Is Hulu Plus vs. Netflix even a meaningful comparison?

by Paul William Tenny

Netflix paper sleeve (
Netflix's signature paper sleeve (source)

Although a site I regret not reading much these days did sit down and compare the recently-made-available back catalog of TV shows under Hulu's paid "Plus" plan, I don't think they were looking at this thing from the right perspective. Between Hulu and Netflix, it's not a fair or even meaningful fight.

Hulu is owned and operated by several of the studios which control (and own, versus the networks that license and air them) the bulk of the television content that Netflix streams and wants to stream in the future. Netflix therefore has to pay what looks at first glance to be its competitor to get that content.

Hulu does not.

Even if Netflix's catalog was larger than Hulu's, the fact that Netflix has to pay for it makes it less valuable, and their revenue from streaming it -- whatever that amounts to -- less impressive. Although Netflix, as far as I know, does have the edge in non-PC streaming penetration with apps for the big three smart phones and several gaming consoles already out there, that may not last long with Hulu's new push to monetize their content online.

What really matters in my mind is that should Hulu want to (and this may very well amount to a violation of anti-trust law), the studios/congloms that run the site could yank their shows off Netflix and keep them exclusively for themselves, as they used to do in decades past. There's also the matter of recent-season episodes being freely available on Hulu, but not Netflix.

So no, it's not a meaningful or fair comparison. But if you're going to go there anyway, Hulu wins hands down.

in Business, Digital Media, Streaming Video


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1 Comment

I felt dumb even reading this article... terrible.

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