Hulu Plus vs. Netflix vs. Amazon Prime: Streaming Video Services Compared
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Hulu Plus vs. Netflix vs. Amazon Prime: Streaming Video Services Compared

While all three services have the same monthly subscription rate (except for Amazon Prime's annual subscription option), each service has specific qualities that make it stand out from the rest. Whether it's Netflix's huge assortment of titles, Hulu Plus' fast access to the latest TV programs, or Amazon Prime's extra benefits, TV and movie buffs alike will be able to choose a service that suits their particular needs.
Covered in this report
Hulu Plus — Best Features
Users can enjoy the latest TV shows the day after they originally air.
There are plenty of past seasons of old and current shows available for browsing.
Best for: TV lovers who want an alternative to On-Demand for watching their favorite programs.
Best deal: 2-week free trial with a .edu address - [activate coupon]
Netflix — Best Features
Users can opt to have unlimited DVDs/Blu-rays mailed to them monthly along with the streaming service.
Netflix generally has the largest selection of movies available.
Best for: Movie buffs who want to enjoy a wide range of titles and browse specific topics within general genre categories.
Best deal: Get a Free Trial - [activate coupon]
Amazon Prime — Best Features
Users can enjoy free shipping for any other Amazon purchases.
In addition to movies, users also have access to free Kindle books.
Best for: Those who will also greatly benefit from the service's other perks.

As more and more of our daily lives are shifted online, the watching and renting of videos have followed in stride. Downloading—sometimes illegally—was a chosen method for some at first, but video streaming services have become the new favorite option for watching movies and TV shows outside of DVD’s, Blu-rays, and the television itself.

More streaming video options are available these days, but three services still retain most of the streaming market: Hulu Plus, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. While similarly priced, each of these services provides a variety of special features that sets them apart from the others. Based on your particular tastes and needs, any one of these services may work for you.

How Online Video Streaming Works

As online video streaming becomes a more popular venue for movie and TV-watching, the streaming process itself has become more familiar and standardized among the various service providers. Not to be outdone by a competitor’s ease of access, Hulu Plus, Netflix, and Amazon Prime all follow the same basic formula for allowing their users to find and watch videos online using their services:

  • Access service’s website or app (depending on your device)
  • Search/browse the video selection
  • Select a chosen video
  • Instantly stream video to your device

When you pull up any of the services on whatever device you’ll be watching it on, you will be directed to pages of videos that you can browse through. Some are organized by their popularity or what you’ve recently viewed, and others will be organized by genre. Netflix has the best genre organization, as it breaks down each genre into subgenres. You can also access a search bar which allows you to specifically search for a particular movie if you have one in mind, though it may not be available on all or any of the three services.

When you select the video you want to watch, you can add it to your instant queue on Netflix or your Favorites list on Hulu Plus. This way you can keep track of the movies and TV shows you’ve watched as well as the ones you’d like to watch again.

Hulu Plus also offers exclusive content, including some shows that are created specifically for Hulu viewing only. This includes a number of TV shows of varying genres.


There are many devices through which you can stream your online videos, from game consoles and mobile devices to PCs and Internet-connected disc players, TVs, or home theater systems.

These devices include:

  • PC (desktops/laptops)
  • Video game consoles (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, and Wii U)
  • Set-top-boxes (TiVo, Roku)
  • Apple TV
  • HDTVs (Samsung, Sony BRAVIA, VIZIO, Insignia, Sanyo, JVC, etc)
  • Blu-ray players (LG, Panasonic, RCA, Sharp, Toshiba, Yamaha, etc)
  • Home theater systems (Panasonic, RCA, Samsung, Sony)
  • Mobile phones (iPhone, Windows Phone)
  • Tablets (iPad, Kindle Fire)
  • iPod touch

All three services are available on pretty much every device listed. Because these service’s apps are generally accessible via the device’s internet connection, nearly any modern device with an Internet connection will be able to access the service.

Pricing / Subscriptions

All three services have comparable, if not the same, pricing for their monthly subscriptions, but each has certain features and perks that may suit your different video streaming needs.

Hulu Plus

  • One-month free trial
  • Unlimited video streaming - $7.99/month

Hulu Plus is a service best suited for TV lovers looking for an alternative to OnDemand and DVR. The day after a TV show originally airs for the first time, Hulu Plus will make the episode available for viewing by the next morning. One catch with this service, however, is that the episodes are introduced, broken up by, and ended with advertisements. These commercials are much shorter than those on television—they average about 30 seconds—but if you do not like advertisements, this may be a drawback for you.

Hulu Plus also streams movies though the selection doesn't quite amount to the libraries of the other two services just yet. Their TV selection however far surpasses Netflix and Amazon Prime, particularly for the latest shows on TV.

If you do not want to sign up for the Hulu Plus service, you can also watch Hulu for free on your devices. However, there are more ads, the picture quality is not as high, and you might get clips instead of the full episode for some shows.


  • One-month free trial
  • Unlimited video streaming - $7.99/month
  • Two rentals, 1 out-at-a-time - $4.99/month
  • Unlimited 1 DVD out-at-a-time - $7.99/month
  • Unlimited 1 Blu-ray out-at-a-time - $9.99/month
  • Unlimited 2 DVDs out-at-a-time – $11.99/month
  • Unlimited 2 Blu-rays out-at-a-time - $14.99/month
  • Unlimited 3 DVDs out-at-a-time – $15.99/month
  • Unlimited 3 Blu-rays out-at-a-time - $19.99/month

Netflix is the only service that also offers DVD and Blu-ray rentals like those you would find in a rental store. The plans vary according to type and number of discs, but the unlimited one DVD out-at-a-time costs the same amount as the unlimited streaming subscription. The two used to be bundled together for a combined price of $9.99/month, but in an effort to shift more toward streaming, Netflix split the two and increased their rates about two years ago. You can get two physical rentals per month, one at a time, for only $4.99/month, but you cannot bundle this option with the streaming to get a lower combined rate.

The main difference between Netflix’s streaming service and DVD/Blu-ray rentals is that the library for the rentals is larger and includes more recently released movies. Movies and TV shows will generally be available for rental before they are available for streaming, and some may never be available to stream. In terms of how long it takes for Netflix to make rental copies of new movies and TV shows available, it is generally not until after the normal DVD release, and then it could be anywhere from one to several months for the title to appear in Netflix’s rental library—and longer for streaming. Netflix has signed deals with certain production and distribution companies, so certain titles will be available faster than others.

The unlimited streaming and unlimited one DVD out at a time can be bundled together for $15.98 if you would like access to both options’ full libraries. Netflix has been around the longest and thus has a greater percentage of the streaming market, so its library tends to be the most expansive of the three.

There are no ads with Netflix’s content.

Amazon Prime

  • One-month free trial
  • Unlimited video streaming - $7.99/month
  • Unlimited video streaming - $79/year
    • Savings - $16.88/year or $1.41/month

The biggest plus to Amazon Prime are the extra perks that come along with this service. The selection itself is decent and mimics a good bit of Netflix’s streaming library, but it still does not have quite the full selection or the granular genre browsing that Netflix has.

Amazon Prime’s main package perks are:

There are thousands of movies and TV shows available through Prime Instant Videos, though its overall selection at this time is still trying to compete with Netflix for movies and Hulu Plus for TV shows (as the youngest of the three services). But with this service, you also have access to a greater collection of Kindle books, and you can borrow one free each month from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. Also with this service comes free two-day shipping for many items available for purchase on the Amazon site with no minimum order size. This can come especially handy if you often use Amazon for shopping (and also for last minute holiday gifts).

With Amazon Prime, you also have access to more movies if you pay for them. Like a rental service, you’ll pay a certain amount for a movie (usually a few dollars) and then have access to that content for 24 hours or however much time is listed. Or you can buy the movie outright for a normal disc price. Prime Instant Videos are free, Amazon Instant Videos (which have a larger selection) are not.

There are no ads with Amazon Prime’s content.


Whether you are a TV or movie aficionado, you’re likely taking advantage of online video streaming services, whether you are watching on your computer, TV, or mobile device. Which service you choose should depend on which features you feel most have what you’re looking for, whether that be Hulu Plus’ next-day TV show access or exclusive content, Netflix’s larger selection, or Amazon Prime’s extra perks. No matter which service you choose, all three are about the same price and all include free one-month trials, so it doesn’t hurt to try them all out and choose your favorite or favorites when the trials are up.

Additional Information
Hulu Plus
Hulu Plus Coupon: 2-week free trial with a .edu address - Activate
Hulu Plus Coupon Code: CIOQSA - 2 weeks free trial for new signups - Activate
Hulu Plus Coupon: 7 Day Free Pass - Activate
Netflix Coupon: Get a Free Trial - Activate
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