When it comes to the streaming landscape, there are plenty of content providers to choose from. With new platforms dropping on a frequent basis, it can be tough to keep tabs on what movies and shows are playing where, what exclusives one provider may offer over another, and how much one service costs compared to the rest.
While we’re well-versed on the bustling marketplace of streaming services, it pays to know that many of the O.G. platforms are still some of the best. Hulu has been around for over a decade and it’s still one of the best apps in our opinion, offering a massive collection of movies and TV shows of every genre. It’s partnered with many of today’s leading TV networks, so Hulu subscribers will often have the option to watch episodes of their favorite shows the day after they air. Competitively priced and available across a number of bundling options, Hulu is a tried and true service, and for good reason.
Disney+ is still too new to be considered a “classic” streaming app, but it has quickly become one of the most popular and content-packed services. Home to a near-endless trove of Disney movies, TV shows, and acquired materials from the likes of Marvel, Lucasfilm, National Geographic, and 21st Century Fox, there’s certainly no shortage of watch-worthy offerings.
But which of these two platforms is best for you? To help you decide, we’ve put together this side-by-side comparison of Hulu and Disney+.
At their cores, Hulu and Disney+ are both on-demand streaming services with big libraries full of movies and television shows. That’s more or less where the similarities end. While Disney+ is focused on bringing the biggest brands in the entertainment industry into your living room, Hulu’s major hook is its variety and an extensive collection of current television programs. For now, anyway. Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox in 2019 gave the company control of Hulu, which has created a number of interesting bundling options for both services (more on that below).
Like Netflix, Hulu currently aggregates content from various studios, making them available to stream in one place. By contrast, Disney+ is the streaming home for Disney’s big studios: Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, National Geographic, and Disney itself. If you want to stream The Empire Strikes Back, Avengers: Endgame, Toy Story, or The Little Mermaid, Disney+ is your only option. If you’re looking for a more eclectic collection of things to watch, Hulu is your best bet.
The same holds when it comes to the original content. For the most part, Disney+’s big originals will be based on its major franchises. The Mandalorian, Disney+’s flagship show at launch, is a live-action series set in the Star Wars Universe.
Down the line, you can expect more Star Wars series, such as an Obi-Wan Kenobi series starring Ewan McGregor and upcoming superhero shows like She-Hulk and Ms. Marvel, both serving as branch-offs of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
While most of Disney’s originals are still in the works, Hulu already hosts a solid collection of original series that lean closer to prestige TV trends. The Handmaid’s Tale is a politically charged thriller based on the classic Margaret Atwood novel. Castle Rock is an ambitious mash-up of Stephen King’s various creations. Shrill is a feminist comedy inspired by writer Lindy West, while Framework is an auto-biographical dramedy focused on an American Muslim’s experiences.
Hulu has much more new stuff too. One of Hulu’s biggest selling points is its broadcast television library, which is filled with shows currently airing. While Disney+ gets new seasons of Disney Channel cartoons and live-action series sometime after they air on television, Hulu contains programs from almost all major networks and several cable channels.
What’s more, unlike Netflix, you don’t have to wait for seasons to end before new episodes appear on Hulu. Most of the time, Hulu gets new installments of a show a few days (or less) after they air on television. As the streaming wars rage and studios increasingly pull their licensed content to air on their own streaming services, this may change. But for now, Hulu is a great way to stay in the loop.
Also, since Disney+ carries Disney branding, any mature content Disney owns or produces will be sent to Hulu rather than Disney+. For example, don’t expect Deadpool to appear on Disney+.
Finally, Hulu also offers an add-on service, Hulu + Live TV, that will let you stream several live network and cable channels as they air over the Hulu app. This costs a lot more and doesn’t target the same audience as Disney+ or regular Hulu, but it’s still worth knowing about.
Disney+’s pricing structure is easy. It costs $8 a month or $80 if you pay for a whole year upfront. That’s it. While those prices may change over time (and, occasionally, you can find deals to get it cheaper or even free), right now, that’s all there is to it.
With Hulu, you have two options. The basic Hulu service is only $7, but there’s a catch. Remember how we said Hulu gets new TV episodes a day after they air? Well, you can watch them, but you’ll have to deal with ads at every commercial break. For $13, Hulu will remove the ads, although a short advertisement may still play at the beginning of a very few selected programs.
If you also want Hulu + Live TV, you’ll pay $65 for access to the regular Hulu library or $71 for the ad-free Premium tier (note that the $71 subscription only removes ads from Hulu’s regular on-demand content — you’ll still see ads when watching live television).
You can also get add-ons for Hulu, including HBO Max for $15, Cinemax for $10, Showtime for $11, and STARZ for $9.
If you want both Hulu and Disney+, another option is buying ESPN+, Disney’s third streaming service. Do note that there’s currently no Disney+ and Hulu bundle that includes Hulu’s ad-free option.in a $14-per-month bundle that packages Disney+, the ad-supported Hulu plan, and
Currently, Hulu offers free trials for its three most popular subscription plans, giving you 30 days free with the standard Hulu plan and Hulu without ads. For new Hulu + Live TV subscribers, this version of the platform is free for the first week.
Currently, Disney+ offers no free trial whatsoever.
Both Disney+ and Hulu should run on all modern streaming devices. Both services run on Android and iOS devices, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Fire tablets, Google Chromecast devices, Android TV, Mac and PC browsers, LG and Samsung Smart TVs, as well as Xbox and PlayStation game systems. Some older models, however, may not support Disney+.
Besides, while the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3, 4, and 5, and the Nintendo Switch all support Hulu, they don’t currently support Disney+ — though the latest-gen Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X and S do offer access to Disney+. Disney hopes to put Disney+ on the Switch at some point, but given that the other two consoles are almost two generations old, they probably won’t ever see it.
On logging in, both services greet you with curated lists of things to watch, but finding new, lesser-known material can be cumbersome. On Disney+, you can filter content by the franchise, which helps, but if you’re looking for more obscure properties, prepare to do a little bit of browsing. Disney+ launched without some key features, with no way to even keep your place in movies and shows you’re watching. It’s since improved, but its search functionality still isn’t the best.
As for audio and video quality, Hulu lags behind Disney+ badly, along with many other streaming companies. Hulu finally supports 4K Ultra HD, but it’s limited to select Hulu original programming. Everything else tops out at regular 1080p. Even worse, most Hulu content is stuck with stereo sound, even on programming with 5.1 audio on other services. Occasionally, you’ll find a TV show or movie on Hulu that’s in 5.1, but the options are few and far between.
Disney+, on the other hand, offers 4K Ultra HD with HDR on a bunch of content — including some older movies, like the original Star Wars trilogy. Its HDR support includes Dolby Vision on newer productions, and it also offers Dolby Atmos audio on selected programming. Unlike Netflix, you won’t pay extra for the higher-quality sound or visuals, either.
Additionally, Disney+ also offers parental controls to keep younger viewers from watching certain programming, as well as offline downloading for watching movies and shows on mobile devices without the need for a web connection. Offline downloads are also available with Hulu, although you’ll be limited to 25 downloads at a time.
Finally, Hulu gives users two simultaneous streams (although Hulu + Live TV subscribers can upgrade to an unlimited screen option), while Disney+ supports four.
This choice depends on what you prefer to watch. You know Disney+ is the best option if your movie consumption consists mostly of Star Wars and Marvel blockbusters and if you’re nostalgic for old ’90s cartoons. Disney+ also streams Disney Channel original series and offers high-quality video and sound.
If you’re not a huge Disney fan but love watching what’s on “real” TV, then you want to subscribe to Hulu. It’s a great service for keeping tabs on what’s airing on network and cable channels, it has some of the most buzzed-about original series on the market, and the HBO and Hulu + Live TV add-ons are nice options to have.
It won’t break the bank to subscribe to both, and that’s what we recommend. That $14-per-month Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ bundle is a great deal, even if you will have to sit through some advertisements.
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