Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime are almost more prevalent than cable these days. In fact, a news story from late 2017 showed that Netflix had nearly as many customers as traditional cable services did.
The service has only grown since then. Streaming services win out because they offer more on-demand options at a lower price than cable services do.
When Netflix was the only real streaming option, the choice was easy. But with so many services to pick from, it can be hard to narrow down which one of the major three is the better option. The average person might have Netflix because of its vast span of originals, then either Hulu or Prime for a single show or two.
Toss on HBO from Game of Thrones, and soon the Disney streaming service for all of the tragically canceled Marvel shows, and you’re looking at the equivalent of a cable bill.
There are only so many hours in a month to
watch television with. There’s no need to spend that much. Here is a breakdown
of what each service offers to help you make the most cost-effective decision.
4K Versus No 4K
If you’re a true cinephile (or you just
like watching content in the best possible quality), then 4K resolution is a
must. And thankfully, it’s available on almost
every platform. The problem is that early in 2018, Hulu killed all of its 4K
content and removed the option from all platforms.
Even the 4K page on the website is now
gone. Hulu said that 4K was never a huge point for them, and even before they
shut down availability of the higher-quality streams, they were only available
in two places: the PlayStation 4 Pro and the Xbox One X. Hulu has a lot going
for it, but the lack of 4K is a big mark against it, especially as more and
more 4K content emerges.
Amazon Prime Video does have 4K support,
although it is limited based on the content. Netflix falls into the same
category. Only limited shows have 4K support, but the ones that do look fantastic.
The downside is that it requires a higher payment tier to stream in 4K than at
The upside to this downside is that, when
Netflix detects a 4K-capable smart television, it automatically offers you the
option to upgrade. Almost every Netflix Original has a 4K option, as well as
many Pixar movies.
On-demand television is one of the primary
appeals for any streaming service, but as time has gone on and Netflix, Hulu,
and Amazon Prime grew their own dedicated fanbases, the services started to
produce original shows not available on any other platform. And many of those
shows far exceed anything available on traditional television.
Netflix leads the race in original
programming, with around 700 new shows, movies, and documentaries added in 2018
alone. Some of the ones you might have seen include The Blacklist, Black Mirror, and Sense8. Outside of the bevy of
Netflix originals, you’ll find fan favorites like Friends and Grey’s Anatomy.
Hulu has 50 original series, several of
which have won awards. Among these are The
Handmaid’s Tale, Castle Rock, and Harlots. Hulu also nabbed the rights to
beloved sitcoms like How I Met Your
Mother. Although not an original, sitcoms with big fan bases bring a lot of
viewers to the platform.
Amazon Prime Video also has its fair share
of originals. Although we could find no specific numbers, they have somewhere
between 150 and 200 original shows, with more to come in 2019. Some of the best
ones include the incredibly popular Marvelous
Mrs. Maisel, Sneaky Pete, and the police drama Bosch.
If we had to judge a platform based on
numbers alone, Netflix would be the clear winner. On the other hand, Hulu has a
lot of well-produced originals. It’s a sort of quality over quantity situation.
In the middle of these two lies Amazon Prime. It has a few hits, a few misses,
but overall, the platform’s originals are worth checking out.
The one factor that sways more people than
anything else is price. Because there are so many different pricing tiers,
we’ve broken them down into a table to make it easy to understand.
Plan Price Per Month
|Netflix||Standard Definition, Single Screen: $9||High Definition, Two Screens: $13||4K UHD, Four Screens: $16|
|Hulu||With Ads, $7.99||Without Ads, $11.99||Hulu + Live TV With Ads: $39.99|
| Amazon Prime Video is included with|
Amazon Prime, a service that costs $119 per year. There are no other pricing
You should note that these are not all of
the options for each service. While Netflix and Amazon are rather
straightforward in pricing, Hulu has a number of customization
options—including the ability to HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, and Starz to any plan
for varying extra monthly costs. You can also choose to have Enhanced Cloud DVR
and Unlimited Screens to the Live TV plan.
Other Services and Considerations
These three “primary” streaming
services will probably always be at the top, if only for the variety of programming
they offer. On the other hand, HBO has a lot of fans because it’s the only
place to watch Game of Thrones.
Disney+ promises to be a major contender because it will have so much original
programming, as well as many of the Marvel shows people loved on Netflix.
Services like Crunchyroll are also popular
for more niche audiences due to the growing popularity of anime, although
Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime all have a fair share of Japanese animation in
And the above services don’t even take into
account the people that pay for independent sports packages. All this is to
point out how much competition there is, and how difficult it can be to make a
Choosing Only One
The fact is, you’ll probably have more than one streaming service. That’s just how it works in this day and age. That said, if you had to pick just one of these three, the 4K, four-screen package from Netflix is your best bet.
Not only does it allow you to stream on up to four different screens at one time, but you gain access to a library of more than 700 original shows and hundreds of classic, much-loved reruns—and you can access it in the highest definition possible at this time.
On the bright side, most people also have
Amazon Prime just for online shopping, so if you do you can always check in on
what their video offerings are for no additional cost.