Thursday, February 23, 2017

Hulu Vs. Netflix

When it comes to streaming services, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix come to most Americans' minds. Netflix continues to be the biggest of the three, with Amazon Prime coming in second place and Hulu in third. While Netflix may be the top streaming service, that does not necessarily mean it is the best. I find I rarely use Amazon Prime myself, so for me, at least, the competition as to which is better comes down to Netflix and Hulu.

When it comes to classic television shows, I would say that Hulu definitely has an advantage over Netflix. A few weeks ago I tried finding classic sitcoms on Netflix. Ultimately, I only found three: The Andy Griffith Show, Cheers, and The Dick Van Dyke Show. While I love all three shows, I have to point out that I have seen each of their entire runs several times over and, like most Americans, I have no shortage of venues on which to watch them. This stands in stark contrast to Hulu, where there are many more classic sitcoms available. Many are shows that I have seen repeatedly and could watch on any number of TV channels: The Beverly Hillbillies; The Bob Newhart Show; Cheers; I Love Lucy; The Dick Van Dyke Show; The Golden Girls; and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. That having been said, Hulu has several classic sitcoms that one doesn't see very often on local TV stations or on the various cable channels these days: The Addams Family;Car 54, Where Are You?; The Donna Reed ShowThe Lucy ShowMcHale's Navy; Mister Ed; My Favourite Martian; The Odd Couple; Taxi; and WKRP in Cincinnati. Here I must point out that I am only listing the sitcoms on Hulu that I really like. There are many more to be seen there. Even once one goes beyond sitcoms, Hulu has more classic shows than Netflix. Netflix has Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, and Twin Peaks. Hulu has Adam-12; Alfred Hitchcock Presents; Ironside; The Rockford Files; The Saint; Star Trek; and yet others. 

Both Netflix and Hulu have good selections of British TV shows. In fact, the two even share some British shows in common, including Being Human, Doc Martin, and Foyle's War. As might be expected, it is Hulu that tends to have older British shows. Among the classic British series on Hulu are Black Adder, Father Ted, The Invisible Man, Space: 1999, The Saint, Thunderbirds, and UFO. In contrast, the oldest British show on Netflix is the classic cartoon Danger Mouse. Both Netflix and Hulu also have good selections of anime series, to the point that it is difficult to say which is better. That having been said, Netflix might just have the advantage over Hulu when it comes to international television in general. A quick glance at Hulu's International section under TV reveals mostly anime and British TV shows. In contrast, Netflix has entire sections dedicated to Korean TV and Spanish-Language TV.

Of course, the past few years much has been made of Netflix's original series, and I do think Netflix may be better than Hulu in that regard. Netflix has several original series I have either enjoyed or want to see, including the various Marvel shows (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage), The Crown, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life; Longmire, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Stranger Things. In contrast, so far the only Hulu original that interests me is 11.22.63.

With regards to movies, neither Hulu nor Netflix have the sort of selection one might find available on the various premium channels, although they are both comparable to other streaming services, if not better. Surprisingly, Netflix would seem to have the advantage when it comes to classic films. Among the classic movies on Netflix are The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), The Graduate (1967), Gentleman Prefer Blondes (1953), How to Steal a Million (1966), Laura (1944), Metropolis (1927), The Third Man (1949), and To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), among others. On the other hand, Hulu has far fewer classics, and those they do have tend to be of a more recent vintage. Hulu does have all of the Indiana Jones movies, as well as an assortment of James Bond films. They also have such classic films as American Graffiti (1973), Annie Hall (1977), Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), The Long Riders (1980), Sabrina (1954), Stand by Me (1986), Theatre of Blood (1973), and This is Spinal Tap (1984), among others. Ultimately, I would say that if one wants to see movies from the Golden Age of Hollywood, he or she might be better off with Netflix. If he or she prefers films of a  more recent vintage, Hulu does have a good selection of films made since the Eighties.

With regards to foreign films, I would say both Netflix and Hulu are about even. Indeed, they do share a few foreign movies in common. That having been said, I think Hulu's menu makes it easier to find what one is looking for. Quite simply, Hulu lists many films by country of origin. This makes it easy for one to find Chinese movies, Japanese movies, Korean movies, Spanish language movies, or whatever else one may be looking for. In contrast, Netflix has all of its international movies mixed together, so that on the list one may see the Spanish film Los Últimos Días (2013) right beside the Dutch film Michiel de Ruyter (2014), which may be followed by the Brazilian film Mais Forte que o Mundo: A História de José Aldo (2016).

Ultimately, I really can't say which streaming service is better. It really depends upon what one is looking for in a streaming service. If I had to choose between Netflix and Hulu, I would go with Hulu myself. While Netflix has more classic films than Hulu, I already have an extensive collection of classics on DVD, as well as access to Turner Classic Movies. What I really want out of a streaming service is access to classic TV shows that are rarely seen elsewhere. Hulu is far superior to Netflix in that regard, to the point that I suspect most classic TV buffs would cancel their Netflix subscription before they would ever cancel their Hulu subscription. In the end, I would say that if one wants original series and movies, Netflix might be the way to go. If one wants classic TV shows and movies, Hulu would be the way to go.

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