23 Comments

Summary:

While Netflix might have a head start when it comes to cross-platform development and building a subscriber base, comparing the shows that will be available on Hulu Plus upon launch shows that the new subscription service has a huge advantage.

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This morning’s announcement of Hulu Plus was accompanied by an extensive list of the shows that would now be available on the new service. But how does it match up to the content already currently available on Netflix Instant?

Going through the 40-plus shows mentioned by name (of the hundreds promised), Hulu Plus’s advantages over Netflix are pretty clear. When comparing the list of shows whose current seasons will be available via Hulu Plus with those in Netflix’s listings, all programs mentioned as being available on Hulu’s subscription service are either DVD-only or entirely unavailable on Netflix. Even the most recent season of Dollhouse, which completed its run six months ago, is only available in disc form.

Reality programming has always had a lot more support on Hulu than it does on Netflix, a trend continued by Hulu Plus: The complete back catalog as well as current seasons of Dancing With the Stars, The Biggest Loser and Supernanny are all promised, while the closest Netflix gets to admitting any of those shows exist are some Dancing and Biggest Loser workout DVDs.

When it comes to the back catalog, Netflix Instant does a little better, with about half of the series Hulu Plus will have also being available there (sorry, Ally McBeal fans, but Hulu’s your only source there).

HULU PLUS BACK CATALOG ALSO ON NETFLIX INSTANT?
30 Rock Yes
8 Simple Rules No
Ally McBeal No
American Dad No
Angel Yes
Arrested Development Yes
The Biggest Loser No
Brothers and Sisters No
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Yes
Dancing With the Stars No
Desperate Housewives Yes
Eli Stone No
Grey’s Anatomy Only season 5
Heroes Yes
Law and Order: SVU Yes
Legend of the Seeker Yes
Life No
Lipstick Jungle No
Miami Vice Yes
My Name Is Earl Yes
The Office Yes
Parks and Recreation No
The Pretender No
Prison Break Yes
Quantum Leap Yes
Reaper No
Roswell Yes
Samantha Who? No
Saturday Night Live Yes
Supernanny No
Ugly Betty Yes No
What About Brian? No
The X-Files Yes

Netflix currently has more than 20,000 titles in its catalog, including a great deal of content that will never appear on Hulu in either its free or premium forms, but the shows mentioned above do represent a significant portion of network television’s most popular series.

Thus, it’s all about the content deals at this point. For example, Netflix’s dealings with Fox means that both it and Hulu Plus have the complete back catalog of The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer — but maintaining that relationship will be key for Netflix, since News Corp’s status as a Hulu co-founder and stakeholder might give Hulu favored status.

But Netflix has a head start when it comes to cross-platform development, a much larger film catalog than Hulu and 14 million pre-existing subscribers — who may or may not see the value in signing up for multiple services.

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  1. Hulu Plus Squares Off Against Netflix – NoFilmSchool Tuesday, June 29, 2010

    [...] services like Hulu and Netflix in their stead. Looking at the catalog of each service, it’s pretty clear that Netflix has more feature films and older content, while Hulu has more up-to-date TV [...]

  2. Buzz Bruggeman Tuesday, June 29, 2010

    But Netflix has Roku, and until Hulu has a drop dead simple way to connect to my big screen TV it will be in second place. it’s fun to watch some stuff on the computer, but a lot more fun to watch on the 42″ flat screen from 8′ away.

    I will probably try the $9.95 Hulu Plus for a month, but the amount of great content on Netflix is pretty impressive, particularly for anyone over 50, e.g., people with time, money and interest.

    1. HULU plus is now available on PS3 consoles and select sony Tvs. Other ” internet ” tv will have an update.

  3. At a more fundamental level, why should Hulu suddenly start charging for content on iPad/iPhone when it is free on a PC? Hulu’s tagline is “Watch your favorites. Anytime, for free”. Why should the medium decide the pricing? A paid app is OK, but this approach goes squarely against Hulu’s positioning.

    I guess, Hulu is being guided by the usage habits of iPad/iPhone users. Just because consumers are using their iDevices for entertainment, does not mean that they will pay for anything you ask (well, may be some will still pay). As you rightly mentioned, I am not sure if it deserves the $10 pricing. Will wait and see, I am sure things will change :)

  4. Too bad Hulu screwed up the player on its free service. It used to play perfectly, but the new player is just plain jerky in full screen. Why should I pay $10 when they’ve demonstrated they can’t stream content seamlessly and don’t listen to their customers?
    I’ll stick to Netflix.

  5. netflix streaming is awesomely good if you have a 5+MB/sec connection (which I do, with PLENTY of room to spare). Movies on Netflix’s Instant Watch look terrific on my big screen Sammys! Hulu?? LOL! gimmie a break!

  6. Where do you see “Ugly Betty” being on Netflix streaming? It’s not. DVD only.

    1. Liz Shannon Miller lms10045 Tuesday, June 29, 2010

      Whoops! Good catch. I’ll correct.

  7. Douglas Tarlow Tuesday, June 29, 2010

    In the competition of cultural relevance, Hulu certainly wins. While Netflix undoubtedly has an enormous library, Hulu has an enormous amount of inertia and better access to the content that is most desirable (compare the price of a new release TV show on DVD to a more dated one (think 1, 5, or 10 years).

    Further, most of Netflix’s massive library is undesirable to most users, which is it’s only real advantage. Buzz says that Hulu will be second place until it connects to his “Big Screen”, but that’s dated thinking. More than ever before, Americans are consuming media on the go. What’s this mean? Take a ride on Caltrain sometime, and you’ll see people watching video on a multitude of devices, most prominently of course on iPads.

    There is no reason to believe that on-the-go media consumption will be unable to rival at-home use.

    Secondly, Netflix’s interface is unusable as compared to Hulu’s. It certainly seems to me, as a current Netflix instant user, that Netflix has purposely made it difficult to find the shows that you want on Watch Instantly. There’s no dedicated Instant search, all searches will yield results which are unusable for you when you’re clicked on the Watch Instantly tab. Sorting and filtering are limited, again, as if it was done on purpose.

    I’m not the only one that thinks Netflix’s Instant interface is unusable. There is an entire site (and community) dedicated to bypassing it, and helping people TO ACTUALLY find and discover content in USEFUL ways. See for yourself: http://instantwatcher.com/

    This probably puts Netflix Instant out of business, if not the entire company.

    1. Try being more subtle with your trolling next time. This one is much too obvious.

      Personally, I like the idea of Netflix having some competition for streaming, but Hulu is certainly no real threat at this point. The only people who will pay the $10/mo. are iPhone fans who will use it just because they can, briefly, then stop paying when they realize they don’t really need to watch TV at Starbucks. Either you already have cable (and a DVR that lets you skip commercials), or you’re cheap and won’t pay $10 for what you can watch for free.

  8. To make this a fair comparison, you should also list all of the back catalog shows that are available on Netflix but not on Hulu.

    1. You raise an excellent point. I’d like to see that comparison as well.

    2. It’s a very fair point. I’m just a bit daunted by going through 20,000 titles (though the TV catalog isn’t the majority of those).

  9. Possible Wining Combo: OTA HDTV + Hulu Plus + Blockbuster/Redbox | eHomeUpgrade Tuesday, June 29, 2010

    [...] something I’d be interested in paying for. Luckily, NewTeeVee did the leg work for us in comparing Hulu Plus with Netflix’s instant streaming collection. According to the site, Hulu’s biggest advantage over Netflix is the amount of new and [...]

  10. Hulu Launches ‘Plus’ Subscription Service Tuesday, June 29, 2010

    [...] Hulu Plus vs. Netflix Instant: Who Has the Advantage? [...]

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