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Netflix bests Hulu in battle of apps

A research firm crunches data to illustrate how HBO Go and Hulu Plus fared against Netflix in an App Store cage match.

In a battle of apps, HBO Go and Hulu Plus can't keep pace with reining champion Netflix. (The numbers on the left reflect the number of the rankings for each period.) Strategy Analytics

Strategy Analytics recently gathered some information about how the apps Hulu Plus, HBO Go, and Netflix are faring in Apple's App store.

The research firm's report collects the rankings for each of the companies' apps once a week. Strategy Analytics' data from May 2 to June 20 showed Hulu Plus to be well behind Netflix and HBO Go in popularity.

Some observers suspect that Hulu Plus has failed to catch on with consumers. One of the top complaints about the service is that Hulu Plus charges a monthly subscription in addition to requiring users to watch ads. Netflix offers unlimited viewing for a similar price, but it is ad-free. Hulu's struggles may may be among the reasons owners Disney, News Corp., and NBC Universal are trying to sell the service.

HBO Go, the Web-streaming service from the premium cable channel, saw a big spike in popularity with the launch of the company's Android, iPad, and iPhone apps, which continue to be applauded by users and critics. The company has said more than 1 million HBO subscribers downloaded the app in its first week.

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HBO Go provides access to every episode of every show, a reservoir of some of the past decade's best-loved TV, including "The Sopranos," "Sex in the City," and "The Wire." The app has also won applause for the way it organizes the material.

Here again, Hulu loses in a face-to-face comparison. The library of past episodes for some hit shows is more restricted. The number of downloads for HBO Go, however, seems to have dipped since the initial spike and has fallen below that of Netflix. That isn't surprising, as everything seems to be going Netflix's way. The Web's top video rental service saw its stock price skyrocket after announcing that it is planning to expand into 43 Latin American countries sometime this year.