One of the great things about this being the Golden Age of Television is that there are so many places online to find your favorite shows for minimal, comparable costs. Gone are the days of depending on cable – welcome to the Age of the Internet.
Netflix and Hulu are probably the two most popular platforms for you to fulfill all of your binge-watching needs. But if you’ve only got room in your budget for one, which of them is better? There are great things and also kind of annoying things about both, but each of them is a worthy purchase if you’re addicted to what’s on TV right now.
Pros of Netflix
Netflix is by far the most popular and culturally significant of the platforms that absolutely everybody knows about. They definitely have a big budget, and it shows in their original shows and movies. Without Netflix, you wouldn’t have amazing original series like fan favorites Stranger Things, Black Mirror, Master of None and so many great shows you can’t access anywhere else.
You’re also able to download content and watch offline if you’ve got a long road trip or flight where you can’t access Wifi. It’s also super useful if you don’t want to take up data in general. Netflix doesn’t have any commercials, which is part of what made online platforms so popular in the first place.
It also just has good formatting – it’s very easy to find what you’re looking for, it’s pleasing to look at and super easy to watch in another window if you’re doing homework or scrolling through your Facebook feed at the same time.
Unfortunately, Netflix is not the perfect haven we wish it was. It takes down a lot of shows every month, so if you were planning on getting around to watching Bob’s Burgers one of these days, you’re out of luck on Netflix. It also has an unfortunate habit of taking down older, completed shows like cult classics Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly. This might not matter to you too much if you only like new TV or you don’t rewatch shows often, but for those of us who love to rewatch our favorites, it’s pretty inconvenient.
The shows and movies available to you also depend on your location. Different countries have different shows that they’re able to access. (Curse you, Canada, for having access to Brooklyn Nine-Nine.) If you’re some kind of jetsetter, maybe you can overlook this fault, but most of us are US- bound.
Netflix also only uploads shows by season, and while this is great for binging, it’s worse for watching shows that are currently on the air. Even when a season of a show is off the air, it takes forever for Netflix to upload it. Season six of New Girl ended almost a year ago and Netflix still hasn’t found the time to upload it even though it’s a hugely popular show.
Hulu picks up where Netflix fails on this front, as it uploads by episodes, not by seasons. You can watch whatever was on TV last night right away without dealing with cable and DVR. There’s no waiting around for seasons and episodes, they’re immediately accessible to you.
They also have so many shows that aren’t on Netflix, or shows that Netflix deleted in one of its purges. Ever wanted to watch Black-ish? Or Will and Grace? Or are you especially bitter that Netflix took down The X-Files? You can find them all on Hulu.
If you’re worried about missing out on Netflix originals, don’t worry: Hulu also has some amazing originals. Are your friends unable to shut up about The Handmaid’s Tale? Yep, it’s a Hulu original. Even though they don’t have as many originals as Netflix and aren’t as well known, they’re a newer platform and the success of The Handmaid’s Tale and its newer shows like Marvel’s Runaways show that they definitely have bigger, better shows on the way in the future.
All of that being said, Hulu is a newer, less established platform, which isn’t always ideal. It doesn’t carry the clout that Netflix does in budget and style. Hopefully they’ll work out the kinks, but until then it’s not nearly as user-friendly as Netflix is.
The biggest issue with Hulu is the commercials. They’re pretty annoying when compared with the easy viewing experience of Netflix and you need to splurge a few dollars more per month to go without them, which is a major strike against them. Still, they have to make money somehow.
You also can’t watch it offline, which you might be able to ignore if you’re not in the habit of watching TV with data, but is still an inconvenience if you have a long flight coming up. It’s also only available in the US and Japan, so there’ll be no Lost binge on your study abroad trip.
If you’re a movie buff, a certain problem is that Hulu’s commitment to having more shows than Netflix doesn’t extend to their movie collection. It’s sadly lacking in comparison.
Netflix and Hulu are great platforms with their minor issues, but they’re both well-worth the subscription. If you’ve had one of them for awhile, maybe it’s time to see how the other side lives and change up the pace of your life with a switch. Netflix and Hulu really do complete each other when it comes to their positives, and you can always switch back later if you change your mind.