A few months ago, my beloved TiVo flipped over and died, after many years of loyal service to me and my entertainment needs. When I purchased a new one, one of the perks that came with it was a free six month trial of Hulu Plus. As a long-time Netflix fan, I was skeptical that Hulu could live up to the TiVo + Netflix experience. I was surprised to discover that there were a few things Hulu does better than Netflix, but on a whole, Netflix was the winner.
Pros: Netflix has a pretty extensive collection of things to watch, including many of the shows I could watch over and over. Netflix has been available through TiVo for a few years, and it usually works just as advertised, with high quality video and rare times when the playback is spotty. Netflix programming is 100% free of commercials. Netflix also offers a ton of movies, in addition to the 1000s of TV series available.
Cons: With my particular combination of TiVo, Netflix and receiver, there are a handful of shows that don’t play any sound. Googling has not found me a solution yet, and reports to both TiVo and Netflix customer service have gone unanswered. Netflix has a big selection of U.S. and British programs, but doesn’t carry much from other countries. Additionally, the interface used to watch Netflix through TiVo has recently changed, and it’s a lot harder to navigate than it used to be. The nav menus are also very, very slow.
Pros: Hulu has programming from Australia, Japan, Korea and Canada, in addition to stuff from the U.S. and the UK. Hulu also has several U.S. shows that aren’t available anywhere else, although some can only be viewed on a computer, and not streamed to a TV or mobile device. Hulu Plus is cheaper per month than a Netflix streaming subscription.
Cons: The interface is terrible. I tossed everything I was interested in into my queue, including several TV series. Instead of displaying folders or sub-menus, I need to scroll through every episode of every show in order to find what I want to watch. Hulu also adds commercials to everything, which I understand, everyone’s got to pay the bills, but if I’m going to pay a monthly fee, I’d rather get commercial-free programming. Things tend to disappear from the Hulu options pretty quickly, as well. I was disappointed to see that very few shows had entire seasons available.
Netflix is the clear winner for me, because of selection, a lack of commercials, and probably at least a little because it’s what I’m used to. I think Hulu Plus has a lot of potential, but I can’t help but think the service might be struggling financially. After my free trial expires, I don’t think I’ll be paying to keep the service, even though Netflix is more expensive.