Hulu Plus vs Netflix on Apple TV

Now that Apple has quietly added Hulu Plus to Apple TV (just reboot your Apple TV and it will be there). You have a choice in streaming TV/Movie Content Providers. I have been a Netflix customer for many years. I became loyal to Netflix on the day I saw the first ad that stated “no late fees!” I was so tired of Blockbuster and Hollywood video constantly charging me if my DVD wasn’t turned in on time.  Yes being late is my responsibility, but watching movies by a certain day of the week didn’t always work for me. The Netflix model was much better. Keep it as long as you want. Those days are behind me. I don’t get DVDs/Blu-rays anymore in the mail. I do however stream Netflix content to my Apple TV and my iPad. Granted, it isn’t the quality of Blu-ray and you don’t have the latest movies to stream right away, but I can usually always find something to watch when I have time to watch. I don’t have to wait for a disc in the mail and I don’t have to return anything either. Yep, I’m a streaming kinda guy now.

Hulu Plus or Netflix

I wasn’t interested in Hulu Plus at all! I didn’t see any advantage over Netflix, but I decided that since it was now built-in to my Apple TV I’d give it a shot. Let’s go through a comparison now.

Hulu Plus on Apple TV
Netflix on Apple TV


Price – Hulu Plus is $7.99/month for unlimited watching and Netflix is $9.99/month for unlimited watching. The different is Hulu Plus still has commercials that you are forced to play before the program starts and usually in the middle of your show. There is no way to skip these ads. Right off the bat I have a problem paying for streaming AND seeing ads too! Netflix also offers plans that will include DVD/Blu-rays too. So for $17.98/month you get unlimited streaming AND 1 Blu-ray at a time (keep as long as you want with no late fees). This is the best of both worlds because you can still get a current movie on Blu-ray and stream everything else. I would have to give the price advantage to Netflix even though it’s $2 more, it doesn’t have ads.

Content – both Netflix and Hulu Plus have thousands of shows and movies, but the Netflix has more! More doesn’t necessarily mean better, but more is more. When you are looking for something to watch, chances are you’re more likely to find something on Netflix. Again Netflix has the advantage here especially if you’re more into movies. I would say that if you are more into TV shows you might like the Hulu Plus experience and content list a little better.

On Apple TV – As far as Apple TV is concerned the experience is about the same between the two services. You can search for shows by name, browse categories and see your recently watched shows.

Going mobile – both Netflix and Hulu Plus have mobile Apps that let you stream content to your iPad or iPhone/iPod touch. I’d call this one a tie.

Take them both for a test spin

Ultimately you will have to compare for yourself. I have no idea what shows or movies that you will be most interested in. For me the winner is Netflix if for no other reason I can’t stand the commercials on Hulu Plus. Luckily both services have trials. Again even when it comes to trails Netflix has the advantage. You can try Netflix for 30 days. You can try Hulu Plus for 1 week!


16 Replies to “Hulu Plus vs Netflix on Apple TV”

  1. Terry, streaming + 1 blu ray is 17.98 / mo. You can get discs only (no streaming) for 9.99.

  2. I find Hulu Plus has notable bandwidth issues. Sometimes it chokes while trying to stream ads, so on top of having to watch ads, your show can be delayed by a slow-loading ad. Another annoyance is that Hulu Plus’s ads can be very repetitive — you may see the same few ads ten times in an evening. (For a while there we literally had a Romney ad followed by an Obama ad or vice versa during every single ad break.)

    That said, I find them to be complementary services. Hulu Plus’s strong suit is current and recent TV shows, while Netflix has older TV shows and movies.

    Unfortunately, Hulu Plus has roughly the same gaps in its lineup as iTunes, e.g. no Mentalist.

    1. That’s because Hulu is owned by ABC/FOX/NBC and The Mentalist is a CBS show and thus will never be on Hulu.

  3. Its too bad Amazon video isn’t mentioned as an alternative. I am so in love with Amazon video with my prime membership, that I use to Roku box and now my PS3 to watch amazon & Hulu. I have become so disgruntled by the lack of quality movies on Netflix, that I am canceling my subscription for good next month.

    1. Amazon video isn’t mentioned as an alternative because it isn’t available on ?tv.

      1. It still would make a good comparison. Amazon is on Roku. For many people, the streaming device decision could be between Roku and Apple TV– or they could have one or the other and want the other one (sorry, convoluted sentence, but I’m sure you get my drift). Roku has Netflix as well as Amazon & Hulu Plus, so at first glance might seem the best choice (certainly the least expensive and works incredibly well). If Amazon really doesn’t add that much, little reason to get the Roku and better to stick with or get Apple TV.

        Conversely (now I’m wading into convolution city), many folks (us included) have Roku–so another column could consider whether we should add an Apple TV or not. Seems redundant, but who knows? We don’t and you would! 🙂


  4. The one thing Hulu Plus has is the Criterion Collection movies which does not have ads. Thats the only reason I have it.

  5. I cut the cord so I get both and it’s STILL far far less than what I paid and BOTH work fine for me. The each have offerings that the other doesn’t.

  6. I did the Hulu Plus 7-day trial, was disappointed it wasn’t longer, but the $7.99 isn’t painful. If you have current network shows that you watch, e.g., Hell’s Kitchen, then Hulu Plus is the way to go–available next day. The Netflix movie catalogue continues to disappoint, but not so much as to cancel–also, I use it as an alternative to iTunes for some TV shows (e.g., older Dr. Who and other Brit shows like Luther). My Panasonic BluRay player has Amazon and Vudu built in. So far, I’m not inclined to Amazon (don’t buy enough to make Prime worth it); and Vudu in HDX doesn’t seem to offer anything that you can’t get through iTunes, and the Vudu rental is more expensive.

    Saying all of that, if you are going to “cut the cord,” then I recommend having Hulu Plus (for current work TV), Netflix, and iTunes. Of course, don’t forget to buy an antenna!

  7. Comparing Hulu Plus and Netflix is like comparing apples and oranges. As noted, in simple terms Hulu has the current stuff while Netflix has the older stuff. I “cut the cord” too, and I am quite happy spending $17/month and an occasional iTunes rental or purchase and savings well over $100/month. The biggest challeenge now for cord cutters is sports. Regardless, I am NOT going back to cable TV. It is great to now have Hulu Plus native on the Apple TV.

    1. They’re both TV streaming services on Apple TV, it’s not really apples and oranges at all.
      More like comparing Granny Smiths to Cox’s Orange Pippins.

  8. Jayt, you could just go for cable lifeline or simple basic– $8-10 in many places and you’d get your sports, plus a TV signal that wouldn’t be messed up by storms, etc. the way OTA can be.

  9. A lot of the streaming issues with Hulu and Hulu + can be resolved by going into the HULU Preferences and selecting the box for assisted downloading, or whatever it is called. It seems to eliminate the hesitation of buffering- you do have to go site by site to enable this selection for Networks and some commercial broadcasters, but it helps.

  10. I tried Hulu and realized I’m losing streaming data to those commercials. That’s the whole reason I pay for a service…. to NOT have commercials. Hulu was history in one day. Waste of time.

  11. I, too, have given up the cable addiction. Netflix is faster but Hulu has some cool shows. I particularly like to watch BBC produced things. $20 a month for both compared to what I use to pay is a huge improvement. I bought a Western Digital TV box on the suggestion of the IT guy at work saying that it worked better than the Apple TV even though we are all mac users. Now I need to buy another for the tv in my office. and when I have guests, can just put that system into the spare bedroom as opposed to having cable wired in there.

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