Well before Netflix’s current tit-for-tat with Hulu — over the timing of the release of their dueling Fyre Festival documentaries — the two streaming services were fierce competitors. There was no small amount of industry chatter back in 2017, for instance, when Hulu beat out Netflix to become the first streaming service to win an Emmy for best drama series for The Handmaid’s Tale — this despite Hulu’s being a newer kid on the block than Netflix in the steaming game.
With Hulu’s majority acquisition by Disney currently in the works, 2019 can only bring even more heated competition between the two services: for prestige projects, for cultural cachet — and, perhaps most of all, for subscribers.
To that end, this past Wednesday, just a week after Netflix raised its prices, Hulu pulled off yet another coup, announcing that it will be lowering the cost of its basic subscription package (with commercials) from $7.99 to $5.99 per month. The ad-free version of this plan will remain at $11.99, while its live TV package will go up in price from $39.99 to $44.99 per month. These changes will go into effect on Feb. 26.
As for Netflix, the streaming service had announced that its basic plan will increase from $7.99 to $8.99 per month, its HD Standard plan will go up from $10.99 to $12.99, and its 4K Premium plan will increase from $13.99 to $15.99.
So basically, it seems like Hulu's strategy is to one-up anything Netflix does. This is perhaps, erm, a bit shady, especially coming after this weird and public mutual declaration of love on Twitter earlier this month.
Which brings us to the question: Which service is right for you?
Well, it depends. While Hulu's most basic plan is $3 cheaper than Netflix's, it has ads, while Netflix's does not. Both basic plans only allow for watching on one screen at a time, and the same is true for Hulu's second-tier, ad-free plan.
So if you share a subscription with a friend or two, you'll definitely want more than a basic plan. Netflix's HD Standard plan can support two screens (for only $1 more a month than Hulu's ad-free plan), and its Premium plan can support up to four.
Of course, if you're looking for a deal that includes a live TV package, Netflix doesn't offer one, so you'll want to opt for Hulu in that case. But if you're looking strictly to cord cut and stream, the choice is yours to make based on what kind of shows you like to binge. Netflix reportedly spent $13 billion on original content in 2018 across 82 films and over 700 TV shows, and certainly has carved out a name for itself as King of Original Content, with much more to come this year. You can also download Netflix content to watch offline, which you can't with Hulu as of yet. And while Hulu produces less original content, it does offer 85,000 episodes of on-demand television, thousands of movies, and many Hulu Originals like that Emmy-scoring The Handmaid's Tale, a pretty sweet deal for its now even lower cost.
So if you're after the cheapest plan, Hulu is your best bet. But if you're in it for the content, Netflix is a better deal. (I'm personally partial to Netflix, though I def use my friend's Hulu when I need to catch up on Vanderpump.) And if you're not sure, you can try them first — both services offer a free 30-day trial.