Why Use Hulu Plus When You’ve Got Netflix?

It’s still technically a rumor, but at this point I’m willing to call it a sure thing.  An optional Hulu subscription service, dubbed Hulu Plus, is on the way.  According to the ‘L.A. Times’, Hulu’s going to be asking for $9.95 a month for access to a back catalog of episodes.  But based on the information at hand, there’s no reason you’d actually want to use it.

For your monthly fee, you’ll get to watch more than just the five most recent episodes of current shows, and you’ll get full access to older shows.  You’ll have the chance to watch all of ‘Arrested Development’ and more than just five episodes of ‘Firefly.’

But the big question isn’t what or how, but why?  The only reason Hulu is great is because, for now, it’s free.  I find it easy to tolerate the low sound quality, standard definition picture and inconvenient viewing methods because, well, I’m not paying for them.  It’s a great way to catch up on missed shows and a nice break if I feel like taking lunch at the computer, but it’s not replacing my cable box.

If it seems like I’m being a little hard on Hulu Plus, consider Netflix.  For $8.99 a month, you can get access to a giant back catalog of shows that surpasses those available on Hulu.  You’ll also get a DVD in the mail for those shows that aren’t streaming. It’s already got several shows streaming the day after they air, and there’s no indication of that trend stopping.   For $16.99 a month, I get a new Blu-ray to watch almost every day in addition to the streaming service.  With Hulu Plus, it’s streaming or nothing.

If that’s not enough, I can watch Netflix streams on my PC, my laptop, my Xbox 360, and on my PS3.  On the game systems, I can even get high definition video. If you’ve got a compatible Blu-ray player, receiver or TV, you can watch Netflix on that too.  Hulu, on the other hand, can only be watched on a computer.  Admittedly, a service like PlayOn can enable Hulu streaming on the PS3 and 360, but it looks and sounds awful, and it still requires a PC to do it.

If Hulu wants my subscription fee, they’re going to need to offer me a lot more to get me to pony up.  The ability to watch on something other than a PC would be a start.  High definition video would help too.  I’d love to get these episodes on my TV, and a good HD stream might be enough to make me shell out the cash.

There’s also the issue of episode delay.  Getting an episode eight days after it airs is one of those things that a free site can get away with.  I’d be extremely reticent to pay $9.95 a month to see ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ over a week late, even if the quality was good.  I’d even go as far as to say that as soon as the show is on regular television, it should be available to Hulu subscribers.

Unless Hulu is planning on something that hasn’t yet been revealed, the Hulu Plus movement could be over before it’s begun.

6 comments

  1. Rob

    Hulu is either (A) going to launch with a ton of quality exclusive content, or (B) simply hoping to steal free money from dumb people.

    I love Netflix for blu-rays, but I find their Instant Watch almost entirely useless. I can get it on my iMac, x360, PS3, but the video quality sucks (their HD content is worse than dvd) and they have little content I care about.

    The two great TV shows I discovered from NIW were the UK sex comedies ‘Coupling’ and ‘The IT Crowd.’ And they have quite a few good stand-up comedy specials. I would never use it for films.

  2. Prayformojo

    I would pay for Hulu on my iPad. Right now my iPad is my primary TV viewing device (newborn babies tend to limit media consumption) and the addition of Hulu streaming would be great. I caught on to Modern Family late in the game via the ABC app and I would love to be able to watch the rest of that series now on my iPad. Netflix is great, but they do not offer TV that is in-season (actually they do for Disney channel shows and Starz, but not for Lost, 24, etc.) If Netflix could lock up contracts to provide current seasons of TV, then Hulu would be obsolete, but for now
    Hulu would be a relatively cheap way to get current TV on my iPad.

  3. besch64

    I used to think Netflix was the Alpha and Omega of movie and TV rentals until I put the copy of Léon I rented into my 360 and it turned out to be fullscreen. Maybe I should subscribe to Hulu out of spite.

  4. Rob

    Yeah, the fullscreen Leon dvd happened to me too. I didn’t even watch it. But I netflixed Leon again on blu-ray and it was perfect HD bliss.

  5. Well Rob I’m not sure what Netflix streaming you are watching but I’ve NEVER watched an HD flick from them that was worse than a DVD, I love my Netflix and am glad they have been expanding their HD content for streaming, but I really think you need glasses if you think their HD streams are worse than DVD, if you really believe that my guess is that your bandwidth isnt good enough to get the full quality, because for me they look just as good as HD through my Cable provider

    As for Hulu I use it now through PlayOn and I think that looks just fine through my 360 or PS3, sure it isnt HD but for what I watch on there it wouldnt be in HD anyhow, Hulu has a lot of shows that Netflix doesnt carry and some really great catalog TV stuff, every season of The Outer Limits is great for myself as thats one of my all time favorite shows, Netflix is lucky to have one season of that available for streaming

    • Rob

      I tried netflix HD streaming via PS3, many different shows to test it, they all kinda sucked.

      The resolution, color, contrast, looks better-ish than dvd, but the framerate looks way too jerky.

      My internet is a steady 8-10 mb, ethernet to PS3. I don’t think it’s that.

      I sit 7′ away from a 50″ plasma. Blu-ray is great, X360 and PS3 games look good. DVDs look soft but smooth. Netflix HD streaming looks headache-inducing jerky. Non-HD streaming looks like crap.

      I think the flaws are heightened because of the viewing distance. But I find it unwatchable.

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