Netflix vs Hulu – the age old question of which is the better streaming service. But let’s not forget about Amazon Prime and the new hybrid streaming/disc rental service from RedBox. There’s no one service that is head and shoulders above the rest. Read on and see which is the best for you.
But before plunking down some of your hard-earned cash, browse all of the free movies and free TV shows you can stream online. There are also several services to rent movies and TV shows online without paying a monthly subscription.
Netflix vs Hulu vs Amazon Prime vs Redbox Instant:
- Monthly Price: The subscription price you’ll pay every month
- Overall Selection: How many titles are available to stream?
- New Movie Selection: How many recent releases are available?
- New TV Selection: Current season of TV shows available?
- Device Compatibility: What devices are you able to use the service on? ’Everything’ is defined as: iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, Xbox, Playstation, Apple TV, Roku, and smart TV’s. Some services actually support many more devices like Wii, Windows Phone, DVR’s, home theatre systems, etc.
- Device Limit: How many devices can stream video simultaneously?
- Extras: What extras (if any) are included with the subscription.
Grading: All of these services are their libraries of titles are constantly evolving, so some criteria are graded in generalities relative to each other. A simple four-point system is used, with ‘poor’ being the worst and ‘great’ being the best.
Netflix: the most titles and the best original series
If you’re looking for the most titles available on the most devices, then Netflix is your choice. Netflix has a great user interface with relevant recommendations. They don’t have a ton of new movies, but they have more than the other services. It’s also the only place to get some great new shows like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and Arrested Development. Netflix supports 2 simultaneous streams for $8/mo or 4 streams for $12/mo. Start a free 1-month trial.
Hulu Plus: watch current season of TV shows
Hulu Plus has tons of current and older TV shows, but their selection of movies isn’t great. With a Hulu Plus subscription, you’ll be able to watch full seasons of current shows on a variety of devices and see less ads. Hulu also offers a lot of programming free without a subscription, but it’s limited the the last few episodes of current seasons and restricted to viewing on a PC only.
Hulu is heavy on network shows from ABC, NBC, and Fox. The most recent episodes of these shows (and CBS) are already free online. They do have access to some shows from cable networks, but it is limited and doesn’t include popular networks like AMC, HBO, or Showtime. If you keep up to date on your favorite shows, then a Hulu Plus subscription may not be worth it. Sign up for a free 1-week trial and see if it’s for you.
Amazon Prime: A lower-price with lots of extras
Amazon Prime streaming is a little cheaper than the other offerings, but you’ll have to pay $79 for a full year, there’s no monthly option. Amazon has done a good job of building up their catalog, but overall it’s still not as good as Netflix. They do have some exclusive shows though. For example, last year they were streaming the CBS show Under The Dome as it was airing, and they’ve announced similar deals for 2014. They’ve also started streaming some original series like Alpha House and Betas.
Amazon Prime comes with some very valuable extras like free 2-day shipping on tons of items at Amazon.com and access to the Kindle Lending Library, for free e-books every month. They also support movie downloads to the Kindle Fire tablet, something no other streaming service does.
Amazon Prime is a very unique offering with a lot of value for Amazon shoppers and Kindle readers. Start a free 1-month trial today.
Redbox Instant: Streaming and DVDs
This is another unique offering, combining a streaming service with DVD rentals. For $8 every month you’ll get unlimited streaming plus credits for 4 DVD rentals from Redbox kiosks. The streaming service doesn’t offer the greatest selection, but it’s consistently been getting better since its introduction. Using the DVD rentals is one way to get access to the newest movie releases without purchasing them. If you’re already a fan of the Redbox kiosks and want to supplement it with some streaming video then this is a great deal. Click here to start a free 1-month trial.
Netflix is still the content king, but the others are catching up. Amazon Prime and Redbox Instant offer unique values, while Hulu Plus offers current TV seasons. All of the above services have free trials. Sign up for them and see which one you like best. You may find you’d like to alternate between services every few months.
If you want to see which specific movies are currently available on the different streaming services, check out Can I Stream It. It’s a very handy tool. If the streaming services don’t offer enough new releases, try renting some movies from Redbox kiosks, iTunes, or VUDU. Get 5 free HD movies when you sign up for a new Vudu account.