The age of cord cutting is here. If you’re sick of your cable company raising their rates and nickel and diming you to death, then you’re going to want to start looking at other options like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and/or Hulu Plus. Each of these three video streaming services are unique, and bring their own content to the table. But which service should you choose?
Hulu Plus vs Netflix
Netflix is still the king when it comes to streaming videos online. Users are able to stream Netflix through a plethora of devices, including Xbox One, PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, Roku, Chromecast, Android devices, iOS devices, Windows devices, and way more that I don’t want to take the time to list here because, well, we’d be here for awhile. Netflix is the largest on-demand internet streaming provider, with more than 50 million subscribers globally.
Read: Amazon Prime Review
As far as content is concerned, Netflix has an unbelievable number of seasons of the most popular and most watched shows and movies, as well as their own Emmy Award-winning original content. Orange is the New Black, The Square and House of Cards have both won numerous Emmy Awards, while Arrested Development and Hemlock Grove have been nominated. Each one of these shows — especially Orange is the New Black and House of Cards — has a large fan base due to the quality of the Netflix’s original shows. And then let’s not forget new comers Master of None, BoJack Horseman, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and the unreal documentary Making a Murder which has made headlines worldwide.
Of course, Netflix has popular shows and movies as well, as the company works out “pay TV window” deals with major movie studios, which gives Netflix exclusive streaming rights to a great deal of the content the company has on its service, which helps acquire new users and retain the long-time customers that they already have. Netflix adds and removes content regularly every month, keeping the landscape of content feeling fresh at the beginning of every month. And, best of all, Netflix announces what new content will be coming and what content will no longer be available so that users can binge watch the content before the end of the month when they’ll be unable to stream it anymore. For example, we just learned that Netflix is creating a live-action Zelda TV show (which pretty much broke the internet yesterday).
Looking at the content that’s currently available on Netflix today, there is an overwhelming number of TV shows and movies available. Viewers can laugh with Ross, Chandler and Joey in the entire library of Friends episodes, follow James Spader on The Blacklist, laugh at Andrew Lincoln’s overacting in The Walking Dead, or binge watch the first nine seasons of Criminal Minds. Viewers also have the option to watch some of the latest movie releases, including Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe in Horns, the controversial The Interview, or Sofia Vergara in Chef. On top of new releases geared towards adults, Netflix also maintains an impressive library of movies and television shows aimed at children, such as Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Veggietales, and Curious George.
How much will Netflix cost you? Netflix offers potential customers three different monthly plans, including a $7.99 plan which allows users to stream on just one screen in standard definition, an $8.99 plan which allows families to stream on 2 different screens at once and in HD, and a 4 screen/ultraHD option for $11.99. Customers can also opt to go for the DVD/Blu-Ray only plans, which allows users the option to rent unlimited DVD and Blu-Ray rentals for a low monthly price.
That in mind, most Netflix customers opt for the streaming only plan, which means instant access. If one so opts, they can purchase both a streaming and disc (blu-ray or DVD) plan, but doing so will double your cost. Though, at one point, many years ago, when Netflix’s streaming service first launched, anyone with a disc subscription could access the streaming service free of charge. But that all changed when Netflix shifted its gears and by 2010 it went from being the USPS’ number one customer, to be the largest driver of Internet traffic as its streaming service exploded in popularity. As a result, in September of 2011 Netflix spun off, or attempted to do so, it’s DVD/Blu-ray business to Qwikster. The spin off was a massive failure, cause the company to dissolved the Qwikster brand as fast as it launched and resulted in Netflix’s CEO and founder to publicly apologize to its customers.
Our Rating: 5 out of 5 | Netflix
Amazon Prime Instant
Amazon Prime is growing in popularity, slowly but surely. Although the majority of people actually buy an Amazon Prime subscription for the free shipping on Amazon, there are plenty of reasons to check out Amazon’s video streaming service. The service includes absolutely fantastic movies like Batman Returns, Big Fish and World War Z, and great TV series like Downton Abbey, Under the Dome and Sons of Anarchy. And, best of all, there is a ton of popular HBO content available, including Boardwalk Empire, True Blood, and Treme. If you’re talking about Amazon Prime vs. Netflix when it comes to content, Netflix has more, but Amazon Prime is more selective.
Like Netflix, Amazon also has its own successful original series like Alpha House, Transparent, and Tumble Leaf. But Amazon has confused their message, and aren’t clear in the direction that they want to go in with their originals (mostly due to the fact that users can rate pilots that will help determine whether or not a show is sent into production). The process is confusing to new users, but we’ll be seeing new series put into production soon. The end result, though, is a data driven production schedule, with TV shows sometimes takes over 12 months to come to fruition.
Amazon supports full 1080p streaming with 5.1 Dolby Digital, and also added 4k (UHD) streaming in December. Like Netflix, Amazon Prime is available on a number of devices, including PS4, Xbox One, various Smart TVs, Blu-ray players and iOS/Android devices.
An Amazon Prime membership can be purchased for $99 per year (which works out to $8.25/month), but it also includes unlimited free two-day shipping on most items sold on Amazon, which will save you a ton of money throughout the year (which is especially handy during the holiday shopping season…trust me). Moreover, and to be play hard ball with Netflix, Amazon Prime TV shows and movies can now be downloaded to an Android or iOS device and taken with you sans Internet connection. Not all content on Amazon Prime is licensed, but if it is you’ll see a Download button. More info about downloading Amazon Prim content here.
Our Rating: 4.5 out of 5 |Amazon Prime Instant Video
Hulu Plus used to feel like the annoying little brother that wanted to do everything his older brother did but simply couldn’t compete. Now, however, Hulu Plus is much more formidable than it originally was.
Hulu Plus gets the latest episodes of shows that are currently running, including Parks and Recreation, the new Empire show on Fox, and content from ABC like Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder. Hulu Plus’ movie library isn’t even close to that of Amazon Prime or Netflix, but there are some great movies to watch, such as Dead Presidents, Fargo and The Punisher. Still, it’s blatantly obvious that the movie selection simply isn’t there like it is for Amazon and Netflix.
One of Hulu Plus’ best features is that it has a “recently added” section which shows all new content that is added, by date. This helps users ensure that they never miss one of the latest episodes of their favorite show.
Hulu Plus is available for $7.99/making it the cheapest option available when you’re comparing Hulu Plus vs. Netflix or Hulu Plus vs. Amazon. Although its movie section is virtually a wasteland, its TV content is the best available if you’re looking to keep up with the latest episodes of your favorite shows. Just be warned: you’ll still have to incur some commercials, but you will have access to additional past episodes and be able to watch on mobile devices, when compared to that of Hulu’s freemium offering.
And now, as of late 2015, you can upgrade to Hulu’s No Commercial option. However, cost is $11.99 a month, provided you sign up for Hulu Plus No Commercials directly with Hulu. But, and here is the rub, if you sign up via iTunes via an iOS Device (iPad or iPhone), your subscription will cost $13.99 a month due to the additional fees Apple tacks on. And if you’re really into spending more coin, you can add a Showtime subscription to your Hulu Plus No Commercial account for $8.99 a month. Which will net out your Hulu Plus cost at, at least, $22.98 or $24.98 if you buy it via the iPhone or iPad. Which begs the inevitable question: why not just subscribe to Sling TV?
Our Rating: 4 out of 5 | Hulu Plus
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