Hulu is one of the biggest and most popular streaming services in the US alongside the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime, but Disney Plus could change all of that. While the two aren’t technically competitors (both are owned by Disney), the two offer wildly different streaming experiences.
We outline the key differences between Disney Plus and Hulu right here, along with pricing and availability information. If you'd like more comparisons, take a look at our list of the best TV streaming services for 2021.
How much do Disney Plus and Hulu cost?
Before we delve into the thick of it, let’s first discuss the pricing options for Disney Plus and Hulu. Let’s tackle the easier one first; Disney Plus costs £7.99/US$7.99, or £79.90/$79.99 a year if you pay upfront, with no kind of paid add-ons to access walled-off content.
Hulu, on the other hand, isn’t quite as straight forward. You’ve got two options to choose from - basic or premium – along with additional add-ons that bring the cost right up.
The basic $6 a month subscription is the cheapest way to access Hulu content, but it includes ad breaks when watching new TV shows. The $12 a month premium subscription removes the majority of ads, although a short ad will still be displayed at the beginning of some content. And, as mentioned, you can further expand the content library by purchasing additional monthly add-ons; $15 for HBO, $10 for Cinemax, $9 for Showtime.
Disney Plus is now available in the UK and Europe, but the same can’t be said for Hulu, which is exclusive to the US. Here's how you can watch Hulu outside of America.
It is worth noting however that a lot of Hulu content is now available on Disney Plus UK via Star - more on that below.
How do Disney Plus and Hulu compare?
Of course, the biggest question is how the two Disney-owned streaming services compare as, on the surface, it might be hard to decide which to subscribe to. Let’s start with Disney Plus, the latest streaming service that offers full access to a range of Disney-owned movies and TV shows.
There’s a blend of new and old shows on the service, with Star Wars original The Mandalorian now available to stream alongside classic series’ of The Simpsons, and Disney has confirmed that there are many more original shows in the works – including Marvel Cinematic Universe spin-offs The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and Loki.
It’s a similar story with movie availability; Disney Plus offers access to a wide range of Disney-owned movies stretching back over 80 years, from the classic Star Wars movies to The Avengers and even the likes of The Little Mermaid and Toy Story. What’s interesting is that Disney Plus provides 4K HDR playback (sometimes with Dolby Vision and Atmos support) for movies like the original Star Wars trilogy that didn’t originally offer it.
It’s not a complete collection just yet – not all the MCU films are currently available for example – but Disney has confirmed that more TV shows and movies will be arriving on the service over the coming year.
The addition of Star has now also brought in films and TV shows above a 14+ rating, making the content suitable for everyone in the family. You'll find the likes of Atlanta, The X-Files, Die Hard, Modern Family, 24 and Lost on the service now. However, Star is only available on Disney Plus UK and Europe - its not available in America as that country already has Hulu.
But what about Hulu? Whilst a good portion of the Disney Plus originals are still in production, Hulu offers a range of original series that have seen worldwide interest. The original series’ includes The Handmaid’s Tale, an increasingly relevant thriller based on a classic novel alongside the likes of Castle Rock, Shrill and Ramy.
But of course, Hulu offers way more than just original series; in fact, the main draw of Hulu for many is that it features TV shows from most major networks that are currently airing in the US, with new episodes appearing within a day or two of broadcast. Want to catch up on the latest episode of Legion or an old episode of South Park? Hulu has you covered.
You’ve also got a range of mature-rated films and TV shows on Hulu. Whilst Disney does offer some of these via Star, its library isn't as extensive as Hulu's and it may not get all the releases at the same time as its US counterpart.
You can expand the collection of TV shows and movies accessible via Hulu by subscribing to add-ons. These range in both price and content depending on what you want access to – there’s even an option that allows you to stream live TV. However, this costs a hefty $54.99 per month - which will increase to $64.99 from 18 December 2020.
It’s worth mentioning that there’s no tiered access when it comes to Disney Plus; you’ll get access to everything the service has to offer for one flat rate.
The biggest problem with Hulu are the ads; if you’ve got a basic subscription you’ll see ads at scheduled ad breaks when watching on-demand content, and even with the premium subscription you’ll see the occasional pre-roll ad. Disney Plus doesn’t have any
Both Disney Plus and Hulu should run on the majority of devices with apps on iOS, Android, Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Fire tablets, Google Chromecast devices, Android TV, Xbox One and PS4, and is also available via Mac and PC using a browser.
The Hulu app is also available for the Xbox 360, PS3 and Nintendo Switch. Disney hopes to get the app onto the Switch at some point in the near future, but unsurprisingly, it doesn’t have plans to develop apps for the ageing Microsoft and Sony consoles.
As with most streaming services, the choice of which to subscribe to boils down to your viewing habits. If you like the one-size-fits-all, family-friendly nature of Disney Plus then that’s the one to go for, but if you’re more of a US TV fan and want to access grittier content, Hulu looks to be the better option.
It’s worth keeping in mind that Disney is putting a lot of money into original content over the coming months, so it’s worth keeping an eye on content availability as time goes on and reconsider your options as necessary.
If you're in the UK, then Disney Plus with Star is the easier and less costly option as you get both the classic Disney content, plus TV shows and films from the Hulu library.