What’s the Best Video Streaming Service for Families? Netflix vs. Hulu Plus

©Hulu Kids Screen Shot
©Hulu Kids Screen Shot

With the iPad, iPhone, Wii, Xbox 360 and televisions that connect to the internet, video streaming services like Hulu Plus and Netflix are increasingly popular family entertainment options, available for a monthly subscription fee. Here are my experiences to help you decide, if you are looking for the best video streaming service for your family.

Hulu Plus – I recently received a free, 3 month subscription to Hulu Plus to test out their kids movies. I mainly use the service on our iPad. I’m not impressed at all with the kids section because it is limited to only about 40 shows, that range for all age groups.  Instead, what I do like about it is that I often use it to catch up on recent television shows for myself that I may have forgotten to DVR or want to watch inconspicuously on the iPad. The only drawback with Hulu Plus service is that the television shows have several 30 seconds commercials throughout, similar to what you would find if you watched the shows for free on the ABC/NBC or CBS apps. However, the kids content is commercial-free with Hulu-Plus. Given that you pay for this service, I really don’t believe there should be any commercials, period. Hulu Plus, does have more current programming, where Netflix television shows often include past season episodes. Similar to Netflix, if you have the Hulu Plus app, you can watch it on the go in the car, or on wireless networks, which is pretty convenient. In case you are interested, here’s a referral link to Hulu.

Netflix – We’ve personally subscribed and paid for Netflix for several years. Originally we received the DVD’s at home and used the online streaming service through or Wii. Once they split the two programs and added an additional cost, we decided that we would keep the online streaming because we could rent movies instead from the local RedBox for $1. While trying to keep costs down for several years we only had Netflix, and it has proved to be invaluable to our family. Like Hulu Plus, I can stream it on the iPad or on my iPhone and instead of paying extra for a DVD player for the car, I hand over my iPhone when we are on the road so he can watch his shows. They have a separate interface for kids now on the iPad that’s extremely easy for my 3-year-old to navigate. Not only does it include familiar children’s shows like Dinosaur Train, Super Why, Sesame Street, The Backyardigans, YoGabbaGabba, Curious George, Phineas and Ferb, Bob the Builder, Wonder Pets, SpongeBob Squarepants, and there are some feature length Disney movies like Dumbo and The Tigger Movie. It has a considerable more amount of content then Hulu Plus and it’s about the same price per month. I personally love using Netflix if I want to start watching a new television show in order to catch up on old seasons, but Hulu Plus is better for newer episodes. On the Netflix iPad app you can change the volume right on the screen without having to push any of the side buttons, and though I don’t find the feature length movies to be fantastic, my husband has personally enjoyed watching dozens of the documentaries.

So if we had to choose one,  I’d personally pick Netflix over Hulu Plus, especially if you are looking for an additional streaming video service for travel or use on the iPad/iPhone, if you have children. Netflix offers our family a lot more content for our dollar. In my opinion, Hulu Plus offers the same type of content that you can get already get for free  on the iPad or on Demand.

If you are looking for some free iPad apps for kids shows, make sure to download PBS Kids, Disney Junior and the Disney Channel apps as they include a few episodes of their popular shows that can be played in their entirety without commercials.

Are there any services I’ve missed? What’s your favorite?

I received a free 3 month subscription to Hulu Plus for the purpose of a review. I personally pay for our Netflix monthly subscription. Any other opinions are my own.

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