Ten years ago, Netflix launched its streaming service and Hulu followed shortly after. For a long time they were the only ones in the streaming game, competing against each other for the streaming content market share. In 2001, Amazon joined the streaming content party by bundling their Prime Video service with their existing Prime service.
Now all three services are thriving, each with their own unique benefits. The question on the minds of all TV and movie buffs is which service is worth spending your money on? The answer really depends on what matters the most to you. So, here’s the breakdown of each service, so you can make the best possible decision.
Price: Basic Plan: $7.99/month
Pros: Netflix is still the biggest player in the game, mostly because they have the widest variety of content, and the most titles. Netflix was also the first of the streaming services to break in to actually producing content with their Netflix Originals. Their critically acclaimed shows are obviously exclusive to the streaming service, giving them an edge over Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. Recently Netflix added the ability to download content as well so shows can be watched without an Internet connection. It gives Netflix’s service the ultimate portability, however, content download is also offered by Amazon Prime Video, so Netflix is not unique in this feature. Netflix is also commercial free for all its content on every available plan.
Cons: The cons of Netflix are what give Amazon Prime Video and Hulu their edge. To compete with the major player each of the other streaming services chose a content niche to occupy. Hulu focuses on delivering access to episodes of currently airing shows the day after they air, whereas Netflix only gets full seasons of television shows after they’ve aired. Amazon Prime Video nagged a coveted exclusive deal with HBO, which allows them to provide HBO content, to which none of the other services have access. So, if you want to binge anything HBO or stay totally current on all your favorite shows, Netflix may not be the service for you.
Exclusively on Netflix: Obviously all of their stellar Netflix Originals are Netflix exclusive which includes: “Orange is the New Black,” “Stranger Things,” “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” “The OA”, “Jessica Jones,” and “Luke Cage”. Netflix also has 18 pages worth of listings of content that is exclusive to their service. Most major movies are available on Netflix before they are available on other services as well.
Price: $7.99/month for limited commercials, $11.99/month for no commercials
Pros: The biggest benefit of Hulu is access to current season episodes of your favorite shows. Current season episodes are available the day after they air. If you’re the type who needs to stay up to date, but you can’t be home or awake when your favorite shows air Hulu is definitely for you. Hulu also has the option to add on a Showtime subscription for an additional fee. The Showtime subscription comes with live streaming, so you can watch your favorite Showtime shows as they air. This is a huge advantage over Netflix, which doesn’t even have a wide variety of Showtime content. Hulu has also recently gotten in to the original content game and their TV adaptation of the popular dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” is highly anticipated.
Cons: Hulu doesn’t have anywhere near the amount of selection of Netflix, especially for older television shows and movies. Hulu also has commercials during their streaming content unless you upgrade to the “no commercials” package, which makes the service more expensive than Netflix. Currently, Hulu doesn’t have the option to download content, making them the only popular streaming service without this feature.
Exclusively on Hulu: Current seasons of popular TV shows are exclusive to Hulu. Hulu Originals include the new season of “The Mindy Project,” “The Path,” “Difficult People,” “Casual,” “The Awesomes,” and the highly anticipated “Handmaid’s Tale.” Hulu also has non-original shows that are exclusive to their platform like “Smallville,” “Black-ish,” “Drunk History,” “Empire,” “Elementary,” and “Adventure Time.” Hulu also has access to a lot of Adult Swim content that Netflix and Amazon Prime Video do not, which is important to nerds everywhere.
Price: Included with Amazon Prime services, which are $99/year
Pros: Amazon Prime Video is the newest to the streaming content game, and they’re purposely doing things a little differently. Amazon Prime Video is bundled with Amazon Prime’s service, which provides customers with two day free shipping and a slew of other benefits. If you are a frequent Amazon user, you probably have Prime just for the convenience. This means you already have Prime Video, without having to pay anything extra. Amazon Prime Video’s biggest advantage is their exclusive deal with HBO, which means you can binge watch any HBO show you want. They also offer add on subscriptions for HBO, Showtime, and Starz, which allow for live streaming. This is huge if you need to watch Game of Thrones when it airs. Amazon also offers downloadable content, so the service is available without an Internet connection.
Cons: Amazon’s selection is not great compared to Hulu and Netflix. They offer far fewer titles for both movies and television. Since the service is bundled with Amazon Prime you have to pay the $99 all at once instead of monthly and may be getting benefits that you’ll never use.
Exclusively on Amazon Prime Video: Amazon is brand new to original content, but they’re already hitting it out of the park with shows like “Z: The Beginning of Everything,” “Sneaky Pete,” “Bosch,” and “The Man in the High Castle.” Amazon doesn’t have many shows that are exclusive to their platform, but the ones they have snagged are worth it: “The Americans,” “Mr. Robot,” “Downton Abbey,” and “Vikings.”
So which service should you invest in? It depends on what your priorities are. If you care the most about having access to a wide variety of popular titles then Netflix is definitely your choice. If you’re a TV junkie who can’t stand to be even an episode behind then Hulu is the perfect choice. If you absolutely need your HBO and want access to some of the best new shows, but don’t care about having ‘all the titles’ then Amazon Prime Video is your jam. When it comes down to money, all the services are comparably priced, so content is really the key decider.