HuluPlus & Netflix
February 1, 2014
By Scott Lewis
In attempting to "cut the cord" on my cable bill, I have given
HuluPlus and Netfix a try. I have to say... if you want to cut the cord
these two paid subscription DO NOT provide enough content to do it. You
will be looking elsewhere for much of the TV shows you want to watch.
Lets take a look at both services and see how they stack up on their own (since they do not really compete with each other).
Let's start with the last con for HuluPlus. I started using it a few
days before the TV show Intelligence aired its first episode. I could
not find it. I initially thought this sucked because as soon as I learn
of a new show I am interested in, I would want to find it to subscribe
to it without having to remember when it airs. This is extra important
when the commercials on HuluPlus don't include upcoming TV shows.
Unfortunately, Intelligence never aired on HuluPlus, so I don't know if
this is really a con or not. But without more information I will leave
it as is.
When I first setup HuluPlus I went through their popular shows. I saw "Sean Saves the World." I wanted to see this before it aired, but never got around to checking it out. This was the perfect chance. I was able to go back and watch this show from episode 1. Perfect. It looked great on my Plasma TV too. I liked the pause and resume, and that it remembered where I left off in an episode (when it froze during a commercial break and required me to restart the show). Overall I liked the experience, but it could be smoother. With this service I have to get used to having to watch commercials again, and the lag of restarting the shows as well. At least it has up to date TV shows (more to come).
When I found the search feature my first search was a curiosity... to see if I could find any of my car shows. I did a search for "Muscle Car," a TV show on Spike (that changed to "Detroit Muscle" for 2014). With this search it showed me an episode of "My Classic Car." Cool, I used to watch that, but stopped because it interfered with other shows I was recording on my DVR. There was no way to navigate to the series from the episode it showed me in the HuluPlus interface (oops!). So I did a new search for "My Classic Car" and navigated to the series from there. Unfortunately, HuluPlus only listed 3 seasons. I believe the first 3 seasons. I think this show has 18 seasons. So much for catching up on this show. And no... I did not find it at all on Netflix either.
After deciding I liked HuluPlus I went through the top 100 "most popular" shows. I found a few shows that I normally watch, and subscribed to them. Then I started searching for all the shows I watch, to subscribe to them as well. That's when it hit me that HuluPlus sucks. They have a very limited selection of popular TV Shows currently on the air. Here is the list I used (listed alphabetically):
* Almost Human (FOX)
* Arrow (CW)
? Beauty and the Beast (CW)
* Being Human (SYFY)
The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
Beware the Batman (CN)
* The Blacklist (NBC)
Blue Bloods (CBS)
Body of Proof (ABC)
The Bridge (FX)
Comic Book Men (AMC)
? Covert Affairs (USA)
Criminal Minds (NBC)
* Crossing Lines (NBC)
Franklin & Bash (TNT)
* The Following (FOX)
The Glades (A&E)
? Hannibal (NBC)
? Haven (SYFY)
Hawaii Five-0 (CBS)
How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
King & Maxwell (TNT)
Low Winter Sun (AMC)
* Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)
Men at Work (TBS)
The Mentalist (CBS)
* The Michael J. Fox Show (NBC)
Person of Interest (CBS)
? Psych (USA)
* Revolution (NBC)
Rizzoli & Isles (TNT)
Royal Pains (USA)
* Sleepy Hollow (FOX)
? Suits (USA)
? Top Gear US (HIST)
Under the Dome (CBS)
The Walking Dead (AMC)
? White Collar (USA)
Items with asterisks (*) are shows you can watch on HuluPlus. Once with question marks (?) were listed on HuluPlus' Web Page of shows it supports. But it really does not. The items with question marks are available in some limited way on their web site. They are NOT available on HuluPlus on a TV. I found this hugely disappointing.
It may have been unfair to include Body of Proof, Vegas, King & Maxwell, and Low Winter Sun as they were all cancelled. I was just using the list I pulled from my DVR before unplugging it. However, the lack of them in the search results means they were never on HuluPlus, and you can't watch old episodes... something HuluPlus is supposed to be good for.
So we get about 20% of the shows that interest me with HuluPlus. I saved about $60/month by dropping my DVR and going to basic cable. At $8/month for 20 % of my shows... I would have pay about $40/month to get the shows I want without my cable company gouging me. Sounds like 6 of one, half dozen of another.
Of interesting note are the coverage of the networks.
ABC has only one show (Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). This could be me, as it is the only active show I seem to watch from that network. I'll have to check into that.
BTW... in doing the research for this article I found that I knew almost nothing about the networks most of these shows aired on, and didn't even know the day they aired for half of them. I just let my DVR record them, and watched from a list. I am going to miss that.
Back to the shows... NBC is well covered with The Michael J. Fox Show, The Blacklist, Crossing Lines, Revolution, and Sean Saves the World (mentioned above but not on the list), but surprisingly does not have Criminal Minds. That seems like a strange exceptions. Hannibal came up on the web page, but not when searching HuluPlus itself. That's a shame.
CW is covered with Arrow, but Beauty and the Beast only showed up on the web page, not in HuluPlus. I remember seeing Reign and The Vampire Diaries (which I used to watch), but these don't interest me enough to matter, hence not being on the list. I was surprised that Smallville was missing for catching up on old episodes. I can only hope the upcoming Flash series will be on HuluPlus.
FOX has Almost Human, The Following and Sleepy Hollow meaning that all I watch on FOX is handled on HuluPlus.
I saw several USA Network & SYFY shows on the web page, but not on HuluPlus. Shame, shame.
Then things start falling apart fast. CBS, TNT, FX, AMC, A&E and TBS are all missing from HuluPlus. That sucks. BTW... Top Gear US only has seasons 1 & 2 on HuluPlus, not 3 or 4.
So... is HuluPlus worth it. For $7.99/month for 9-10 shows... NO! If the ones with question marks were properly available then yes. But as it is HuluPlus is too expensive for the downsides that come with its service. I dropped HuluPlus two days before the free trial expired.
I started my search a little differently for Netflix. After all, I
used to be a faithful subscriber to is mail order DVD rental service
I did a search for Tom Cruise and it only listed 4 movies. At least Jack Reacher was one of them (I really liked it). They had Mission Impossible 2 & 4 but not 1. That totally sucks. They had none of his truly good work, such as The Firm, A Few Good Men, Color of Money, etc.
When searching for Morgan Freeman there were only 11 movies. Which is odd since he has been in almost every movie ever made. It included "A Long Came a Spider" but not "Kiss the Girls." That seems like an odd omission as these movies are both Alex Cross movies. Oops. I really hoped to see Deep Impact. I recently watch Armegeddon with my sons, and it would be nice to counter that with the other "asteroid destroying the world" movie that came out the same year.
A search for Batman revealed no Batman movies... and no Batman The Animated Series. Just Batman The Brave and the Bold and Batman Beyond for TV Shows. Following this a little further... they have Justice League The Animated Series, but not Batman TAS or Superman TAS. And then no Superman movies at all (as of this writing, but would "Man of Steel" show up?). I'll have to see how long after a movie comes out on DVD & Blu-Ray that it shows up on Netflix streaming, if at all for some.
Of course I could not stop there, while I was on a super hero roll... there is no Smallville, no Flash, no Lois & Clark. They do list all 5 seasons of the The Incredible Hulk (with Bill Bixby & Lou Ferrigno), but not Linda Carter's Wonder Woman from the same era. And sort of in the same vein... no Six Million Dollar Man (though I suspect that since this show is only available from its own web site on DVD there is a huge licensing issue going on with it).
Next up... Star Trek. They have all five TV shows... Star Trek TOS, Star Trek TNG & DS9, Voyager & Enterprise. I had to search for Deep Space Nine and Enterprice separately from just the term Star Trek. That sucks for not being able to list all the Star Trek content in a proper way. Also, they only have 6 Trek movies, Wrath of Khan (2), Search for Spock (3), Voyage Home (4), Generations (7), First Contact (8) & Nemesis (10). Notably absent is the 2009 Star Trek movie... there is no valid reason not to have this available for streaming this late after its release. Also missing are movies 1, 5, 6, & 9. And, of course, the 2013 movie, but from looking for Man of Steel I did not expect it to be there.
Searching like I did above was not very productive. I decided I needed a fair way to search Netflix. I decided to take a two pronged approach to movie searching. I was not trying to stump Netflix, just see what they have that I would really like to see on their service. I searched for every movie I own on Blu-Ray (I could have added DVD movies as well, but I did not, since I haven't pulled out a DVD in years). After that... I continued with movies I want on buy on Blu-Ray (more in a moment).
Here are all the movies I own on Blu-Ray. The titles in bold are on Netflix:
From Russia With Love
Live and Let Die
The Man With the Golden Gun
The Spy Who Loved Me
For Your Eyes Only
Quantum of Solace
2001 Space Odyssey
2010 The Year We Make Contact
50 First Dates
The Adventures of Robinhood
Air Force One
American History X
Batman the Movie
Batman The Dark Knight
Bourne Series (first 3 movies)
Captain America - The First Avenger
The Cincinnati Kid
Dawn of the Dead
Live Free and Die Hard
From Dusk Til Dawn
The Expendibles 2 only
The Godfather 1 & 2
Good Will Hunting
The Green Hornet
The Hunger Games
The Hunt for Red October
In The Line of Fire
Iron-Man 1 & 2
The Italian Job
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Lord of the Rings (1, 2, 3)
The Lost Boys
Man of Steel
Mission Impossible Ghost Protocal
Pirates of the Caribbean (1 only)
Smokey and the Bandit
Sherlock Holmes (I have 1 & 2, but only 1 was on Netflix)
Star Trek (II, III, IV, VIII, 2009, some on Netflix, read the text above.)
Star Wars (IV, V & VI)
The Terminator (I have 1 & 2, but only 2 was on Netflix)
Netflix got 14 out of 99.
As you can see... Netflix is seriously lacking in the movies I like to watch. They only have 14% of my movies on their streaming service. That's a shame, especially since many of these movies are fairly old, and they could at least stream a DVD quality version of them, if not an HD version.
Now for the movies I want. Note, this is a list I keep of possible future Blu-Ray purchases. I have been maintaining this list for about three years now. These are movies I MAY want to buy on Blu-Ray, but haven't. Some are not available on Blu-Ray (with asterisks) and some I have not decided for sure I want to spend the money (with question marks). I use this list when shopping on Amazon, and need to push an order over a certain dollar amount to get free shipping.
This list makes a perfect opportunity to search Netflix. Especially the movies with questions marks. If they are on Netflix... that adds value to Netflix for allowing me to see the movies "one more time" to decide if I really want to buy them. It also has the chance to allow me to remove movies from the list if I can just watch it on Netflix instead. Let's see how this list does. Again, the bold movies are on Netflix:
All The President's Men ???
The American President
Arsenic and Old Lace ???
Back to the Future (1 only)
Beverly Hills Cop
The Big Chill
Blade Runner ???
Blast From the Past
The Cannonball Run ???
The Color of Money
Doctor Zhivago ???
The Enforcer / Sudden Impact
Every Which Way But Loose / Any Which Way You Can ???
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
A Few Good Men
Field of Dreams
First Blood / Rambo
Full Metal Jacket
The Great Escape ***
Good Morning, Vietnam
High Crimes ???
The Incredibles ???
Indiana Jones (1 & 3 only)
Interview with a Vampire
Jurassic Park ???
Just Like Heaven ***
Last Man Standing / The Last Boy Scout ???
Mission Impossible (1 only, already have 4) 2 & 4 only
The Mummy ***
Must Love Dogs
North by Northwest ???
Office Space ???
An Officer and a Gentleman ***
The Pelican Brief
Pulp Fiction ???
Rebel Without a Cause ??? ***
The Right Stuff ***
Shaft ??? (Netflix has the 2000 version, not the original)
The Shawshank Redemption
Sin City ???
The Spirit of St. Louis ??? ***
Superman The Movie
Thomas Crown Affair
Van Helsing ???
War Games ***
Wayne's World ???
Young Guns ???
10 out of 75, about 13%. About the same as above.
I will give huge props to Netflix for their searching. Although the results are sometimes lacking... it is fast, and when something doesn't show up... there is often a link of "similar" items you can look at.
The search on HuluPlus is super slow, and frustrating to use. Granted... it could just be my Panasonic Blu-Ray player that is at fault for the speed. My LG Blu-Ray player does not have a HuluPlus app, but does have Netflix. It's Netflix app is much slicker looking than the Panasonic's app, but it is also much less informative. The LG app for Netflix also did a poor job of remembering where I left off in a series. It wanted me to resume on a episode I stopped at the ending credits. The Panasonic version of Netflix offered to start me with the next episode. I really like that.
What about TV Shows on Netflix. In light browsing I saw that all the
seasons of Magnum P.I. are present, and all the episodes of the original
Hawaii Five-0. That's kind of cool. I am sure I can find lots of old
shows I would like to revisit from my youth here. So maybe Netflix is
worth it even if popular/current movies are lacking.
How to test? I went off the reservation on this one. I started by making a list of TV shows I currently watch, or have recently watched and had at least two seasons already out on DVD or Blu-Ray. Then I started thinking of old shows I really liked, and might consider revisiting. Then I decided to use a web site that lists episodes of all TV shows (I mean ALL TV shows). I started building a list of shows that interested me, that I might like to revisit from the past... and shows I thought were "big" in their day (even if I did not watch them, like Frasier).
The list below got out of hand. Sorry. If no seasons
are listed it is because the show is not on Netflix. I highlighted some
shows as follows:
Black = I will watch these shows.
I will watch as least some episodes of these shows. Some I will
watch all of them (Hack, for instance), or watch until I get bored.
Blue = I would watch episodes of these shows, if they were on Netflix.
These are basically the shows I would like to see at least some
of. Regretfully they are not available, so if Netflix is reading
this... you your list of shows to acquire.
Pink - I may watch some episodes of these shows.
Since these are on Netflix, I may curb some idle curiosity with
these since they are available, but I don't care enough for them
to have any impact on whether I keep a Netflix subscription.
Many of these shows I really liked the early seasons, so I will
probably watch the first season or so of then, like Burn Notice,
Chuck, The Dead Zone, Life & Psych.
Red = I am surprised these were not on Netflix.
IMO these shows really should be on Netflix. For instance...
Veronica Mars. I would watch this in preparation for the new
movie coming out, and I can't believe there is an expensive
licensing issue with a show like it.
Essential those in Blue are the shows I am sorry were not on Netflix. Nothing truly special here, but they are mostly shows I saw sporadically when they were original on, or I just liked them enough I would be glad to watch re-runs of them over the crappy re-runs on TV today.
|TV Show||Seasons on Netflix|
|The 4400||4 of 4|
|The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.|
|Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955/1985)||3 of 7 (1955 series only)|
|Archer||3 of 5|
|The A-Team||5 of 5|
|The Avengers (1961)|
|Battlestar Galactica (1987)||1 of 1|
|Battlestar Galactica (2003)||4 of 4|
|Being Human US||3 of 4|
|The Big Bang Theory|
|The Bionic Woman (1976)|
|B.J. and the Bear|
|The Bob Newhart Show|
|The Brady Bunch|
|Breaking Bad||5 of 5|
|Buck Rogers in the 25th Century|
|Buffy the Vampire Slayer||7 of 7|
|Burn Notice||6 of 6|
|The Carol Burnett Show|
|Charles in Charge|
|Cheers||11 of 11|
|Chuck||5 of 5|
|Comic Book Men||2 of 3|
|The Cosby Show|
|The Courtship of Eddie's Father|
|Covert Affairs||3 of 4|
| I was really hoping
Dallas was going to be on Netflix. Not because I liked the
show much. Because my cousin had a small, but recurring role on it. In fact, her
character was the #1 suspect for shooting J.R. As I remember it... her
character's husband killed himself after J.R. wiped him out. The scene in the
hospital of the season opening.. the police asked if anyone had a reason to kill
J.R. and my cousin's character, Marilee Stone, was named first. I was kind of
hoping to find a couple of episodes to show my sons, just so they could see a
little fame in the family. I clearly remember back in those days... my
grandmother was first cousins with Audrey, whose daughter was Fern, the
actress on the show. Audrey would call my grandmother, and my grandmother
would call us to watch the episodes she would be in. So I watched Dallas as a
teenager for that reason.
|The Dead Zone||6 of 6|
|Dexter||8 of 8|
|Dharma & Greg|
|The Dick Van Dyke Show||5 of 5|
|Doctor Who Classic||18 of 26|
|Doctor Who Modern||6 of 7|
|Dollhouse||2 of 2|
|Doogie Howser, M.D.|
|The Dresden Files|
|The Drew Carey Show|
|The Dukes of Hazzard|
|Eleventh Hour (UK/US)|
|Eureka||5 of 5|
|Everybody Loves Raymond||9 of 9|
|The Facts of Life|
|The Fall Guy|
|Family Ties||7 of 7|
|I would love to show my sons the open to this show... just once.|
|Franklin & Bash|
|Frasier||11 of 11|
|Fringe||5 of 5|
|The Fugitive (1963/2000)|
|Game of Thrones|
|Ghost Whisperer||5 of 5|
|The Greatest American Hero|
|Hack||2 of 2|
|Hardcastle and McCormick|
|The Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Mysteries||3 of 3|
|Harper's Island||1 of 1|
| I really liked Harper's
Island. Especially since they stayed true to it... A mini
series that was very good and they didn't try to find some BS way to extend it.
Like a piece of art. But I don't know for sure if I will watch it since I know who
the bad guy is, as it was very much a mystery the first time watching.
|Haven||3 of 4|
|Hawaii Five-0 (1968/2010)||12 of 12 (1968 series only)|
|Only out of curiosity and to show my sons the opening.|
|Heroes||4 of 4|
|Hill Street Blues|
|How I Met Your Mother||8 of 9|
|The Incredible Hulk||5 of 5|
|The Invisible Man (1975/2000)|
|Jake and the Fatman|
|Jesse Stone||4 of 8 (made for TV movies)|
|Knight Rider||4 of 4|
|Kolchak: The Night Stalker||1 of 1|
|Kung Fu: The Legend Continues|
|Kyle XY||3 of 3|
|Life||2 of 2|
|Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman|
|MacGyver||7 of 7|
|Mad Men||5 of 6|
| I really loved this show
when I was a kid. I was a Bill Bixby fan from The
Courtship of Eddie's Father. So, of course, after this show I had to watch The
Trivia: Bill Bixby wanted this show to be as accurate as possible, so all the
magic done in the show Bill really learned and did. No camera trickery!!!
|Magnum P.I.||8 of 8|
|The Man from U.N.C.L.E.|
|Merlin||5 of 5|
|Mission Impossible||7 of 7|
|The Mod Squad|
|Mork and Mindy|
|Again... another one to just show my sons once... where Robin Williams started.|
|My Secret Identity|
|Mythbusters||10 of 14|
| I only want to watch
this show for two episodes. The character Larry always
introduced himself as "Hi, I'm Larry, this is my brother Daryl and my other
brother Daryl." There was an episode where they tell how one of the Daryls
changed his name. His original name was... wait for it... Larry. So these three
brothers where originally Larry, Larry & Daryl... and became Larry, Daryl &
Daryl. I also love the ending to this show where he wakes up from a dream and
he is in bed with Suzanne Pleshette from his show in the 70's and he says he
dreamed the entire series. This, of course, being a total spoof on the show
Dallas that had a season turn out to be a dream because Patrick Duffy left the
show for a year, and they needed a way to bring him back.
|NewsRadio (Phil Hartman at his best.)|
|NUMB3RS||6 of 6|
|One Day at a Time|
|The Outer Limits (1963/1995)|
|Overhaulin'||Seasons 3, 4 & 5 out of 7|
|The Paper Chase|
|The Partridge Family|
|Person of Interest|
|Prison Break||4 of 4|
|Psych||6 of 8|
|Quantum Leap||5 of 5|
|Quincy ME||8 of 8|
|This one strictly for my sons. They liked it.|
|Rizzoli & Isles|
|Rockford Files||6 of 6|
|Royal Pains||4 of 5|
|Sanford and Son|
|Saturday Night Live||Seasons 37, 38 of 39|
|I would love to see some of the classic SNL fro the 70's and 80's.|
|Scarecrow and Mrs. King|
|Scrubs||9 of 9|
|Sherlock||2 of 3|
|Simon & Simon|
|The Six Million Dollar Man|
|Sliders||5 of 5|
|Spenser: For Hire|
|Starsky & Hutch|
|The Streets of San Francisco|
|Supernatural||8 of 9|
|3rd Rock from the Sun|
|Top Gear UK||2-19 of 21|
|Trapper John, M.D.|
|21 Jump Street|
|The Twilight Zone (1959)||2 of 4 (65 of 156 episodes)|
|The Twilight Zone (1985/2002)|
|Twin Peaks||2 of 2|
|Vampire Diaries||4 of 5|
|Walker, Texas Ranger|
|The Walking Dead||3 of 4|
|Welcome Back, Kotter|
|The West Wing||7 of 7|
|White Collar||4 of 5|
|The White Shadow|
|Will & Grace|
|Wings||8 of 8|
|WKRP in Cincinnati|
|X-Files||9 of 9|
Wow... that got out of hand. But it was enlightening.
Breaking Bad is a show I am watching now. I started watching it after
its finale aired. So it is a perfect test case for that kind of shows I
would hope to see on Netflix. The same is true of Dexter. I recently
started watching old episodes with my sons and that would be cool to do
Overall I LOVE Netflix for the number of old shows you can watch. But it is still lacking.
There is plenty of content if you like to watch old shows, and that is usually better than watching reruns of new shows during the summer and such. Netflix keeps track of what episode you were watching, so you can easily just jump on in and watch your next episode when the mood strikes. And, of course, Netflix does a great job of letting you binge watch a show (I watched the first half season of Hack in a few days. It was a show I watched some, but not much, because it was a pre-DVR show for me).
Ultimately, Netflix IS NOT a viable option for people trying to cut the cord. You won't get new shows. However I find it a perfect supplement to cutting the cord. I used to be a huge Netflix fan back when we would get the maximum number of DVDs. In fact, that is why I put Starsky & Hutch on the list above. I actually started renting the DVDs of that show through Netflix when it came out. So I was particularly surprised it was not available for streaming.
All this testing has done one thing... make we want to get the Roku 3 or the WDTV Live. Both are excellent streaming devices that support Ethernet. Roku requires third party support to access content on your home network, where WDTV does that by itself. But WDTV has far fewer apps/channels than Roku. But WDTV does have HuluPlus and Netfix. I need to verify if both have YouTube apps/channels.
Well, I will have to save for the Roku/WDTV option. For now I am struggling along until I save a little cash.