Which Streaming Service is Best for You?
In 2019, it's almost weirder to find someone who has cable than without. When I was a kid, it was the holy grail of entertainment.
But as people soon realized, they were paying a lot of money each month for cable and were watching a lot of commercials. For that kind of money, they should be able to watch ad-free, right? That kind of logic drove many to become cable cutters.
The streaming world offered instant access to hundreds of episodes of shows and movies. No more DVR, no more waiting for new episodes each week, no more re-runs.
But as more and more people cut the cable, the more big movie and TV companies want a piece of that ever-growing pie.
Disney's streaming service will be up this fall. DC Comics has DC Universe. NBC pulling The Office from Netflix in 2021 seems to signal a similar move.
Cable has come back full-circle. People that wanted to get away from paying absurd amounts of money for various packages to get all the shows they want dropped cable. Now they'll end up paying absurd amounts of money for various streaming services to get all the shows they want.
If you were to subscribe to all the major services, you'd be paying about $55 monthly. This is standard HD Netflix (about $15), Hulu Plus ($11.99), and Amazon Prime Video ($12.99) with an add-on for HBO ($15).
That's still much cheaper than cable. But I expect to see more streaming services pop up in the next 2 years.
If you were to narrow your streaming services down to one, which is best for you? Let's break it down.
Pros: Has a great movie library. Arguably the best when it comes to originals such as Stranger Things or the revamped Arrested Development. Has the best user interface when it comes to searching, adding to queue, etc. When it comes to documentaries, there's not a lot of competition.
Cons: Already the most expensive, you can expect Netflix to keep raising its prices. As they get more confident in their originals (which can be hit and miss), Netflix appears to be lax on retaining rights to established classic content. They also push their originals in your face.
Pros: Hulu is dominant when it comes to television currently on air. Nobody gets it quicker than Hulu. They've also been able to take shows that used to be on Netflix (Futurama, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and get them on their platform. Hulu is the king of adult animation. They've got The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Futurama, Rick & Morty, and Bob's Burgers. Their current movie selection has some classics. Hulu also offers packages for HBO and Showtime.
Cons: I'd say 60% of Hulu's TV content is reality TV, which isn't Hulu's fault. I stated earlier that Hulu is dominant in its TV selection. The problem is most of TV today is reality TV. If you're looking for documentaries, Hulu pales in comparison to Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO.
Amazon Prime Video
Pros: Chances are you already have Amazon Prime Video. If you're a Prime member, Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Music come packaged in. $12.99 gets you quite a deal for everything. When it comes to content, Amazon has a TON of HBO's older shows and series. For instance, The Sopranos, Eastbound & Down, Todd McFarlane's Spawn, and Boardwalk Empire. You can also easily package HBO in with your subscription. Amazon also kills with their PBS content, meaning I can watch Ken Burns' nearly 19 hour-long documentary about Baseball when I'm feeling extra self-loathsome. Amazon also adds your digital library into its interface, enabling movies you already own to show up.
Cons: I don't know a better way to say this. I hate Amazon Prime Video's user interface. If I scroll all the way to the bottom and find nothing I want to watch; there's no shortcut button to pull up the search. I have to go all the way back up to the top of the menu and manually click the icon. It's mind-boggling to me that Amazon Prime Video doesn't have that function.
Pros: Game of Thrones. Need I say more? Fine. HBO is amazing at creating original content. All of it is available. It's cinema-quality production dragged out into a full TV show. HBO's original documentaries like Leaving Neverland, I Love You Now Die, and Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind are some of the best I've ever seen. For the kids, you can't beat having 13 of the 14 Land Before Time movies or all the Sesame Street your kid can eat.
Cons: I don't know if HBO is using Game of Thrones' everlasting popularity to justify its $15 price point, or what, but it's kind of expensive. HBO has a cost comparable to Netflix without the content. The quality is certainly there, but the quantity isn't on Netflix's level.