We are undoubtedly lucky to live in such an accessible and diverse time when it comes to internet television and streaming. And, while the choice and freedom are great, there are so many options out there right now that it is difficult to just choose just one service.
A standard solution to this is to buy packages and bundles, which are designed to save you money and allow you to watch all of your favorite shows and have access to the latest and greatest on demand. However, a lot of questions and confusion come up with which streaming sites work with others.
Take a look at two of the biggest fish in the internet television sea today – Hulu; Amazon Prime. Is Hulu free with Amazon Prime? Are they part of a package you can buy? Are they compatible at all?
Hulu does not come free with Amazon Prime – and this is because they are direct competitors. Amazon has its own video streaming service Amazon Prime Video which does come free with Amazon Prime.
However, not all hope is lost! There are some great options out there that will work for you. We will explore some of the best ones in detail.
We will also take a deeper look at the exact nature between these digital television giants as well as examine upcoming trends, and what the future may have in store for internet television and streaming as a whole.
Cutting the Cord
More and more people choose to “cut the cord” on traditional cable television and instead opt to go with a digital service that offers entertainment suited and curated to their preferences. Netflix was the trailblazer to bring on-demand internet television to our homes (…and tablets, and PCs, phones, and computers).
Inevitably, the competitors came soon afterwards– namely, Hulu, Amazon, and Disney. And, with such stiff competition cropping up, there needed to be something more to offer—something to entice people to choose to cut the cord with them and not with the competition.
Hulu is a video-on-demand streaming service that was initially launched in 2007. Owned initially by familiar players such as AOL, NBC (Comcast), Facebook, MSN, MySpace, Yahoo!, and Fox, it quickly became a big name in the streaming world. It later held its own against the mega giants like Amazon and Netflix.
That is, until another giant – Disney, decided to throw its Mickey Mouse hat into the digital television ring. As a result, Hulu and Disney joined forces as partners in 2009. And, unbeknownst to a lot of people, ten eventful years later, in 2019, Disney took complete control of Hulu, with Comcast opting to step down and act as a silent partner.
With Great Competition Comes… Great Original Programming
So… Besides a different name, why are people choosing one service over another?
Well, streaming companies started producing original content that would be exclusive to their services only. While frustrating for the general public, this sparked a bit of a renaissance for new, engaging television shows.
Netflix alone boasts an original catalog of:
- House of Cards
- Altered Carbon
- Marvel’s The Punisher
- 13 Reasons Why
- Black Mirror
- The Crown
- Bojack Horseman
- The Witcher
- Orange Is the New Black
- Master of None
- The Umbrella Academy
…Just to name a few.
These are all shows exclusive to Netflix and would not have come to exist without the growing competition within the live tv/streaming ecosystem.
Hulu, in response, has been building up its own original programming library, with a few programs you may have heard of, including:
- The Handmaid’s Tale
- Normal People
However, that’s not all Hulu has done to set them apart. In order to differentiate itself, Hulu also offers Live TV.
With Hulu + Live TV, you can watch sports, news, primetime cable television shows – all live. This plan also includes all of their original programming and access to their entire catalog of shows and movies. The Live TV streaming is particularly attractive to those who were tentative or hesitant to “cut the cord,” and Hulu is making the deal almost too sweet to pass up.
From Deep Within the Amazon Emerges… Prime Video
Hulu sounds like the obvious choice then for your streaming needs – right? Well, not so much. Amazon is offering much of these same services through their own service – Amazon Prime Video. So, it makes sense that Hulu isn’t included with Amazon Prime- because they are direct competitors. But, if Amazon is able to offer similar Live TV options, and both providers typically double up when it comes to their movie offerings– why is there a question on which provider to go with?
Well, a couple of things come into play.
Like Netflix ; Hulu, Amazon Prime Video has joined the original programming game. It exclusively offers the following titles (…again, a few you may have heard of):
- The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
- The Man in The High Castle
- The Expanse
- Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan
- Sneaky Pete
- The Boys
- Among many others
The ability to see your favorite show is definitely a deal-breaker when choosing between services and providers, but what else comes into play?
A Prime Deal
A massive draw for the Amazon Prime route is, well, that you get Amazon Prime with your subscription. So not only do you get to enjoy your favorite series’ and movies, but also the discounts and express shipping associated with being a Prime Member.
While this added benefit is not necessarily for everybody, and some people just want to enjoy the next episode of Homecoming without all the hassle—it is undeniable that Amazon can offer a very unique and valuable option to ensure people “cut the cord” with them.
So what else is going to impact your decision? Well, that’s simple.
At What Price?
Without a doubt, pricing matters, and you are ultimately looking for the most bang for your buck – right? Well, the pricing indeed ranges not only between providers but also within bundles and packages for each provider. So here is a quick breakdown of the pricing you can expect:
- Amazon Prime Video: The pricing is pretty easy. For Amazon Prime, it is $12.99 a month and $119.00 a year. You also have the option of just getting a Prime Video membership at the price of $8.99 a month.
- Netflix: Their plans are pretty straightforward and have the same basic offerings. The most notable difference between the plans is the resolution at which you can view them.
Basic – $9.00/month:
Includes all of the Netflix movies and television show catalog at standard definition with up to a maximum of 1 screen allowed to view at a time.
Standard – $14.00/month: All of the same inclusions as basic, but offering HD resolution and the screen viewing capacity bumped to 2.
Premium – $18.00/month: Same offerings as standard, but with both HD and Ultra HD Resolution offerings, and up to 4 screens can be used at once
Again, fairly straightforward. If you’re not looking for much more than access to your favorite shows and movies, then basic is probably best for you. On the other hand, if you share your account or take your resolutions seriously, then standard or premium may be for you.
- Hulu: Hulu has a lot more options when it comes to its bundles and packages.
Hulu – $5.99/month: The basic package comes with access to thousands of shows and movies from Hulu’s library. The only drawback is that it comes with ads. Also comes with the option of getting an annual subscription of $59.99 a year.
Hulu (No Ads) – $11.99/month: Same offers as Hulu, but without the ads.
Hulu + Live TV – $64.99/month: With this plan, you get “everything in the Hulu Streaming Library” and access to their live TV and on-demand channels. Admittedly, it is a considerable price, but when saving money from “cutting the cord” is taken into consideration, it can certainly provide more than enough value.
Hulu (No Ads) + Live TV – $70.99/month: Same deal as Hulu + Live TV, but without the ads
Pretty straightforward, right? Well, this is before the add-on options. You are also able to order extra add-ons with your monthly subscription, including:
- Unlimited Screens Add-on
Don’t Discount Disney
And, as if the possibilities weren’t already impressive, let’s not forget that Hulu is now owned by Disney. It’s no surprise then that Disney is looking to leverage this relationship. For any package or bundle you choose, you have the option of including the Disney Bundle as well. The Disney Bundle include the following:
- Hulu (whichever plan you choose)
- Disney +: Watch any series, movie, or short-form content from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and more
- ESPN+: watch live and on-demand sports content, as well as EPSN + originals
Whew. It’s certainly a lot of content and really, a lot of value. However, if you choose the Disney Bundle, one drawback is that not all content is available from one app or device, and you may be required to swap between the apps.
So Many Shows, Such Little Time
So – that’s a quick summary of the current options out there. And each service has its pros and cons in its own carefully carved niche. But there are those intrepid few who want it all, and that’s okay too. If you don’t mind the ads and choose the basic plan from each category, it adds up to $23.98. Much less than you are probably paying for cable at the moment. So if you are looking for it all, that’s an option too.
Deus Ex Machina
So it’s now pretty apparent as to why Hulu is not free with Amazon Prime, as they’re direct competitors in a fiercely competitive market. But what does that mean for the future? Well, Disney is proving itself to be a dark horse in the digital television world. And, as extensive and impressive of a library either Amazon or Netflix boast, just take a look at the companies under the Disney Umbrella:
- Marvel – Every part of the Marvel Universe now belongs to Disney.
- Lucasfilm – and this includes classics, such as Indiana Jones and Star Wars. Yup, that Star Wars.
- Touchstone Pictures – Movies include Who Framed Roger Rabbit? The Nightmare Before Christmas, Unbreakable, Sister Act, to name a few
- ESPN – Self-explanatory, but also a huge deal and a game-changer
- Pixar – (Some of their movies include Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc. Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Brave, Up, etc. Yeah, that’s a lot.
- The History Channel – Also self-explanatory.
- The Muppets – They’re the Muppets!
- ABC (Grey’s Anatomy, American Idol, etc.)
- 20th Century Fox (This massive, including American Dad, the Simpsons, Futurama, etc.)
- Among many, many more
And, let’s not forget Hulu. That’s a lot. And, if anything, it will go the direction that Hulu becomes free with Disney+ in the future, much sooner than it would with Amazon Prime.
It looks like Disney has quite a solid and firm grip on the digital television world. However, there is no doubt that more disruptors will come and shake up the game even more. Also, you can guarantee that Amazon and Netflix will continue to innovate and strengthen their respective positions as well.
Choose Your Adventure
At the end of the day, your entertainment platform is for you to choose from. Whether you enjoy regular cable and prefer not to “cut the cord,” at least not yet, then all the power to you. And, if you choose one over the other because of their original programming, that is very valid too.
And best part of all? All of the services offer trial memberships in one form or another. That means that you can shop around and demo each until you find the one that works best for you. Whether it is inclusive of your family, or just you, there is no wrong choice when it comes to the plethora of options we have at our fingertips right now.