Hulu Steps on Netflix's Toes, Starts Streaming Movies

A rivalry between Hulu and Netflix continues to silently brew. Where the two streaming services once had distinct roles - Hulu for television, Netflix for movies - they are increasingly overlapping.

To that end, Hulu just added 800 movies to its Hulu Plus subscription service, courtesy of Criterion Collection. The high-brow cinema of Orson Welles, Jean-Luc Godard, Federico Fellini and more can now be yours to stream for $8 per month.

The films will be uninterrupted by commercials, which will only roll before the movie starts. The free version of Hulu will get some Criterion Collection movies on a rotating basis, but they will be broken up by ads.

Of course, 800 Criterion Collection movies hardly compare to Netflix's library (Netflix had roughly 20,000 streaming videos by mid-2010, though I can't find a breakdown of movies to TV), but the caliber of those films should give Hulu some credibility among film buffs.

It's also an interesting strategy in that it doesn't involve any major movie studios. Netflix, meanwhile, has struck deals with NBC and ABC/Disney for streaming television content. The company has also reportedly courted individual TV studios for in-season streaming, but we haven't seen that come to fruition yet.

Although Netflix does apparently consider Hulu as a competitor, I think it'll be a while before the companies start trading barbs in the way that, say, Blockbuster disses Netflix. The streaming video business is still relatively young, and it's in the best interest of both companies to grow their libraries without putting each other down.

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