Netflix vs. Hulu Plus: If you could only have one?

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I’ve been a Netflix subscriber for years and I have also tried a trial subscription to Hulu Plus. The thing that turned me off of Hulu (and still does) is that you pay the monthly fee ($7.99) and yet they still play ads. Also not to mention that during my trial period all the ads were bought out by the presidential candidates of 2012. I just couldn’t take any more. Three years later I’m willing to try Hulu Plus again, but is it worth it? I’d gladly pay more per month to eliminate the ads. Many of you have Hulu, Netflix or both. Tell me why?

What if you could only have one. Which would it be Netflix or Hulu Plus? Also now that HBO Now is coming soon, would you pick HBO over Netflix or Hulu?

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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!

 

My Movie Rental Habits Have Changed to Mostly Streaming

Back in the day I would run over to my local Hollywood Video or Blockbuster video to grab a DVD rental for the evening. I got so tired of both company's insane late fee policies that I switched to Netflix and never looked back. Netflix mails the disc to my house and I can keep it as long as I want. Once they added Blu-ray discs I was totally sold. At one point I was on the 3-Discs-At-Home plan. Then I noticed that they would sit for days and weeks on end before I had a chance to view them. I went all the way down to 1-Disc-At Home. Over the holidays I started looking at all of my home entertainment gadgets and it seems that just about every device I own now (TiVo, Playstation 3, XBox 360, Wii, Apple TV, iPad, etc.) can stream movies from either Amazon, Netflix or iTunes. I also noticed that the one Netflix Blu-ray disc I had at home had been sitting there for weeks. I finally watched it. However, before I sent it back I adjusted my account once again, this time to eliminate the discs altogether.

 

Blu-ray discs are better, but…

There's no debate when it comes to the quality of Blu-ray movies over ANY of the popular streaming technologies. Blu-ray wins in the quality category hands down. However, I've decided that for my regular movie viewing that it's just not important enough to keep getting discs. Here's my rationale: 

  • If I'm really interested in the movie, chances are I'll see it on the big screen in the theaters.
  • If it's just a so so movie, streaming quality is just fine and I get to see it immediately on my schedule right when I'm ready to watch. I don't have to leave the house or wait for the disc to come.
  • If it's a movie that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE and one that I'll want to see more than 3 times then I'll buy the Blu-ray (This is VERY RARE). I think I own maybe 20 Blu-ray discs total.

 

Netflix and iTunes are my top two choices

If a movie is available on Netflix instant streaming, it's a win for me. I can watch it on just about any of my devices. The quality is decent for the most part and it's a part of a monthly fee I'm already paying. If it's not available on Netflix I'll price compare it on Amazon (via the TiVo HD or Premiere XL) or iTunes via the Apple TV.  

While the quality of Blu-ray is better, I just can't get past the convenience of streaming these days with my current schedule. My local Hollywood Video closed its doors two years ago and Blockbuster is barely hanging on. Times have definitely changed.

 

The Devices I prefer to stream on

For iTunes and Netflix I'm really liking the NEW 2nd generation Apple TV. Hands down the best Netflix UI I've seen to date.

For Amazon on Demand, it's definitely the TiVo Premiere XL

For watching on the road, it's the Slingbox Pro HD. It allows me to stream whatever is showing on my TiVo to my laptop, iPad or iPhone.

For some older movies I'll watch via HBO. The problem with HBO is, they are never playing the movie I want to watch when I want to watch it. Sometimes I wonder why I still have HBO as most of my favorite HBO series have all but died?

Lastly I still have one Comcast Cable DVR too. If all else fails I can do a Comcast On Demand viewing.

With the above choices I'm set!

Continue reading “My Movie Rental Habits Have Changed to Mostly Streaming”

What Do We Want From TV?

Google made a lot of noise recently with their announcement about Google TV. See their short concept video here:

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diTpeYoqAhc

 

This got me thinking about how I watch TV now and how much of it is on the computer vs. on my HDTVs. I probably have more vested in TV than the average person. I have multiple HDTVs, multiple TiVo HDs, multiple Apple TVs and a couple of Slingboxes. Yep, I like to get my TV on! The conclusion that I came to after watching Google's video is that while I definitely watch my share of "internet" videos, I don't think that my viewing habits will change all that much with Google TV. Here's my reasoning: when I watch a clip on YouTube, it's primarily because I'm already on my computer and it's an in the moment kind of thing. Someone sent me a link or it was embedded in a website that I was already headed towards. It's also like to be a SHORT clip (YouTube limits the clips to 10 minutes max). Each of my TVs already has either an Apple TV or TiVo HD connected to them (if not both) and both of those devices can view YouTube clips. However, I almost NEVER watch YouTube via those devices. I don't sit down to look for stuff to watch on YouTube or the internet. This might also be due to the fact that unless I specifically hook up a keyboard or run some type of App on my iPhone/iPad that searching with these devices via the onscreen keyboard is a royal pain. So If I sit in front of a HDTV it's usually to watch a longer show and probably one that I've already TiVo'd ahead of time. 

Continue reading “What Do We Want From TV?”