In the modern age where streaming is taking over traditional television, the debate on Hulu vs Netflix – or is it Netflix vs Hulu? – is always viable. It's not an easy argument for either side, but there are some clear and distinct reasons you'll want to use one over the other.
It's also worth debating because you deserve to know where your money is best spent.
Netflix has a much larger audience, but Hulu is gaining ground. Early last year, reports surfaced Hulu gained over twice as many subscribers as Netflix, a sign the long-suffering bridesmaid might soon be getting its chance to take center stage. Hulu is also owned by Disney, now, and has a very intriguing bundle option.
But which is better: Hulu, or Netflix? Let's dive in!
Hulu vs Netflix comparison
There are some very direct ways to compare the two streaming services, and quite a few areas where they simply can't compete with one another. The choice won't be easy.
Is it worth it to have Netflix and Hulu?
Hulu beats Netflix on price. It's basic service is $6 per month, while Netflix can be had for $9 per month.
That said, if you were to go basic for both services, it's only $15 per month. Not bad if you can afford it!
But keep in mind those are the basic options. Both Netflix and Hulu have upgrades available. Like its basic service, Netflix's standard service is standard definition, but you can stream on up to 2 screens at a time for $13 per month. Its premium package is $16 per month, ultra HD, and you can stream on four screens at once.
You can also download shows and movies on each service, which match how many screens you can view on: with the basic package you can download to one device, standard two devices, and premium four devices.
Hulu's upgraded pricing is $9 per month, and eliminates commercials while retaining its high definition streaming quality. A third upgrade, Hulu + Live TV, skyrockets the price to $40 or more per month. This is great for those who don't already have TV service, but want to subscribe without going through a cable company.
All told, Hulu is the better option if you're on a budget, but that's not the whole story.
What does Hulu offer that Netflix doesn't?
Is Hulu better than Netflix? In one very distinct way, yes.
Hulu has a deep catalog of TV shows from a wide variety of networks. It's where many networks choose to house their back catalogs, including ABC, Food Network, Cartoon Network, and Fox.
It also has a lot of original shows, which is how all streaming services are differentiating themselves. So its shows are unique to its platform; if there's one that catches your eye, know it won't be headed to Netflix at any point.
Both services support all the major platforms: Android, iOS, Apple TV, Chromecast, Mac, PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and various smart TV platforms. One differentiator is Hulu supports Nintendo Switch.
Do keep one thing in mind when streaming: your WiFi quality. Throughout your home, there will be dead spots and areas where your signal just isn't as strong. That's why we really like NetSpot, a Mac app that analyzes your home WiFi to tell you exactly where your signal is strongest.
NetSpot also shows you a heatmap of yout home, so you know the best spots to stream, which can even help you decide where to put your TV for the best living room streaming experience.
Best experience and features
So, which service is better? Netflix or Hulu?
One thing both lack is the ability to truly download content. Each let's you save content for offline viewing, but it's not a true download. If that's your preference, we suggest Elmedia Player for Mac. All you have to do is take the URL of the show you want to watch, launch the Elmedia Player browser, and enter the URL. The bottom of the screen will show you download options, and that's it!
Another option is Capto, which is a really simple and effective screen recorder for Mac. It offers high quality screen recording so you never lose picture quality when recording content.
If we have to go with one – Hulu or Netflix – it just might be Hulu. Netflix makes massive investments in original content, but there is a lot of noise to wade through before you get signals that delight you. It also has a habit of discontinuing shows before they've reached a conclusion if they're not popular.
Hulu has a huge catalog, and its originals seem limited to the best content it wants to produce. Its catalog of TV shows is unbeatable, too.
Keep in mind Hulu is also available in the Disney+ bundle, which gets you access to ESPN and the Disney+ streaming service. That's $12.99 per month.
While we prefer Hulu, we don't like that either disallows downloading shows. The apps mentioned in this article for downloading or recording content – and finding your best WiFi signal – are all free for seven days as part of a subscription to Setapp. After the free trial, Setapp is only $9.99 per month, and provides unlimited access to dozens of other great Mac apps.