Netflix vs. Hulu

Emma Ritchie '25, Journalist

Streaming services have altered the way we watch television and movies. Most popular television shows are found on Netflix, Hulu, or HBO Max. Netflix, established in 1997, is the most popular of the streaming services, with around 230 million subscribers as of 2023. Hulu is second, with roughly 48 million paying subscribers. Some people have both, but those limited to one had to weigh the pros and cons before subscribing to that service. When subscribing to a streaming service, one must primarily take two things into consideration: cost and content. 

Hulu has two tiers (disregarding their live television option, assuming that the customer has cable): Hulu (Regular) and Hulu (No Ads). Netflix has four tiers, going beyond paying for the service without ads and all the way up to a premium feature. The four Netflix tiers include: Basic with ads, Basic, Standard, and Premium. Their Basic option is the most popular, with 41% of users purchasing it. Hulu’s Regular subscription is $7.99/month and their No Ads tier is $14.99/month. Netflix charges $6.99/month for Basic with ads, $9.99/month for Basic, $15.49/month for Standard, and $19.99/month for Premium. The difference between Basic and Standard is that people who subscribe to the Standard tier can stream on two devices at a time, whereas the Basic tier only allows one person to stream on an account at one time. With premium, the people on the account can stream from four devices at a time, and the quality of their content is better as they have Ultra HD (as opposed to regular HD for the other three tiers). Hulu allows two devices to stream at once on both tiers, but one can purchase an add-on that allows for three devices at once. Hulu has had an ad tier far longer than Netflix, which only added the tier in November of 2022. 

The finance aspect, while important, is a bit dull. The shows and movies are really what grab consumers’ attention. Both Netflix and Hulu have plenty of pre-existing shows and movies and thus are not owned by or specific to the service. So, what makes Netflix and Hulu stand apart from one another if some of the content is on both services and much of it can be found on cable television or rented on demand? Original series and movies from the services. According to IMDb, Netflix’s highest-rated original movies are Marriage Story (2019), All Quiet on the Western Front (2022), and The Irishman (2019). Some of the highest-rated Netflix original television shows include: Black Mirror, Narcos, House of Cards, Mindhunter, and BoJack Horseman. Hulu only began producing its own original movies in 2019, and their highest-rated original film is Palm Springs (2020). However, they have many popular and highly rated original shows including: The Handmaid’s Tale, Normal People, 11.22.63 and The Great. The services add pre-existing shows and movies every month. For example, Hulu has Modern Family, Pretty Little Liars and The O.C. listed as some of their most popular shows. Some popular movies currently on Netflix include: The Dark Knight (2008), Rocky (1976) and Notting Hill (1999). 

Looking exclusively at the prices, if one has a bigger family and is willing to pay for better quality and accessibility on more devices at once, Netflix is a better option. In terms of content, that is entirely subjective. It is up to the customer to decide what is more suitable and entertaining for them.