Hulu VS Hulu Plus

Hulu VS Hulu Plus

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Ryan Michael Downey

When searching for the best apps with which to view television you can’t miss Hulu. was one of the first websites to offer a legal way to view  television content online. Hulu has one name but offers two different services.

Hulu is a popular way to watch TV online.
Hulu is a popular way to watch TV online.

 The services are Hulu and Hulu Plus. While the two are similar there are key differences between the two add supported services.

Mobile Access on the Go
Hulu Plus can be accessed from mobile devices on any steady Wifi Network at home or on the go. The free version of Hulu cannot be accessed on mobile devices. If a user attempts to visit the Hulu web address they are shuttled to an invitation to download the app for Hulu Plus.  

Television Selections
Both Hulu and Hulu Plus offer users the ability to watch television shows online. The difference when it comes to the television selections is that Hulu typically only allows the last five aired episodes of any given series to be viewed online. Hulu Plus subscribers in many cases get access to full seasons of many shows and in some cases full series runs of shows like the Cosby Show and 3rd Rock from the sun. Hulu plus customers also have access to numerous Hulu exclusive shows from outside the US market. Customers can even watch numerous shows that had limited runs before getting cancelled.

Hulu has a diverse but limited selection of movies from multiple studios and genres. Hulu Plus has a large selection of movies from multiple studios.  The movie selection from Hulu Plus is a different mix then typically found on Netflix and includes a number of art house films, independent films and international fare that cannot be seen on any other service.

Is There a way to watch Hulu on TV Without Hulu Plus?
Yes. One very simple way of course is to connect a computer to a TV and go to the Hulu website. HDTV owners can connect a computer with an HDMI port to their television with an HDMI cable that can be purchased for as little as 3-4 dollars online at Amazon and other retailers. Electronics stores like Radio Shack and Best Buy tend to charge more for HDMI cords sometimes 10 times the prices online. Another way to watch Hulu on TV for free is with the Google Chromecast. The Chromecast can mirror Google Chrome tabs from a PC on a television screen. This is typically dependable but has been known to be buggy. The Apple TV also allows users to mirror compatible Apple laptops and is known for its ease of use and dependability. Last but not least is PlayOn.  PlayOn is a server based program that can run on multiple devices including tablets and phones, game consoles, numerous set top devices including the Roku line of products.  PlayOn requires users run a separate program on a computer and either a monthly fee or one time charge for access.

Should I make the investment in Hulu Plus?
For the average consumer the difference between Hulu and Hulu Plus comes down to ease of use and convenience. Hulu Plus is a one click solution that is available on multiple platforms for a monthly subscription fee and is the only way to watch Hulu on the go. If that is the most important factor in a decision than it is most likely worth $7.99. If you access Hulu primarily from home are willing to employ other methods and hardware it may be worth the savings. If users are keeping up with their favorite shows weekly the difference between Hulu and Hulu Plus is hardly noticeable.


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  1. While this is a fair appraisal of HULU you seem to be oblivious to the fact that the commercials that HULU includes in both the free and paid versions are one reason this service has not grown as much as it could. I especially find commercials in something I paid for irritating and so have used this service but once or twice in recent months. HULU says “We include advertisements in Hulu Plus in order to reduce the monthly subscription price of the service. Premium content — especially from the current TV season — is not only expensive to make and license, but we also want to compensate our content partners fairly for the valuable entertainment they provide.” Maybe ads are not annoying to you,but they are to me. Time is money.

  2. That is an interesting perspective. I didn’t think the story asked any questions about why more people don’t use Hulu Plus. I’ll have to give it another read through. The story is meant to clear up confusion as to what Hulu Plus is in comparison to Hulu. I wrote it because so many sites that review things like the Apple TV and Roku say that Netflix and “Hulu” are offered instead of pointing out that it is the pay service “Hulu Plus” that is offered. I did make an addendum to the opening paragraph referring to the two services as “add supported” In general I view Hulu and Hulu Plus as television channels so commercials don’t stand out to me which is why I didn’t point it out. Most of the TV and movie services on line have adds. I would not be the slightest bit surprised if Netflix and Amazon had commercials one day.

    If Hulu dropped its adds do you think that their subscriber base would rival Netflix?

    Thank you for your participation and support for our site.It would be so great to see respectful informative discussions become more prominent here.

  3. I tried to use Hulu to watch recent episodes of Once Upon a Time and Resurrection. In both cases, I was confronted with a message that these episodes are only available on Hulu Plus. Therefore, shouldn’t you mention the most important, relevant, and obvious difference between Hulu and Hulu Plus: you need Hulu Plus to watch the most recent episodes of many shows? Hulu will only enable you to watch very old episodes or those from previous seasons. You comparison (and virtually every other comparison available online) would have readers believe that there is really no difference between Hulu and Hulu Plus when it comes to the choice of content. Nothing could be farther from the truth given that only Hulu Plus will allow you to watch the most recent content. To me, that is by far the most important difference.

    • Steven, the delay has not always been the case. And it was not when the article was posted. There are still many shows that are on the day after they air. The last episode of Once Upon A Time is on episode 16. Episode 15 is available for viewing. I’ll make a view updates to make sure it is timely but to say that only very old episodes of shows are available is a stretch.

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