Netflix vs Hulu 2020: Which streaming service is right for you?

netflix hulu

Hulu is one of the original names in video-on-demand (VOD) streaming. The streaming giant is no stranger to adapting to maintain an edge in the streaming wars, and in 2019 it joined forces with Disney. Hulu released its own streaming service, Disney+, later that same year. Disney also unveiled a competitive bundle combining Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu for $13/mo. And with Disney’s purchase of 20th Century Fox, FXX series will become available on Hulu after their initial air date. 

Hulu’s tier system means there is a plan for everybody. Consisting of its basic ad-supported, No-Ads, Live TV, and Live TV with No Ads models, Hulu can either supplement other subscriptions you have or serve as your primary TV source.

Netflix is the largest VOD streaming service in the world, with almost 150 million subscribers. Starting as a mail-order service in the late 90s, Netflix foresaw where the tide of technology was heading and in 2007 expanded into a VOD model. Above all else, Netflix features a treasure trove of original content. The service has received nominations and won awards for its movies and series, having spent billions on its productions. 

Films like Marriage Story, Okja, and The Irishman set Netflix apart from its competitors — with the only other service coming close being Amazon Studios. But as far as original series are concerned, not even Amazon compares to Netflix’s massive catalog. 

Plans and pricing for Hulu and Netflix 

Hulu and Netflix both provide multi-tier models. Hulu + Live TV serves as an authentic alternative to traditional TV with over 60 channels. 

 HuluNetflix
PricingHulu Basic $5.99; No Ads $11.99; Live TV $54.99; Live TV (No Ads) $60.99Netflix Basic $8.99; Standard $12.99; Premium $15.99
Free trial length30-day Basic/No Ads; 7-day for Live TV30 days
Number of titles4,000+800+
Original content available?YesYes
Streaming quality4K4K

Comparing the Netflix vs. Hulu experience

Since Hulu and Netflix have a lot in common in terms of features and pricing structures, let us take a closer look at the key differences between the services. 

User experience 

Both Hulu and Netflix have impressive interfaces for their apps, but Netflix outworks Hulu with its usability and menu layout. 

App usage

Netflix and Hulu’s desktop, mobile, and smart TV apps allow you to stream content on virtually any screen. With various menu options to navigate through and sideways-scrolling searching on a black background, Netflix’s layout is perfect for browsing while remaining easy on the eyes. Finding and performing searches on Hulu is slightly more rigid, but not enough to discount it completely. Both services also let you leave a show or movie and pick up where you left off on another device, as long as you are signed in to your account. 

Device compatibility

Hulu: 

  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Android devices
  • Android TV
  • Apple TV
  • Google Chromecast
  • iOS devices
  • Nintendo
  • Roku
  • Smart TVs 
  • Web browsers
  • Xbox 

Netflix: 

  • Apple TV
  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Android devices
  • Google Chromecast
  • iOS devices
  • Nintendo 
  • Nvidia Shield 
  • PlayStation 
  • Roku
  • Smart TVs
  • Wii
  • Web browsers
  • Xbox 

Personalization

Netflix and Hulu allow you to create multiple profiles through your account, five and six, respectively. This lets you save and keep track of shows and movies you watch, while their algorithms calibrate your interests to better serve you with recommendations. When it comes to children, Hulu gives you the ability to set restrictions through their profile to prevent inappropriate content appearing on their feed. 

Netflix also lets you tweak your parental controls and manage viewing options from its settings. You can toggle these settings through soft and hard measures. For instance, soft controls mean setting a maturity level for a certain profile, whereas hard controls require users to input a 4-digit pin to watch mature content. 

Hulu outdoes Netflix when it comes to add-on features. You can upgrade and customize your account by adding channels like HBO, Showtime, and Starz for an additional monthly rate. Premium subscribers to Hulu No-Ads and Hulu + Live TV can boost their DVR storage or upgrade to unlimited screens for $9.99/mo. each, or add both for $14.98/mo. 

Features

If you have a Netflix account with anything above the Basic plan, then you have the power to download content for offline viewing. You can only download select content for offline use with the Hulu No-Ads and Hulu + Live TV (No Ads) plans.

Depending on your plan, you have the option to stream simultaneously with friends and family. With Netflix Basic, you only have access to one account. Its Standard plan allows you to stream on two screens at once, while Premium lets you stream on up to four. 

Hulu vs. Netflix content

Hulu is known for its immense catalog of licensed shows and movies, like American Ultra, Creed II, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, MythBusters, The Beach Bum, and South Park. But even though its collection of original content does not come close to Netflix’s, it has still produced award-winning projects in The Handmaid’s Tale and The Beatles: Eight Days A Week — The Touring Years. Thanks to its new association with Disney, upcoming Marvel and Fox series and movies will filter through Hulu’s catalog. 

As referenced already in this article, Netflix gets original content right more than any other streaming service. Its original films have become fixtures at the Academy Awards, and critics and regular viewers praise the series as some of the best in the industry. Netflix has a mission to turn the majority of its library into original Netflix content and has invested lots of money to make that happen. Programming such as House of Cards, BoJack Horseman, Daredevil, and Stranger Things have made Netflix a mainstay for many of its subscribers. Netflix also features several documentaries, including Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, Making a Murderer, Remastered Devil at the Crossroads, and Wild Wild Country. 

The final cut 

Even though Netflix and Hulu are competitors, they are both enticing in totally different ways. Netflix has a bigger and better library of movies and series along with the accolades to back it up. Hulu has some original content but really excels in its licensed content. Hulu also offers a great cable alternative with its Hulu + Live TV plan. Luckily, if you are still unsure, then you can easily try out each service for yourself. Most of the Netflix and Hulu plans have a free trial period of 30 days, save for the Hulu + Live TV plans, which only offer 7-day free trials. That way, you will have enough time to give each service a try, and unlike cable, you will not need to worry about contracts.