The battle for streaming supremacy had led to an arms race between top providers trying to separate themselves from the pack. And it’s clear why so much money is being invested in the various platforms — for a company to find itself behind at this early portion of the streaming revolution can be seen as an insurmountable mountain to climb. After all, with Netflix already leading the way with 70 million subscribers and counting, it has already cemented itself at the top of the food chain for years to come. But the other streaming platforms like Hulu? Not so much.
While Netflix is pretty much untouchable at the moment when it comes to catalog size, other streaming platforms have started to think outside the box to set themselves apart. Amazon Prime for example is buoyed by its offer of free Prime, two-day shipping while Hulu has oriented itself to fill specific viewing needs that Netflix and the others can’t provide. So what are Hulu’s unique features that make it a worthy competitor to Netflix? Here are five things that Hulu can provide viewers that Netflix can’t.
1. Fast turnaround of current TV
This is the most important exclusive feature from Hulu that makes it able to compete with Netflix. While Netflix streams new seasons of TV shows up to a year after they’ve premiered, Hulu often streams new episodes only 24 hours after they premiere on network TV. That means that for cord-cutters who still want to watch their favorite TV shows, Hulu is the streaming service that best allows a compromise between cable and cord-cutting.
2. Strong network partnerships
One reason why Hulu can provide such an outstanding catalog of TV shows with a quick turnaround is because of its partnership with some of the biggest media companies in the business — this of course stands in contrast to Netflix, which has had, and continues to have, its fair share of conflict with Hollywood. Hulu on the other hand currently represents a joint venture from The Walt Disney Company, 21st Century Fox, and Comcast, which gives viewers access to TV episodes from ABC, The CW, Fox, and NBC one day after premiering on TV. And in recent years Hulu has announced partnerships with both BBC and Showtime that continue to build upon its formidable connections.
3. Competitive pricing
Although Hulu and Netflix currently share a $7.99 monthly subscription cost, this is set to change soon as all long-time Netflix subscribers will see their price rise to $9.99/month (which is what brand new subscribers have been paying for some time now). That new Netflix price also results in Hulu’s $11.99/month ad-free service feeling much more reasonable (Hulu still allows commercials) while the $7.99/month plan remains one of the least expensive in the business. Additionally, don’t forget that Hulu also has a free option with a more limited catalog.
4. The Path, Difficult People, and other Hulu Originals
Each streaming platform has in recent years tried to establish a library of original content to offer subscribers exclusive material, but Hulu has more or less found itself on the outside looking in until recently. But now Hulu has begun its own push into original content in the hopes that it can compete with the sizable output of Netflix and Amazon Prime.
In just the past year, Hulu has added a series of critically acclaimed original programming that has received the kind of critical acclaim usually limited to Netflix and to a lesser extent Amazon Prime. This includes comedies Difficult People, from Julie Klausner and starring Klausner and Billy Eichner, and Casual, from Zander Lehmann featuring Jason Reitman as the director of its first two episodes. On the drama front, Hulu recently rolled out The Path starring Aaron Paul, Michelle Monaghan, and Hugh Dancy in a series about a fictional cult that has been renewed for a second season. And if you look at Hulu’s original programming coming in the near future you’ll see that the streaming service has clearly put itself in the mix as a top content creator for years to come.
5. The Criterion Collection (for now)
For fans of the Criterion Collection, Hulu provides an impressive catalog of classic and art-house films included with the paid subscription. However, this is all set to change in the third quarter of 2016 when Criterion will be branching off to form its own streaming service called FilmStruck with Turner Classic Movies. But for the time being, if you happen to be someone interested in the kinds of films Criterion Collection provides then Hulu is essentially worth the price of admission for that alone, featuring over 900 films from its catalog. If you happen to be interested in anything else the service provides, it can almost be considered a cherry on top.
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