Streaming services showdown

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a drastic surge in the popularity of streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus and Amazon Prime Video, with some subscription numbers nearly doubling. This increasing demand for digital entertainment brings up the question of which streaming platform is the best choice. 

Netflix offers the largest selection of content with almost 6,000 movies and TV shows, including several successful originals such as Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black and 13 Reasons Why. Updating often daily, Netflix is also constantly changing its content to ensure its subscribers have new entertainment to watch. However, users have noticed subscription fees have increased in recent years in comparison to other streaming platforms where subscription fees are being lowered. Netflix originals are the most appealing aspect about the platform, as this is content exclusive to Neltifx. Award winning shows such as “Orange is the New Black” and “Stranger Things” are some of the most critically acclaimed originals to be produced by Netflix. 

Amongst the four options, Hulu offers the most flexibility in its plans, allowing subscribers to select packages based on their budget and preferences. Users are able to choose the cheapest option with ads for $6 or purchase more expensive options that include Live TV for upwards of $55 a month. Hulu focuses mainly on shows rather than movies because of its numerous network partnerships such as ABC, NBC and Fox and shows are more frequently updated with the latest episodes. The platform updates the latest episodes of shows weekly as opposed to releasing all episodes at once when the season has ended. However, the layout of Hulu is disorganized and can hinder the viewing experience by causing confusion and frustration.

Disney Plus has the highest quality content amongst the four services, according to Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb, but mostly appeals to an audience’s sense of childhood. Since the range of content for Disney Plus is limited to solely the Disney franchise, there is a limited number of new content being produced and released. However, although Disney Plus is the newest streaming service, it’s popularity has grown to over 50 million paid subscribers and its library of content continues to grow as Disney releases more original content. Exclusive movie releases have also taken place on Disney Plus, like “Mulan,” however users had to pay an additional $30 to watch the live action film. In December, “Mulan” will be free to all Disney Plus users but it seems farfetched to pay the added cost when they are already paying for the streaming service. 

Amazon Prime Video is convenient for those that have already purchased Amazon Prime and pay the annual Prime fee for benefits such as free shipping and discounts on certain products. Amazon Prime has an average sized selection of content when compared to other streaming platforms, but many of the films and shows streamed are independently produced and the quality of content is lower than its competitors. Although Amazon Prime Video has an average library of content, users are able to purchase or rent additional movies or networks such as HBO to watch that are not included in the plan.

Overall, the four streaming services each offer quality content with their own benefits and drawbacks. For users that want more flexibility, Hulu is able to cater to user specific budgets. Disney Plus is the ideal platform for a younger audience or for users wanting to feel nostalgic about their childhood. For subscribers wanting convenience, Amazon Prime Video includes streaming when users purchase Prime membership to get two services for the price of one. However, Netflix is the clear winner overall, having the largest library of quality content available, alongside daily updates.

By Sherlene Su, Photo Editor-in-chief
Photo courtesy of Netflix

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