Netflix trounces Hulu in time spent online


As much as Netflix has taken a hit for its pricing debacles, it looks like it is gaining some serious ground when you look at how much time viewers spend with it online. Netflix and Hulu are the two leading video streaming services on the Web when it comes to mainstream TV shows and movies. More people watch Netflix online than Hulu, and have since about 18 months ago. In November, 2011, comScore estimates that attracted 26.6 million unique visitors, versus 20.2 million for Hulu, reported TechCrunch.

But a better metric to compare the two is how much time people actually spend at each site. And there Netflix beats Hulu by two to one. U.S. visitors spent 1 billion minutes on in November, 2011, vs. 480 million minutes on Hulu, according to comScore. Viewers also go to to manage their DVD accounts and browse movie titles in addition to streaming videos, but the growth in time spent is most likely coming from streaming, noted the story.

Regardless, comScore numbers mean ad dollars. Netflix also has an edge over Hulu in that it streams more movies than TV shows, and those tend to be longer. But if that was the only factor, you’d expect to see the same ratio over time. Yet back in November, 2010, the two services were almost neck-and-neck in time spent, with Netflix users logging 750 million total minutes versus Hulu users logging 690 million.

Hulu started as a free, ad-supported video service, but it changed its strategy and pushed harder to convert viewers to paying subscribers. As a result, the number of people going to Hulu every month stopped growing (its 20 million unique U.S. visitors in November, 2011 was down from 21 million the year before).

The biggest jump in time spent on Netflix, however, occurred in September, 2011, when it rose by 26% in a single month (from 820 million minutes to 1.03 billion). September was the month when Netflix’s price hikes went into effect for subscribers who chose to keep both streaming and DVD rentals. For all the subsequent damage to Netflix’s brand and stock, the move did seemingly have the desired effect of boosting viewership of the streaming service, the article noted.

RBR-TVBR observation: For both services, having more iPTVs/SmartTVs rolling out to the marketplace should increase viewership. Many consumers still watch the two services on PCs or laptops, and going though Wii or Xbox can be clunky. As well, there are only a limited number of consumers that own gaming consoles, and even less that use them for watching streaming video.