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Hulu vs Netflix: which TV streaming platform do you choose?

(Image credit: Netflix)

Hulu or Netflix? Netflix or Hulu? In an increasingly crowded TV streaming market, it’s harder than ever to suss out exactly what each platform does differently, and which one might be best suited to your own tastes, needs, and budget. Each has different shows and films to choose from, after all.

This question will only get harder with the launch of Apple TV Plus and Disney Plus in 2019 – especially since the latter will offer some tempting bundles with Hulu and ESPN+ subscriptions.

But if you’re looking to sign up to either Netflix or Hulu – or thinking of making the jump from one to the other – we’ve got everything you need to make that terrifying decision that little bit easier. Spending money is stressful, ok?

Hulu vs Netflix: basic overview

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Both Hulu and Netflix are TV streaming platforms, with content libraries packed with TV shows, and films, and documentaries. Both are accessible through either browsers or dedicated apps on mobile, PC or consoles, with a lot of possible portals for beginning your streaming journey.

Both offer a number of newly-produced shows alongside older classic sitcoms and TV series, and aim for a broad selection to attract viewers. Hulu is also majority-owned by Disney, with signs of synergy between Hulu and the Disney Plus platform already visible.

Netflix is the closest thing we have to a ‘default’ TV streaming service, with over 140 million subscribers worldwide – though that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the right option for you.

Hulu vs Netflix availability

Hulu is technically only available in the US, though some of you may have considered a Hulu VPN to access it from other territories. Netflix, on the other hand, streams to over 190 countries, including the US, UK, and Australia.

Hulu vs Netflix pricing plans

netflix

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Price is always an important consideration, especially given that platforms like these are prone to hiking up subscription costs now and then. But Hulu and Netflix handle their subscription plans somewhat differently.

Netflix has a three-tier pricing structure, from the $8.99 per month Basic Plan with SD streaming for one user, and $12.99 per month Standard Plan for HD streaming for two simultaneous users, to the $15.99 per month Premium plan for 4K HDR streams and four simultaneous users. All Netflix plans are ad-free.

Hulu offers 4K HDR streaming on even its cheapest pricing plan, which will cost you $5.99. To remove ads, however, you’ll need to bump that up to $11.99 per month (and you’ll still get them on a handful of shows, due to rights issues). Both plans only allow for a single user at a time, too.

Hulu has various upgrade and bundle options for including live TV or content from other services like HBO – you can see the whole list in our Hulu review – making for a truly versatile payment structure. When Disney Plus launches in November 2019, there will also be a Disney Plus / Hulu / ESPN+ bundle for only $12.99 a month.

There's also Hulu with Live TV that can act as an alternative to cable for $44.99 per month if you want to cut the cord without losing the traditional channel setup.

Want more information on the costs of Disney Plus? Make sure you check out our Disney Plus price guide.

Hulu vs Netflix features and user interface

(Image credit: Hulu)

While Hulu has more flexibility in add-on content bundles, though, Netflix is a clear winner for the ease of its interface and user-friendly features.

To start, Netflix is a lot more lax about allowing various users to stream at once, if you’re on anything higher than the Basic Plan. You also have the option to download shows for offline viewing – highly convenient for watching on the go, say, while commuting to work, when you won’t have reliable internet.

Hulu’s lack of offline viewing is still a major issue – despite promising the feature as far back as 2017 – and something we hope it will amend soon.

Hulu vs Netflix content

Stranger Things is just one of Netflix's high-profile exclusives

Stranger Things is just one of Netflix's high-profile exclusives

(Image credit: Netflix)

As you’ll be using these services primarily for the TV shows and films in each library, it’s important to compare what each one offers.

Netflix has around 8,000 titles, ranging from hard-hitting documentaries and biopics to some of the biggest sitcoms and TV series available to watch today. Netflix Originals like Bojack Horseman, Glow, When They See Us, Russian Doll, Stranger Things and Orange is the New Black are all exclusive to the service, but the platform also licenses classic shows like Seinfeld and The Office. There’s a huge range of content, even if a lot of it – outside of the big hitters mentioned – will be missable or not relevant to your tastes. Who has time to watch 8,000 Netflix series and films?

Hulu has close relationships with ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox, streaming big-name shows from each network the day after they premiere. There’s also plenty of content from the likes of Bravo, Comedy Central, and FX and a large back catalogue. Notable shows include Saturday Night Live, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Marvel’s Runaways. 

The breadth may be more limited than Netflix, but there’s a lot of content you won’t get on Netflix either – including a host of anime titles from Funimation, though there are better options for the best anime streaming service.

Takeaway

(Image credit: The Handmaid's Tale / Hulu)

Both Hulu and Netflix offer a lot to the average subscriber – not least a wide array of shows on demand, and tiered pricing to cater to different budgets.

It’s a shame that Hulu still won’t support offline viewing, as it would be a highly convenient feature that Netflix and Amazon Prime Video both offer to their subscribers.

However, as things currently stand, Netflix wins on quantity thanks to its number of award-winning shows. The counterpoint here is that Hulu has more of the shows and channels you want – especially live TV – and could offer a better value when the upcoming Hulu / Disney Plus / ESPN+ bundle becomes available later this year.