Comparisons between Netflix and Hulu have heated up over the past several months, especially with the addition of a new player, Amazon Video, to the streaming game. With new features, new devices hosting them and a number of grievances in this near cable-less TV era of ours, we can’t think of a better time for a streaming service showdown between the three rivals. Our breakdown of the three heavy hitters — Netflix, Hulu and Amazon — will focus on categories such as user friendliness, binge worthiness, originality and prices in terms of subscription and content.
User Friendliness & Binge Worthiness
With the addition of the new Apple TV, Netflix and its updated interface seem to give people exactly what they want. With its “Recently Watched” and “Recommended for You” categories, users can get where they need to go with fewer clicks and binge out for days without leaving the couch or even clicking any buttons with the addition of Siri. Hulu has updated its layout to match Netflix with its “Shows You Watch” section right up front, but its lagging content almost makes its impossible to be too spread out. The big problem for Amazon is that not only does it not appear as an Apple TV option- well, actually that right there is enough to stop you in your tracks. Its site on Amazon is a little scatterbrained and sloppy, but we don’t need to say much more if Apple made updates specifically with Netflix in mind. Netflix is not only sleek and easily navigable, it’s pretty and has the right kinds of categories for a good spread of its content, helping you find amazing things you didn’t know existed along with seasonally appropriate content.
Amount of Content
There’s only one word for Hulu: “Seinfeld.” We’re convinced this was the biggest acquisition they could’ve made, giving subscribers one single, fairly good reason to choose them over Netflix. Though Hulu is bumping up its quantity of ’90s teen dramas and kids cartoons, it doesn’t seem to be enough to switch people over from Netflix even if they do offer every season of Jerry, George, Kramer, Elaine and their endless catalog of quotes.
While Netflix and Hulu have some overlap between NBC and Fox shows — though Netflix’s movie selection still takes the cake — Hulu has a few choice shows like “Modern Family” to hold them strong while Netflix continues on its content rampage. Amazon Video, on the other hand, has approximately one-third of the amount of selections of Netflix (when it comes to the streaming service; they have hundreds of thousands of titles for customers to rent or purchase), containing many of the titles Netflix already has. While Amazon and Hulu are both growing, Netflix remains on a steady incline as well, pulling in more classic films, telenovelas we won’t watch and full TV series, all commercial free.
Hulu and Amazon each started doing some of their own shows, but that’s nothing compared to the Emmy-worthy series coming out of Netflix. Written and shot in movie standard quality and offered exclusively through Netflix, shows like “House of Cards,” “Bloodline” and “Narcos” are in way higher demand, along with “New Girl”-esque shows like “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” Hulu allows for a Showtime subscription within its app, which serves no convenience outside of just having the Showtime app on Apple TV. Amazon offers its own original content, as well, but outside of the Ron Perlman-led “Hand of God” and Emmy-winning “Transparent,” they have a ways to go to catch up.
Immediate TV Release
While Hulu doesn’t carry nearly the number of shows as Netflix, it does offer new releases the day after they come out, an option Netflix is yet to acquire. This, however, is limited to the number of shows — mostly the popular ABC, Fox and CW shows like “Modern Family,” “Arrow,” “The Last Man on Earth” and “New Girl” — they have access to. Netflix simply has old seasons for popular shows like “The Walking Dead” and “American Horror Story,” which are great for binging but bad for staying caught up before spoilers hit the web. You see, Netflix folks have to wait just before the new seasons start, but then again, anyone with Apple TV can get most shows at the same rate as Hulu through iTunes without having to use a Hulu subscription. But you already knew that, didn’t you?
Streaming & Sound Quality
Amazon and Netflix both have 4K streaming and 5.1 Dolby on select options. Amazon launched titles in HDR quality just this year. However, Netflix’s is available at a higher price, which of course will piss people off since they’re already whining over monthly subscriptions getting bumped up a buck recently. Relax, folks. If you’ve had Netflix, your cost isn’t going up. Stop your bellyaching.
Hulu, however, is still working at stereo quality, which means you’ll have to turn up your TV volume a little higher than you feel comfortable to get the full effect. You’ll blast episodes of “The Mindy Project” with extreme anxiety, or at least more than usual. Seriously though, if you want 10 years-worth of ’90s heartthrobs who are now old, “Beverly Hills 90210” is there from start to finish, so you’ve got that going for you, Hulu lovers.
Winner: Amazon & Netflix
Netflix is the most accessible across all devices — tablet, phone, Apple TV, Smart TV, and everything short of injecting it into your brain — and we know this. We trust this. As it stands, Apple TV and ChromeCast don’t have deals with Amazon Video, meaning if you have a subscription, it’s fairly inconvenient to watch it with all the failed Airplay from your computer to your TV. Either you have a smart TV for that sort of access, you struggle with lags with Airplay, or our personal fave, you watch as much as you can until you lap gets too hot. Amazon does have its Amazon Video app, but who’s watching Amazing Video on their mobile device? Hulu is about as accessible as Netflix, but if you’re going to the place where you have the most to choose from first, you’ll go to Netflix. We love you, Hulu, we swear. It’s just not a close race.
Prices & Trials
Netflix has a $7.99 flat rate for commercial-free streaming, $8.99 for new customers as of late and other services like 4K streaming and DVD delivery for extra costs. Hulu gives folks the basic services for $7.99, but now offers content with no commercials for $11.99. And Amazon Video is lumped in with Amazon Prime, a $99 per year ($8.25/month) subscription that also boasts free two-day delivery for Amazon, along with a music streaming package and better deals for its site. With Amazon, you definitely get more bang for your buck, even if it’s not necessarily related to streaming.
Hulu & Chill?
There’s a reason the latest trend, Netflix & Chill, is just that: a trend. It’s because Netflix is reliable when you want to throw something on that the other person will like while you try and figure out a way into their pants. Netflix has become such a necessity to people’s lives, paired with equal parts ice cream and broken hearts, that they feel safe finding something for everybody there. It’s like Los Angeles: there’s something for everybody there, and it’s all unhealthy. You could say the same for Netflix binging.
Verdict: Netflix wins.
If you had to pick just one, we’d suggest Netflix, but remember that you’re comparing green apples to red apples to those delicious Fuji apples, where each service has a slightly different angle designed to hit a slightly different market. Netflix is king when it comes to content, user friendliness and chilling. It’s probably one of your closest friends right now.
Hulu has the latest releases for many basic cable shows and kids shows right after they air, so you can imagine that many impatient stay-at-home moms who want nothing but the latest shows, sappy ’90s teen dramas and something to distract their kids being crazed for Hulu. But Netflix has some of that share, too. Amazon is simply the cheapest price for the highest quality streaming and unrelated shopping perks. So if you had a remote to your head and had to choose, we say Netflix. But this is America, land of the free and home of the couch potato, so just get all three. While you’re at it, try some free subscriptions you’ll forget to cancel with Showtime, HBO GO and anything else that’ll take your money. Then you’ll have multiple places where you can watch the same things over and over until your life slowly ends. You’ll never be tempted to leave home again.