Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime are three of the most popular video streaming services, and thrifty consumers might find themselves torn between them. Still, other consumers might even subscribe to more than one, but with new competitors like Disney+ on the horizon, it is worth considering which services offer the biggest bang for your buck.
The simple numbers are a good place to start. Netflix has basic, standard, and premium plans, priced respectively at $9, $13, and $16. Basic offers standard definition streaming and one stream at a time, whereas standard allows HD streaming and two simultaneous streams. Premium, on the other hand, offers full simultaneous streaming and Ultra HD. Keep in mind that UHD is only available for certain titles and can only be played on certain devices, so if this entices you, first make sure you have the equipment for it.
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Of the three, Hulu offers the cheapest plan at $5.99/month, but the reason the price is so low is that much of the content is interrupted by ads. Their no-ads plan is $11.99. There are a number of other options as well which can change the pricing structure.
Amazon Prime’s pricing structure is simple, but what you get for it is more diverse. You can subscribe monthly for $12.99 or annually for $119 (equates to about $10 per month). This is already cheaper than Netflix, but the cherry on top is that Prime isn’t just a video service. Prime members get free two-day shipping, unlimited Kindle reading, exclusive deals, music streaming, and more.
Audio/video-philes may want to take a hard look at Netflix due to its UHD capability, which, for many, is a significant improvement over HD. Furthermore, some UHD titles use Dolby Atmos, an advanced and immersive audio system. Keep in mind that, as with UHD, you need a fairly specific audio setup to make the most of Atmos.
Hulu, as mentioned above, offers a great deal of customizability. You can, at an extra cost, add on channels such as HBO and features like live TV, unlimited screens, and a cloud DVR, choosing whichever features you most want to pay for. Although of the three, Hulu is the only service without the ability to download its videos, that cloud DVR may make up for it if you’re willing to pay for a TV plan. As an added bonus, Hulu streams network TV shows after the episodes air so that you don’t have to wait until the end of a season to watch your favorite ongoing shows if you’re a cord-cutter.
Prime also offers add-on channels, with an even more robust selection than Hulu. Additionally, while it’s not hard to find a title suitable for a Netflix download, many more of Prime’s titles are downloadable for offline viewing. And, of course, there are all those other Amazon services that come with Prime.
None of this matters without a good content library. Netflix’s library is the biggest, but this may change if you include Hulu’s and Prime’s add-on channels. Many Netflix originals are also felt to lack quality control, although on the flip side, it is becoming an attractive service for high-caliber artists, as is Prime. Hulu’s investment in original movies is less than the other two (with the exception of documentaries), but all three have produced stellar original TV. They also all attract high-quality third-party content (e.g. Hollywood blockbusters).
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The available content may be the biggest factor in your decision, so be sure to browse each site and decide which library is most enticing to you. So that said, in closing, here are a few recommendations currently available on each platform to get you started. Happy streaming!
- The Crown
- The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
- Black Mirror
- Marvel’s Daredevil
- The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
- The Big Sick
- Manchester by the Sea
- The Man in the High Castle
- The Handmaid’s Tale
- Minding the Gap
- The Mindy Project
- Into the Dark
- Marvel’s Runaways