Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Netflix Is for Movies, Hulu Is for TV Shows. Neither Is for Your iPad or Your iPhone.

Lots of you are using your phones to watch YouTube. But Netflix and Hulu? Not so much.

That’s one of the takeaways from a new Nielsen report about viewing habits on the two online video services. Just three percent of Netflix users say they watch the service on a mobile phone or an iPad (Netflix on Android tablets has just barely moved beyond the theoretical stage). Hulu’s numbers are even smaller.

That’s not a huge surprise for a couple reasons:

  • Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has downplayed the effect that mobile phones and the iPad have had on his business. What’s most important to his company, he’s said, are ways that his customers can get their video onto TVs, whether it’s via game consoles like Microsoft’s Xbox 360 or via Internet-connected TVs.
  • Meanwhile, the only way Hulu users can watch on a phone or an iPad is by paying for the Hulu Plus subscription service. And while that service may have a million or so customers, that’s a small fraction of the free site’s overall user base. (Nielsen says it didn’t distinguish between free and paid Hulu users in its most recent survey).

Still, the data is worth pointing out, as video makers and distributors are trying to get their heads around the way people consume their stuff on the go. Of course, even “on the go” can mean different things to different users — yesterday we noted that much of a music video site’s “mobile” usage was actually taking place in bedrooms and living rooms.

Nielsen also reports, not surprisingly, that Hulu viewers are primarily using the service to watch TV shows. And that while Netflix users watch more movies than TV shows, they’re watching a lot of both. That also makes sense, given the increasing importance that Netflix has placed on getting its hands on shows like “Mad Men.”


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