Does anyone really watch shows on television when they are on? Or have we all moved over to the ‘on demand’ services, where you decide what you watch, when and how many episodes (usually all of them, am I right?!)? The difficulty in this is choosing which service is best for you. Should you invest in Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime – which has the best choice and bang for your buck?
If we start by looking at the difference in prices, we are confronted by a huge choice of different tiers and packages from the three main providers.
Netflix starts at $7.99, and the only thing you miss out on is simultaneous streaming on multiple devices (which is something you need if you wanted to share a plan in your house – watching Orange is the New Black in bed while your housemate watches Making a Murderer in the bath!) and HD streaming. The most popular plan is the $9.99 standard plan where you can watch two screens at once and view in HD. The top price $11.99 Premium plan offers four screens and the chance to watch shows in Ultra HD when it is available.
Interestingly, Netflix also offers a DVD plan – something that seems quite a niche when DVD sales are so minimal now (mainly because of services such as Netflix, ironically!), but this does expand the choice of films beyond the streaming service. If you are only looking to borrow two DVD discs in a month, the $4.99 plan is ideal, but anything more can scale up your cost anywhere up to $19.99 although a lot of that does depend on whether you prefer Blu-rays or standard DVDs.
Amazon Prime may cost $99 a year (there are discounts for students!), but there are other benefits that come alongside the TV shows and films available – such as free two-day shipping on a load of items, the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library and even Prime Music. These perks more than make up for the $8 a month, upfront cost! If you are not 100% sold, you can always try the 30-day free trial.
Hulu has a different approach again, offering a basic package at $7.99 or an ad-free option for $11.99 – add $8.99 onto those, and you can also access content from Showtime. Unfortunately, you are only able to stream on one device, that said, they do have the perk of offering some taster episodes for free (including South Park and Scandal to name just two) to whet your appetite!
Another huge factor is the choice of shows available. Hulu offers a lot of brand new shows a day or so after they air for the first time, with Amazon Prime a little further behind, usually showing shows five days after they air and a very limited selection. Netflix certainly does not boast timeliness although this does make binge-watching full seasons much easier.
When it comes to original shows, Netflix is a clear winner, with award-winning shows such as Orange is the New Black and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. For shows that have only been available on one streaming platform, and never on national television, the popularity of programs such as these is groundbreaking! That is not to say that either of the other two does not offer original content, just that it is not really anything of huge note. If you want to be kept up to date with new shows, Hulu is ideal, but for whole series’ of something original, Netflix is king.
When it comes to choosing, it certainly is a difficult decision (I wonder if Sophie’s Choice is on any of them?!) but there are plenty of pros and cons to weigh up. Amazon is the best value money-wise but sits in the middle of Hulu’s timely replays of recent shows, and Netflix’ amazing original series. That said, Hulu is full of ads which seem to counteract the point of shunning “proper” television watching and can get pretty annoying. Netflix’ choice is limited but some of the things they host, especially their own, are pretty awesome and, well, “Hulu and Chill” doesn’t sound as good.