Comparing streaming content services isn’t always easy given there are so many different options out there now. Before you commit to a subscription, it’s good to know the options and what service will provide you the most value for your money. Here’s a comparison between Hulu Plus and iTunes, with one being a monthly service and that other being more of a on demand service.
Hulu Plus is an ad-supported streaming content service that is fairly cheap with its monthly subscription costs even though it still as a limited free version. It specializes more in TV shows, too. iTunes offers a variety of movies and TV show titles and you have the option to either buy/rent each title individually.
Both Hulu Plus and iTunes require that you register and create an account on the web with a username and password. But you can still browse around each of the movie streaming sites without an account, but you won’t be able to really test out any of the features or watch anything if you’re not signed in. But once you create an account, you can then access that account from various compatible devices.
Hulu Plus offers its customers a wide variety of devices that alloy you to access your account. The standard devices that are pretty much universally used with lots of services is PC and Mac. But content can also be streamed on all iOS devices, Android tablets and phones, Roku players, gaming systems like Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS and PS3, various TVs and Blu-ray players from the likes of Samsung, Sony, VIZIO, Panasonic and LG, Amazon’s Kindle and WD TV Media Players. Nintendo’s Wii will soon be added to the list. iTunes is more limited to the number of devices given it’s iOS based. It’s compatible devices include Apple TV, Macs and iOS devices, as well as PCs when you download iTunes.
Winner: Hulu Plus
According to Hulu Plus’ website, they have “thousands” of titles that include “critically-acclaimed and award-winning movies,” with many featuring no commercial interruption (but that doesn’t mean there are no ads, but more on that later). Some third party sites actually have the streaming content service having about 42,000 TV episodes from more than 1,650 current and classic TV shows, which is what Hulu Plus is known for. They do have a few films, suggesting about 2,500, with some exclusive titles from the Criterion Collection. iTunes has more than 75,000 digital downloads, including about 3,000 of them in HD and that’s including both movies (new and old releases) as well as TV shows up to the last season.
Winner: iTunes has more variety of both movie and TV show titles
Hulu Plus is a great streaming content service for those who love TV shows and not so great for movie lovers. Since it offers loads of TV shows, including the most recent seasons currently on TV right now (content is usually uploaded a day after the episode airs on TV), fans can instantly watch or re-watch what they may have missed or want to see it again. Fans can also try out the service with Hulu’s free account, but it doesn’t provide a lot of access to the good shows or content.
There’s no subscription needed with iTunes since it’s more of an a la carte basis, with you choosing the exact content you want for a pay-per-download price. But it does provide options. You can buy the movie (usually for the same price as DVD) or rent it for a much cheaper price, with HD usually always available for the buy/rent option. iTunes also allows viewers to buy an entire season of a TV show that automatic downloads new episodes about 24 hours after they air. They used to offer TV show rentals, but got rid of that option in August 2011. You can watch the rentals as many times as you want in the period you have it for, but it will then delete once time has expired on the rental. With Apple TV, you can watch iTunes rentals on your TV since it has it’s own menu system that you can choose movies and shows and download them directly to the set-top box. And with AirPlay you can play content on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch on your HDTV via Apple TV iTunes also offers lots of movie trailers so you can see what’s coming out in theaters soon.
Winner: iTunes doesn’t require any monthly subscription and you only pay for what you want to see/download, with buy or rent options.
TV shows from various channels, including NBC Universal, Fox, The Bio Channel, MTV Networks, National Geographic, Walt Disney and Public Broadcasting Service are all included when subscribing to Hulu Plus. There’s also an exclusive deal with Criterion Collection. iTunes’ movie catalogue includes content from 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros. Walt Disney Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios and Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Winner: iTunes has way more content given their huge library of movies and TV shows
Speed of Service
For iTunes, once you complete payment, the movie/show will begin downloading. You actually don’t have to wait for the download to completely finish before watching the movie, but there is a delay between the time a download starts and the time you can begin watching. This depends on the speed of your Internet connection. You can also watch some of the movie on your Mac, then halfway through, transfer to your iPod or iPhone and pick up watching where you last left off.
Winner: Hulu Plus streams instantly.
iTunes has many HD movie and TV show options that include both 720p and 1080p. Hulu Plus has movies that stream in HD when available with most shows showing in high-definition 720p.
Winner: iTunes has up to 1080p
With iTunes Apple TV, movies rented on here are not transferable to any other device, which can be a bummer. And if you don’t have Apple TV, you have to buy special connections/equipment to be able to watch anything from your computer or other device on your TV, which is just more money that you need to dish out. Despite having to pay a monthly premium for Hulu Plus you still have to deal with ads, which always suck.
Hulu Plus has a free version, but if you want access to it all, you’ll pay $7.99/month and you can cancel anytime. iTunes is a content on demand service with rentals ranging in price. Newer releases will cost about $3.99 for SD and go up to $4.99 for HD options. Older movie rentals usually run about $2.99. To buy titles, SD version can run anywhere from $10.99-$14.99 with HD options usually starting at $19.99 and up. It can be more when buying TV shows, too.
Winner: Hulu Plus’ monthly service is cheaper for those who know that they’ll always be buying movies/shows since iTunes rentals can easily add up over time.
iTunes has come out victorious in this match up. It provides a vast selection of titles for both movies and TV shows at various price points, with HD options, too. And you don’t have to sign up for a monthly subscription since you only buy what you want. It’s great for both movie and TV addicts and a good portion of the population everyone has some type of iOS device, though Hulu Plus is compatible with more devices.
Kristie Bertucci is an L.A.-based writer, who can't live without her MacBook Pro. When she's not writing, she's either reading or shopping (online, of course) and loves lazy days so she can catch up on her DVR-recorded shows and movies. She's definitely a Mac girl, she loves music and is currently on a mission to to have an insane and enviable iTunes library.