We try it!

We Try It: Netflix vs. Hulu Plus

I have been a proud and loyal TiVo owner since 2001. You will pry my TiVo from my cold, dead hands. 

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.

Hulu Plus

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.

By [E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

8 replies on “We Try It: Netflix vs. Hulu Plus”

I access them through Roku, and pretty much look at them as Netflix = movies, Hulu Plus = TV shows.  Netflix is adding more TV shows from USA and AMC networks, which is great, but they have a full season lag. Also, the lack of recently released movies annoys me. I usually end up paying to “rent” them from Amazon.

I really like Hulu for TV since they carry most of the current seasons of network shows and I can marathon them on the weekends. (Except for some shows from USA, they’re web only, and like someone else mentioned – that’s the whole reason I’m paying for the service!) Their queue/subscriptions thing is weird to navigate, but I’m starting to figure it out. I find I don’t mind the commercials since its typically 2, and it tells you “your show will return in xx seconds”.

Basically I’ve given up on hoping that any of these will be the right combination of shows/movies/cost so I rotate through them depending on what I want to watch.

I really like it since I don’t have a game console to use. I got the Roku 2 XD. I like that it has a wireless internet connection, and with an HDMI cable the picture quality is amazing!  There are a ton of channels I haven’t yet explored so I pretty much use it for HuluPlus, Netflix, Amazon, Pandora, Crackle, and Ted (a whole channel devoted to Ted talks). For me, it was definitely worth the money. I think they run about $80 for that model, but I got it on sale at Best Buy for $60, so keep an eye out for sales.

Your article is timely for me! Having just cancelled cable we were wondering how Hulu+ would work.  I love my Netflix, with it’s broad children’s programs and romantic comedies :)  But there are shows I watch that I wouldn’t get though Netflix.  Most I can watch on the program’s website, so I am not too worried.

There are few things more rage inducing than having Hulu Plus tell me something is only available on my computer. The goddamn reason I pay for plus to watch this stuff on my TV. Grrrrr. That said, I have no troubles with the navigation on the familial PS3. I keep it because I loves me some Korean drama shows, and I have a dodgy laptop and a bitterly uncomfortable chair for my desk computer, but I keep toying with the idea of giving it the boot.

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