Netflix may well think that HBO is the company’s ultimate rival, but for now, Hulu is the competitor with the closest business model, says a report from cordcutting.com. Both Hulu and Netflix offer streaming syndicated content mixed with original series, and both have fairly robust libraries – even if Netflix’s is shrinking.
But Netflix and Hulu don’t have the same content or the same user base, and there are some differences between the two rivals. Netflix began as a movie rental company that used mail-order and online streaming to kill of competitors like Blockbuster. Hulu started off streaming a catalogue that was largely drawn from TV reruns. Both companies have moved toward a point somewhere in the middle, but their legacies are still there: Hulu still has more television shows than Netflix, and Netflix still has a bias towards feature-length films.
According to the report, Hulu has 3,872 movies and 3,179 TV shows. That’s a total of 7,051 titles, 45 per cent of which are TV shows. Netflix has a smaller catalogue of 5,619 titles. Netflix has more movies than Hulu, with 4,393 titles, but they have fewer TV shows: just 1,226, or 22 per cent of their overall catalogue.
Another way of looking at this: Netflix has 61.4 per cent fewer TV shows than Hulu, while Netflix has 13.5 per cent more movie titles than Hulu.
So how are Hulu’s subscribers liking this robust TV catalogue? A lot, it seems. They tend to give consistently higher reviews to their TV shows than Netflix does. Netflix’s average user rating for TV content (excluding all movie ratings) is 3.73 stars. Hulu’s users rate their content at an average of 4.05 stars out of five. So Hulu users approve of their content 8.6 per cent more than Netflix users do. Put another way, the average Hulu TV show gets a B- from viewers, while the average Netflix TV show gets a C.
Does that mean that Hulu has better television shows than Netflix? Well, not necessarily. It’s possible that some other factor is leading to Hulu’s higher reviews. We know that the user rating systems are the same – both Hulu and Netflix user 1-5 star user rating systems (though Netflix is thinking about changing that). But differences in the user base could still be a factor. All we know for sure is that Hulu users are self-reporting a higher level of satisfaction with their TV show content – and that they get more of it than Netflix users do.