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Netflix vs. Hulu: If you love binge watching seasons of your favorite TV show, it’s no contest

Updated Jan 28th, 2019 5:10AM EST
Netflix vs Hulu
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They released competing documentaries on the disastrous Fyre Festival. One announced a big price increase, while prices for the other are dropping. And when it comes to Netflix and Hulu, as always, a ton of new content is on the way to both services.

The past week or so has certainly given us a ton of news on the streaming front, but when you look past all of it — from Hulu dropping the price of its main plan right after Netflix raised its prices, to Netflix picking up 15 Oscar nominations — one of the things people hopefully can start to get a clearer sense of is this. Both services are increasingly fighting different battles, even as they’re talked about more and more as being in direct competition.

They do compete, in the sense that both services are after the same thing — as many subscribers as possible. They also want to be regarded as a home for buzzy projects and to back as many original productions as they can that wow critics, subscribers and pick up awards. All of which begs the question, though, which service is right for you?

It should go without saying that the answer to that question simply depends on what’s important to you. Which is why we’ll focus on one particular bit of selection criteria, which we alluded to in the headline. If bingeing whole seasons of TV shows is important to you — if you want as many seasons as possible of what the folks over at The Verge in a post today refer to as “comfort TV” — the good news is Netflix and Hulu are making it easier for you to pick between them on this point.

Image source: Netflix

This is a good criteria to use, we should add, because other points of differentiation make your choice much more black-and-white. Do you care almost exclusively about having the lowest price? Hulu may be what you want to go with there. Do you mostly want the original TV shows and movies that you can’t get anywhere else, the exclusive productions that everyone seems to be buzzing about? Netflix arguably wins that one.

But what about if you want to veg out in front of the TV to as many classic sitcoms and other shows as you can find?

Netflix and Hulu are increasingly going in different directions when it comes to licensed TV content. Sure, Netflix has some of the biggest franchises available for its users — properties like The Office and Friends. Netflix, however, is also putting more of a premium these days on building up a library of shows exclusive to its service. Series that include Ozark, Stranger Things, You, Sex Education, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, Bojack Horseman and Narcos.

Hulu, on the other hand, perhaps owing to the fact that it’s soon to be majority owned by an entertainment giant like Disney, has built up a big library of licensed programming. Meaning, on balance, you’re probably going to find more full seasons of current and old shows on Hulu that you can enjoy which Netflix doesn’t have, everything from The Simpsons to 30 Rock, ER, Seinfeld and more.

Heck, Netflix itself has even in recent days given props to the fact that Hulu offers a TV show that’s not available on Netflix:

Of course, Hulu additionally offers a subscription tier that includes Live TV, so that might make your consideration even easier if it’s TV that mostly interests you.

Netflix, for its part, spent an estimated $13 billion on content in 2018 and will no doubt surpass that total this year, with tons more shows and movies that get everyone talking — which is why we should conclude this post by adding that either way, consumers are the winner here in the never-ending streaming competition between these and, for that matter, other streaming services all fighting for our attention.

If for some reason you also haven’t given either Netflix or Hulu a try yet, another similarity between them that’s certainly useful — both offer a free 30-day trial, which should help you get started on making your decision.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.