Way back in 2016 (remember 2016?) we had a question: who watches more content, Netflix subscribers or Hulu subscribers? To figure it out, we simply crunched some numbers. Using publicly available data, we divided Netflix and Hulu's streaming hours up amongst their respective user bases. We ended up determining that Netflix subscribers watch 48% more content than Hulu subscribers do.
Today, we're back to update those figures. We'll use the most recent data we can find to see if Netflix users are still streaming lots more content than Hulu subscribers – or if Hulu has been able to close the gap a little bit!
How Much Time Do Netflix Users Spend Streaming Content?
Netflix last released comprehensive information about streaming hours at the very end of 2017. Reviewing its year gone by, Netflix revealed that its user base had streamed 140 million hours of content per day, on average. Divided by Netflix's total user base of 109 million people, that's 1.28 hours per day. That's actually down a bit from what we found back in 2016. (Netflix's user base is now even larger, but we're using the figure contemporary to the hours-watched figure).
And, actually, this might be too conservative. Netflix set a new high-water mark for streaming on January 7 of 2018, when its users streamed 350 million hours of content. That's more than twice the 2017 average. 350 million is no doubt atypical, but it's been a whole year since that record-breaking day, and Netflix has grown in 2018.
We'll go with the more conservative figures this time around, but it's possible that we're shortchanging Netflix a little bit here.
How Much Streaming Do Hulu Subscribers Do?
Hulu's 2017 was a strong year, too. Though Hulu isn't quite Netflix's size, it does have plenty of subscribers streaming plenty of hours of content. In fact, Hulu says that streaming on its service topped 6 billion hours in 2017. Divide that by the 20 million subscribers that Hulu has, and you'll get 300 hours per subscriber, per year. That's 0.82 hours per day, or about 50 minutes.
Again, these numbers are about a year old – we'll have to wait for late December or January before we know how Hulu fared in 2018. But the figures are plenty accurate enough for our purposes, especially since Netflix's numbers are pretty conservative. Overall, we're not being too unfair to Hulu here.
Netflix Subscribers Stream 64% More Than Hulu Subscribers
Over the course of a day or a year, Netflix subscribers are outpacing Hulu subscribers in streaming hours. Netflix users stream more total, of course, because there are more Netflix subscribers than Hulu subscribers. But Netflix subscribers also stream more than Hulu subscribers on a per-subscriber basis. The average Netflix user watches 1.28 hours of Netflix per day, while the average Hulu subscriber watches .82 hours of Hulu per day. In other words, Netflix subscribers stream 64% more content than Hulu subscribers do!
Why is this? It could be an extension of Netflix's dominance in the streaming space. Some people subscribe to both Netflix and Hulu, and it's plausible to imagine that Hulu would be the “supplementary” service to Netflix's “primary” service in such a scenario. Another possible culprit is Hulu's emphasis on newer shows. Since Hulu offers TV show episodes from seasons still in progress, it's possible that Hulu users are unable to binge-watch as far as they'd prefer: after watching this week's episode of their favorite show, they have to wait until next week in order to keep watching.
Whatever the reason, it's clear that Netflix's dominance in raw numbers holds up pretty well when we switch to subscriber-based ratios. Even with numbers that are likely a little conservative for Netflix, we end up with a very rosy portrait of a streaming service at the height of its powers.