Move over cable and satellite companies. Customers now have an alternative to overpriced programming bundles with web-based services. While streaming movies and television shows do not match the offerings of traditional paid television, they are getting closer.
Price and Features
Hulu Plus costs $7.99 per month, and has every episode from the current season of popular shows from the major TV networks, including ABC, NBC, and Fox. In addition, entire past seasons of classic shows such as 30 Rock, The Office, and The X-Files are available. Theoretically, you may never need to purchase a boxed DVD set again!
Netflix also costs $7.99 per month for its unlimited streaming service, with an extensive catalog of movies and television shows. Episodes from the current season are not available, and some past seasons are available only on DVD/Blu-ray (available for an additional fee). Overall, Netflix is better for movie buffs, while Hulu Plus is best for network television fans who want to keep up with current shows.
Netflix has more than 20,000 titles available for streaming, while Hulu Plus has 2,000-plus TV episodes. Both services will continue to amass titles, so the numbers will continue to rise.
To watch Hulu Plus or Netflix on your television, you will need an Internet-enabled television with ethernet port, Wi-Fi, or both; or a Net-ready Blu-ray player, game console, or set-top box that's compatible with the service you want.
Netflix currently supports more devices, including Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii); seven Internet-enabled Blu-ray players; three HDTVS; the TiVo digital video recorder; and three set-top boxes, including the popular Roku Streaming Player. Hulu Plus runs on select Samsung TVs and Blu-ray players, with support for Sony and Vizio hardware coming later this year. PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 support are "coming soon."
Hulu Plus supports Wi-Fi and 3G connections, as well as several Apple mobile devices: iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Netflix's iPhone/iPod app should arrive soon, and the iPad app is already out. With 4G networks on the way, both services could soon be major players in the mobile entertainment business.
Shows on Hulu Plus, like their counterparts on the regular (and free) Hulu, will have commercials. Netflix has no commercials.
Hulu Plus shows display in high-definition (720p) resolution, but Internet connection speed determines much of image quality. Netflix shows certain titles in HD, but only if the broadband link is faster than 5 mbps.