Netflix, Hulu Plus or cable TV?

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If Netflix were a TV network, it would be the 15th most-watched network in the United States.

Subscription services, like Netflix and Hulu Plus, that provide on-demand streaming videos are increasingly popular, but still many TV consumers are left wondering whether or not to abandon traditional cable.

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People are increasingly watching movies and shows through subscribing services like Netflix and Hulu Plus. (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

“Netflix streaming usage is exploding and is far, far bigger than traditional media executives give it credit for,” wrote Richard Greenfield, an analyst for the investment research website BTIG, on his blog. “Netflix had more hours of viewing in October than FX, HGTV and History and had more than twice the viewer hours of CNN, Discovery, MSNBC and BET.”

Netflix, Hulu Plus and cable networks have their advantages and disadvantages.

Netflix is a subscription service that allows viewers to watch movies and shows on TV, laptops or mobile devices. The costs are fairly low: for $8 per month subscribers get access to hundreds of movies and programs.

The Netflix database has many different movies — from documentaries to TV shows to foreign movies that are hard to find elsewhere. It is accessible from a number of devices, such as PS3, Xbox 360, iOS devices and laptops. Although Netflix positions itself as an addition to cable TV, many subscribers find Netflix more satisfying and have cut cable altogether.

Kristen Reese, a psychology student at UVU, watches Netflix on her phone.

“I love Netflix,” Reese said. “I can access it from my phone or watch it at home. It doesn’t have any commercials — it’s beautiful.”

Lauren Wilkes is a Provo resident from Roseville, Calif., who, for many years, had cable TV and was happy with it.

“I used Comcast for several years,” Wilkes said. “And then I decided to try Netflix because my friends told me it has all my favorite shows. After a week, I started to wonder, ‘Why do I still have cable?’ and if I need it at all.”

However, Netflix has its own shortcomings. Some people complain that Netflix doesn’t have many movies they want to watch. The service doesn’t have a set update schedule, but many users notice that updates happen often, sometimes even every day.

For those not satisfied with Netflix, Hulu Plus is another option. Hulu Plus is a subscription service that started more recently. Its content differs from Netflix; it has different shows and movies. Those who missed an episode of their favorite show can go to the Hulu website and watch it for free. Access to a plethora of shows, movies and TV series costs $8 per month, but in contrast with Netflix, Hulu Plus is ad-supported, which annoys many subscribers. An advantage of Hulu Plus is that it adds new episodes almost a day after they were aired on TV.

According to huluvsnetflix.org, a website that analyzes both Netflix and Hulu Plus, Hulu Plus can be a better answer for those who prefer TV programs, since it has the current seasons, while Netflix usually has past seasons but has a larger movie database.

And then there is good old cable. Cable TV is more stable than Netflix or Hulu Plus, since it doesn’t require an Internet connection and won’t cut out on viewers during storms like traditional broadcasts. Cable TV is the option for people who want to know what is going on right now — cable TV gives viewers an opportunity to watch many live events and shows.

Dallin Gillette, an exercise science student, prefers cable TV even though he has Netflix on his phone.

“I’m not the kind of person that turns the TV on, especially during the school year,” Gillette said. “But if I’m on vacation, I will turn on the TV to watch a sporting event. I use cable more often because I prefer sporting events over movies. If I want a movie, I usually borrow it from someone because Netflix doesn’t have all the movies I want.”