For the last few years Netflix has been my only subscription beyond cable TV, but a colleague and former Hulu employee encouraged me to give Hulu another try after I admitted I hadn’t been a subscriber since 2009. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that, as a tech writer, I didn’t know Hulu now offers both on-demand and live TV, so I knew it was time to test my own assumptions about Hulu in relation to two other top media streaming services.
Hulu Live TV Demands Above Average Internet Connection
I live in a neighborhood that does not yet have Fios. My cable connection is average, at best, so right off the bat my first gripe about Hulu was how frequently the live TV had to pause and buffer. That isn’t Hulu’s fault, but if you’re on the fence about it, their free 1-week trial will reveal if your home Internet can reliably support the service. Also, it’s expensive. The package that includes live TV is $40, and specialty channels like HBO and Showtime cost extra, a la carte. Other than that, I love it. The UI is beautiful and intuitive, and like Netflix, Hulu offers originally-produced exclusive shows. After watching the pilot of The Handmaid’s Tale starring Elizabeth Moss, I was hooked.
Netflix is Hands-Down Best Value
Remember the good old days when you had to check your actual snail mailbox for DVD’s? The leap from ordering those frequently scratched disks to on-demand content was huge. Both Netflix’s TV show and movie content are wide ranging and include classics as well as a ton of new releases. Their liberal “…on unlimited devices” policy makes sharing your account with friends and family easy, but shhh- you didn’t hear that from me. The low price is why I still rate Netflix as the overall best media streaming service. Almost anyone with a job can build $12 per month into their budget if they really want to.
Amazon TV Integrates with Company’s Other Families of Products and Services
One thing that bugs me about Hulu and Netflix is that you must provide a credit card just to get a glimpse inside their UI. There are free trials, sure, but Amazon gets a brownie point for allowing you to browse their UI without first going through the paywall. Amazon TV is bundled with their greater “Prime” subscription, which includes shipping upgrades and discounts. Depending on the services you use, you might see that blanket access as a perk, or you might feel you’re paying for extra services you don’t need. The UI’s of Hulu and Netflix are sleeker and more refined – a possible telltale sign that Amazon may be trying to spread itself too thin across different products and services, rather than zero in on being the best at two or three things. I personally wouldn’t subscribe to Amazon TV just yet, but I’ll keep an eye on it as it evolves.