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Hulu Plus vs Netflix

After cutting cable and abandoning monthly bills like a bunch of rotten bananas, the idea of subscribing to an Internet TV service might seem like a massive step backwards. After all, between YouTube, Hulu and independent sites like Rev3, you can find more totally free content on the Web than the hours in your day will ever support. But when strongman training videos, The Daily Show and AnimeTV get stale, you’ll still be left craving the grade-A content cable TV used to spoon feed you every day.

Unless you have a soft spot for the skull and crossbones – as well as the occasional virus – Netflix is currently the most popular way to legally stream a vast library of popular TV shows and movies directly to your computer or television. As of Tuesday, Hulu has stepped up its game with Hulu Plus, a premium subscription service that will open access to the vast back archives of popular shows that have presently disappeared from free availability due to licensing.

Which should the cash-strapped-but-savvy TV enthusiast reach for? Let’s take a point-by-point breakdown of what we know so far.


Winner: Netflix

At present, a monthly Netflix subscription with included free streaming costs $8.99 a month. Hulu has announced that Hulu Plus will charge $9.99 a month. Netflix clearly has the upper hand, but put in perspective, it’s almost a wash. While an extra dollar every month might deprive you of four gumballs, an item off the McDonald’s value menu, or a fine selection from the Dollar Store, we suspect the difference still won’t make much of a real difference to consumers who can already afford a monthly Internet bill, big-screen TVs and Blu-ray players. Frankly, both look like a steal compared to real cable and satellite TV packages.

Supported Devices

Winner: Netflix

Both Netflix and Hulu Plus will let you grab a quick episode of The Office on your 12-inch laptop screen at work, but what happens when you want to tap into it on the 42-incher in your living room, or on the road? You’ll need hardware that supports your subscription service of choice. Here’s an overview of how each service breaks down.





Apple iPad

Apple iPhone

Internet-enabled TVs

Internet-enabled Blu-ray players

Set-top boxes

Xbox 360

PlayStation 3

Nintendo Wii

Obviously, Netflix’s head start has given it broader support across more hardware, including set-top boxes like the Roku streaming player, WD TV Live Plus HD Media Player, and TiVo HD XL. More significant are the two most popular consoles on the market missing from Hulu Plus: the Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Xbox 360. However, Hulu Plus does have an iPhone app in its favor. But Netflix’s advantage gets even more obvious if you take a more granular look at any given category. With years of streaming under its belt, Netflix has amassed huge support for its service from hardware providers in every category. Want a Netflix-enabled Blu-ray player? You can look at models from Insignia, LG, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Vizio, and Sony. Look for one that supports Hulu Plus, and you’re stuck with just Samsung, Vizo and Sony.

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