Netflix Channels Television, Hulu Runs Classic Films

Dave Zatz —  February 16, 2011 — 8 Comments


I’m so confused… Netflix, known for streaming commercial-free movie content has launched a whole bunch of new television shows (and modernized TV site organization, as shown above). While Hulu Plus, a product of the television studios themselves, lands the Criterion Collection of classic films. The lines are obviously blurring.

Although monthly subscription fees are similar, the two services still take somewhat different approaches in presentation. Namely, Hulu insists on running commercial advertising on its paid tier. But wait, might even that be up for renegotiation? From the Hulu blog:

Criterion Hulu Plus subscribers will be able to watch the Criterion Collection free of interruption. (Any ads will play up front.)

Also interesting, as highlighted on Hacking Netflix, is Criterion’s rational for choosing Hulu over Netflix:

It has never been easy to find Criterion movies on Netflix — “Criterion” is not even a searchable term there. Compare that with Hulu’s willingness to develop a whole area of their site around us, brand the films associated with us, and develop the capability to show many of our supplements alongside our films.

Fortunately, I subscribe to both Netflix and Hulu Plus. And the biggest recent win for me was the reintroduction of The Daily Show and Colbert Report to Hulu. Which makes spending time on the gym cardio hamster wheels so much more tolerable.

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8 responses to Netflix Channels Television, Hulu Runs Classic Films

  1. Being able to access Hulu Plus and Netflix on the go on my iPhone is very nice. Unfortunately Apple appears to be trying to kill that so neither might be available after July.

    Also despite the recent additions, I don’t think Hulu will be around in a few years. At least not in the form it’s in now.

  2. FWIW, I already watch more TV series than movies on Netflix.

    Part of the reason is that Netflix has a decent selection of HD older seasons of TV series, while their HD series of movies is quite limited. And with only a few exceptions, (mainly documentaries), I avoid the SD material.

    (While it may less than 50% of my viewership, I actually do watch a fair bit of HD movies on Netflix, but that’s only because their selection of HD movies is almost exclusively indies, docs, and foreigns, which are all right up my alley. But their HD selection of TV series is quite mainstream.)

  3. Yah, as do (did) I. And mostly for the same reasons – lots of current HD TV shows, not so many current “Hollywood” HD movies.

  4. “Unfortunately Apple appears to be trying to kill that so neither might be available after July.”

    Rumor has it that Steve-o has decided to kill iOS in favor of a new SteveOS, which will only run if you sign a contract with Apple which automatically sends 30% of your paycheck and bank balance to Apple every month.

    From tomorrow’s WSJ:

    Jobs said, “We think that iOS has had a nice ride, but we think that SteveOS will provide a more magical way for our users to directly compensate us for restoring a childlike sense of wonder to their lives.”

  5. Dear Dave:

    It has come to our notice that your blog “Zatz Not Funny” is available on the public internet. Since all public internet content is viewable in MobileSafari®, we will need you to provide us with 30% of all advertising and associated revenue you derive from “Zatz Not Funny” by June 30, 2011, or else remove “Zatz Not Funny” from the public internet by that date.

    Thanks for your understanding,
    - Apple Legal

  6. “Also interesting, as highlighted on Hacking Netflix, is Criterion’s rational for choosing Hulu over Netflix: It has never been easy to find Criterion movies on Netflix — “Criterion” is not even a searchable term there”

    That is interesting.

    Being a fan of indies, foreigns, and classic older films, doing a “Criterion” search was one of the first things I tried upon getting Netflix streaming. And I was disappointed.


    I haven’t watched the Criterion releases on Netflix, since I quickly learned they seemed to all be in SD.

    But based on this news, I decided to see if some of their newer BluRay releases are in HD on Netflix. It’s interesting

    Seven Samurai isn’t listed as “HD available”, and Netflix doesn’t carry that title in BluRay, so the stream is SD, as would be expected.

    The Thin Red Line also isn’t listed as “HD available”. But Netflix does carry that title in BluRay, and the stream turns out to be 720p. Weird, but there is a tiny bit of logic there.


    FWIW, watching Netflix’ stream of The Thin Red Line on a lean-back is a good way of measuring their PQ. The movie has an utter abundance of clouds, skies, and water, which are all places where compression gets most noticeable.

    And Netflix ain’t bad. If you ripped your own BluRay down to 720p with an average data rate for hard drives, you’d do better. But what Netflix’ HD delivers is still respectable lean-back PQ.

    Even if some Criterion titles do show up in Hulu Plus in HD, they won’t look as good as the Netflix HD versions. (And nobody wants to watch The Thin Red Line on their phone in the gym…)

  7. Hmmm, the Criterion comment about Netflix searching is interesting. Netflix could have added a category for Criterion pretty easily. However, most Netflix UIs don’t offer an easy way to search by category.

  8. Anybody know why Psych is the only show with the cool new TV serial interface?

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