency which could cost them paying customers. Still commercials on Hulu Plus are still a lot shorter than they are on network TV but if the increase it much then they’ll have a hard time asking paying customers to settle.


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