updated 03:45 pm EDT, Wed July 27, 2011
Nielsen shows split of Netflix and Hulu device use
Netflix and Hulu occupy almost entirely separate camps of digital streaming, Nielsen learned in a study Wednesday. Both are now available on many platforms, but Netflix is the dominant form by a wide margin on non-PC devices, including iPads, game consoles, and Internet-aware media hubs, ranging from a three-to-one ratio on Apple's tablet to seven or eight times higher. Hulu only wins out on computers but often does so by a wide margin, with 89 percent of its viewers watching on a computer versus just 42 percent of Netflix owners wanting to do the same.
Networked media hubs like Roku boxes and smartphones were relatively close, though the difference was minimized primarily by their smaller statures in the viewing audience as a whole. Unusually, an equal amount claimed that they watched Hulu and Netflix on the Apple TV and Google TV, despite there being no way to watch Hulu on the Apple TV and Hulu blocking Google TV to appease its studio partners.
Content preferences often dictated which devices were used. Hulu's official backing from three studios understandably led to 73 percent of Hulu viewers watching TV. Netflix's deals for mostly older TV shows, however, gave it a more even split at 53 percent watching movies alone. Hybrid viewers who saw both movies and TV were exactly twice as common on Netflix at 36 percent.
The study, conducted across 12,000 people in March, hints that Hulu's controls on where people go to watch was having its an effect that wasn't present at its counterpart. Hulu regularly stops free video from officially reaching non-PCs that might connect to a TV and just Tuesday allowed eight-day delays from Fox that many expect will lead to converts to Netflix as well as increased piracy.