Michelle Clancy ©RapidTVNews | 29-07-2011

Even though some tend to lump subscription over the top (OTT) online streaming sites Netflix and Hulu together as tigers of the same stripe, new research from Nielsen has revealed very distinct modes of operation.

Basically, Netflix users prefer to watch primarily movies through gaming consoles, while Hulu fans watch mostly TV programming via their computers. Netflix subscribers prefer movies (53%) to TV shows (11%), while 36% do both. A full 73% of Hulu users mostly watch TV--only 9% watch movies. A low 18% of subs do both.

When it comes to devices, the stats don't really reflect the focus that the media has placed onthe connected device explosion. Netflix streaming is compatible with 300 consumer electronics devices, but Watch Instantly subscribers connect mostly through games systems, specifically the Nintendo Wii (25%), Sony PlayStation 3 (13%) or Microsoft Xbox Live (12%). Meanwhile 42% watch on the computer, while just 14% leverage a television connected to a computer. Other devices proved even less popular: 11% of respondents use a Blu-ray Disc player to access Netflix, 6% use a connected TV and 5% used Roku.

A significant 89% of Hulu users watch via the computer, while 20% use the television and 8% of Hulu users connect with game systems. About 3% used a Roku box to access Hulu, and 2% used a connected TV. Granted, Hulu does not have as many certified devices at its disposal.

Google TV and Apple TV trail at 1% each for Hulu and Netflix.

Interestingly, despite the tablet hype, only 3% use the Apple iPad for Netflix, and 1% use it for Hulu. When it comes to smartphones, 3% of Netflix users stream content that way, and 2% of Hulu subscribers.