Netflix vs. Hulu

CableTV.com spent 100s of hours comparing Netflix to Hulu—which comes out on top in the battle of the streaming TV heavyweights?

Best for next-day streaming

Price: $6.99–$12.99

On-demand library: 2,500+ TV shows and movies

Video resolution: 1080p and 4K

Free trial: 30 days

Most original content

Price: $9.99–$19.99/mo.

On-demand library: 6,000+ TV shows and movies

Video resolution: 1080p and 4K

Free trial: N/A

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Is Netflix or Hulu better?

The twin titans of on-demand content, Netflix and Hulu, both began streaming in 2007 and have been battling for dominance ever since. So, which does it better? The quickie comparison: Netflix has more stuff in sheer quantity, while Hulu has a smaller but wider variety of quality stuff.

That wider variety of stuff is why we’re giving Hulu the edge here, but Netflix’s consistency in cranking out content week after week can’t be overlooked. Let’s get into the digital deets of Netflix vs. Hulu.

Netflix vs. Hulu pros and cons

Netflix

6,000+ TV shows and movies
Regular original content releases
Long waits for non-Netflix shows

Get Netflix

Hulu

2,500+ TV shows and movies
Next-day streaming of network shows
Only 2 simultaneous streams

Get Hulu

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Free trials and deals

Hulu offers a 30-day free trial to test its streaming waters, as well as various discounts and deals. Check out our Hulu Deals guide for all the ways you can save some streaming green.

Netflix isn’t as generous—no free trials, no discounts, nada. The closest thing to a “deal” Netflix offers is not siccing the Streaming Police on you for password sharing . . . yet.

Compare Netflix and Hulu head-to-head

Netflix vs. Hulu

Service Price Editorial rating Video Streams Details
Netflix $9.99–$19.99/mo. 4.2 1080p, 4K 1–4 View plans
Hulu $6.99–$12.99/mo. 4.475 1080p, 4K 2 View plans

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Netflix gives you more content and simultaneous streams at a higher price tag than Hulu, and none of its three plan tiers include ads in content (yet). But Hulu’s ad-free tier is still cheaper than Netflix’s comparable Standard ($15.49 a month) plan. Right off the bat, we prefer Hulu.

Netflix vs. Hulu plans and pricing

Netflix plans and prices

Plan Price Video Streams Details
Basic $9.99/mo. 720p 1 View plans
Standard $15.49/mo. 1080p 2 View plans
Premium $19.99/mo. 1080p, 4K 4 View plans

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Netflix’s most popular plan is its Standard tier at $15.49 a month, which gives you two simultaneous streams and 1080p HD video. Families with a few kiddos in the house might want to opt for the $19.99 a month Premium plan, which features four simultaneous streams (a necessity) and 4K access (not so much unless there’s a videophile in the fam).

Hulu plans and prices

Plan Price Video Streams Details
Hulu (Limited ads) $6.99/mo. 1080p, 4K 2 View plans
Hulu (No Ads) $12.99/mo. 1080p, 4K 2 View plans

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

The only real difference between Hulu’s two plans is the presence of ads—the $6.99 tier has ‘em, the $12.99 tier doesn’t. The cheaper Hulu’s ad load isn’t overbearing; if you’re used to watching standard live TV, you might not mind it. However, once you try ad-free Hulu, it’s painful to go back to interrupted viewing. Choose carefully.

There’s also the option of adding live TV channels to Hulu with the cleverly titled Hulu + Live TV—you can read all about it in our Hulu + Live TV review.

Expand your streaming options

Netflix and Hulu aren’t the only games in Stream Town: Check out our Best Streaming Services guide for a critical look at HBO Max, Disney+, Peacock, and more.

Netflix vs. Hulu TV shows and movies

Yes, Netflix carries far more movies and TV shows than Hulu, but our eyes glaze over around the 1,000 mark, and we’d bet yours do, too. Chances are you’ll only watch 100 or fewer titles in any given non-pandemic year, which puts Netflix and Hulu on semi-equal footing.

Netflix is all about that new-new, dropping fresh original content several days a week, every week without fail. Hulu is more judicious with its original shows and movies, releasing only a handful of exclusives a month.

But original content isn’t necessarily what subscribers want. Some of the most popular shows on Netflix include older acquired series like Grey’s Anatomy, NCIS, and Supernatural, while Hulu’s secret weapon is next-day availability of fresh network shows from ABC, FOX, FX, and (until fall 2022) NBC. Viewers may be shunning traditional TV, but they still like the shows.

For a deeper dive into their respective content, read our What to Watch on Netflix and What to Watch on Hulu guides.

Netflix vs. Hulu specs and features

Netflix and Hulu feature similar bells and whistles in their user interfaces and functionality: 4K capability, offline downloads, parental controls, individual profiles, etc. But there are a few crucial differences, including a couple of checks in the negative column on Hulu for what should be basic functions (like streams and fast-forwarding).

Multiple streams and offline downloads

Servuce Streams Offline downloads
Netflix Basic: 1

Standard: 2

Premium: 4
All plans
Hulu 2 No Ads plan only

As we mentioned earlier, Netflix’s Premium plan is probably the best way for households with multiple viewers to go—four streams are worth the extra money to keep the family happy. On the other hand, we’ve always been annoyed with Hulu’s two-streams-only policy and remain so still.

Compatible devices

Device Netflix Hulu
Amazon Fire Cube, Stick, TV
Android phones, tablets
Android TV
Apple TV (4th gen.)
Apple TV 4K
Chromecast, Chromecast with Google TV
Cox Contour
Echo Show
iPhone, iPad
LG TVs (select models)
Nintendo Switch
NVIDIA SHIELD Pro TV
PC, Mac web browsers
PlayStation 3, 4, 5
Roku Ultra, Express, Premiere, Stick, TV
Samsung TVs (select models)
Sony TVs (select models)
TiVo Stream
VIZIO TVs (select models)
Wii
Xbox 360, Xbox One
Xfinity Flex
Xfinity X1

Data effective as of post date.

Netflix and Hulu are available on more platforms than most other streaming services. Another (obscure) plus for Netflix: Just as in the good ole days, Netflix will still mail you a physical DVD.

We’re here for the gear

Compare streaming TV equipment with our Best Streaming Devices guide to help find the right gear for you.

Video and audio quality

Servuce Video Audio
Netflix 720p, 1080p, 4K (Premium plan only) 2.0 stereo, 5.1 surround sound audio, Dolby Atmos (Premium plan only)
Hulu 1080p, 4K 2.0 stereo, 5.1 surround sound audio

For ultra-high-def enthusiasts, Netflix carries around 600 titles in 4K (Premium plan only). Hulu’s 4K content is limited to just a handful of original shows and movies.

Netflix Stranger Things Menu

Both Netflix and Hulu support standard 2.0 stereo and 5.1 surround sound audio, but only Netflix supports Dolby Atmos (again, Premium plan only).

Hulu home screen viewed on smart TV

Another of our small quibbles with Hulu: its fast-forward/rewind function flat-out sucks. The clunky, draggy performance is among the worst we’ve seen in any streaming service (including the notoriously buggy Amazon Prime Video).

Stop the lag and drag

Slow internet makes for bad viewing: Read our Best Internet for Streaming guide and level up your game.

Final take: Is Netflix or Hulu worth it?

While we think both Netflix and Hulu earn their price tags, for different reasons, we’re giving the everyman edge here to Hulu.

Netflix’s weekly firehose of original content is impressive, but we think Hulu’s next-day streaming of network shows, not to mention the convenient option to add live TV channels, is more in-line with the needs of the average viewer.

Also, Hulu’s originals get better every year—have you heard of The Bear? Chef’s kiss.

FAQ

Is Netflix or Hulu better?

Both Netflix and Hulu have their strengths, but we like Hulu’s quality-over-quantity approach to original content, next-day streaming of network TV shows, and the option to add live TV to the mix.

What does Netflix have that Hulu doesn’t?

Netflix’s biggest advantage over Hulu is its sheer quantity of original content that refreshes week after week, year after year. There’s literally always something new on Netflix whenever you open the app. Netflix also has Stranger Things, which is kind of a big deal.

Is Hulu worth it if I have Netflix?

Netflix and Hulu are different enough that they could compliment each other if you’re a power TV watcher willing to shell out subscription money for both. If all you care about is Korean dramas and Stranger Things (did we mention that it’s kind of a big deal?), you’re probably good with just Netflix.

Methodology

Our TV experts spent hundreds of hours watching Netflix and Hulu, rating the services on content, value, and reliability. Then we matched it up against other on-demand streaming TV services head to head to give a clearer picture of their strengths and weaknesses. For more information on our methodology, check out our How We Rank page.

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