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The Battle of the Streaming Services: Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Compared

I’ve always been pretty happy with Netflix. Cutting cable is a popular choice among personal finance bloggers. The average monthly bill is over $100 a month and let’s face it, we don’t watch 90% of what we have access to in our plan. I did it long ago and settled on Netflix because it was the premier streaming service at the time.

But Hulu and Amazon both have free trials for their services and I decided to take advantage and give them a shot.

All three services have plenty of pros and cons, which I describe below.

Amazon Video

What I like the most about Amazon’s service is the ability to rent movies. This turns their product into streaming + Red Box, but you never have to leave your home.

You’re able to rent movies on demand, with the account being charged immediately. The problem is that newer movies are expensive to rent. New-to-DVD films are going to cost you $5.99 to watch one time.

However, the average overall seems to be $3.99 and you can get some as cheap as $.99, which is a pretty good deal. The Fellowship of the Ring is now available to watch on the streaming services. The Two Towers is not, but you can rent it for $.99. This is perfect for the person looking to binge the trilogy over the weekend for cheap.

I didn’t have time to go through all of the Amazon Original programming. I did watch the one that I was most interested in. The Tick was one of my favorite cartoons as a kid and Amazon rebooted it as a live action series. I really enjoyed it and if you decide to use the free trial, give this show a watch.

You also, for an extra cost, can have access to move channels like HBO, which also have free trials. The premium movie channel trials are only a week long, but luckily, most of them don’t have much that’s actually worth watching, so seven days is all you need. I went through four of them with relative ease. The move channels range from around $8 a month to as much as $15. HBO is really milking GOT for everything they can, I reckon.

Of the three services, I also enjoyed Amazon’s player the most. I’m not sure why. They include film trivia in a sidebar that you can scroll through during slower moments in your show or film, which is kind of cool. Other than that, it’s just really simple.

Amazon Video is part of Amazon Prime, which costs $12.99 per month or $99 per year. At the monthly rate, it’s the most expensive streaming service, but if you use Amazon Prime for other services, it could be worth it and you could possibly see a ton of value.

However, I’m cheap. I don’t do a lot of online spending as I don’t spend much money on anything at all. Because of this, I wasn’t able to get full value out of this option.

Hulu

I like Hulu in theory. They seem to get some shows faster than the other networks. Some shows are even posted just a couple of weeks after they air.

It felt like Hulu had a better selection of TV shows than Netflix or Amazon, though I didn’t do a direct comparison.

The service costs roughly the same as Netflix and Amazon. Sure, Hulu offers a $7.99 subscription. But then you have to watch commercials. I don’t know about you, but the whole reason I’m interested in these types of services is that I don’t want to watch commercials. Even a five-second ad on YouTube is enough to grate on my nerves and I doubt I’m alone.

As with Amazon, you can add premium channels like Showtime and HBO to your subscription. This is, in my opinion, the one place where Netflix is failing compared to the other services.

Hulu has my least favorite player of the three choices. On top of that, I have bad internet service at my home, so the streams were constantly being interrupted or not loading at all. I would refresh the page two and three times and the videos would not play. I would then go and test YouTube and Netflix to see if they would give me the same problems and they did not.

This leads me to believe that it was just Hulu and not my internet. But, as I said, my internet is awful. If I had faster service from my provider I think there is a pretty good chance this issue wouldn’t exist at all.

Another thing I didn’t care for was Hulu’s original shows. I watched Marvel’s Runaways and Future Man but didn’t finish either show. I found Runaways to be boring and targeted towards a much younger audience, and Future Man tried but it just didn’t get there. It was raunchy humor, and fans of that style of comedy may appreciate it more than I did.

These two shows were the ones I was looking forward to watching. After Hulu let me down, I opted not to watch any more of their original programming.

And here’s why: I’ve been spoiled by Netflix.

Netflix

The granddaddy of all of the streaming services is the once and future king. While they may not offer premium movie channel options like their competitors, they have, hands down, the best original shows.

  • Stranger Things
  • The Marvel shows
  • The Voltron reboot
  • Bright

The list goes on and it doesn’t appear that Netflix is going to slow down anytime soon.

Sure, I could get a premium subscription on one of the other options and watch the new Ghostbusters movie. Or I could go over to Netflix and watch the two originals. (Disclaimer: I tried to watch the reboot during one of my free trials. I didn’t make it very far.)

The Verdict

Netflix is the clear winner to me. The other two options are good, but I don’t think they’re good enough. At least not yet.

If you like renting movies that have just come out, then go with Amazon Prime if you can use it for other services as well. But if you’re looking to save the most money and see the best shows and old movies, Netflix has you covered. Here is my official ranking:

  1. Netflix
  2. Amazon
  3. Hulu

Honestly, if you love premium channel shows that much, just buy the DVDs or buy digital versions off of Amazon. The service is not worth an extra $8-15 a month.

The Future

I think Disney has the potential to give Netflix a run for its money. Superhero movies aren’t going anywhere and all of the Marvel options are going to be packed nicely on Disney’s streaming shelf in a couple of years.

They also own Star Wars, all of the PotC flicks, and who knows what they’ll be doing over the next few years to bring more people to their streaming service.

Netflix has been in the game for over 10 years now. They know exactly what they’re doing. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few aces up their sleeve as well. If Amazon and Hulu ever want to truly compete, they’ll need to put in some more effort.

What do I want to see?

I want Disney and Netflix as a package deal. They’ve worked together before. I’d be more than happy to get a discount and pay $15-18 a month for both services. If that can’t happen, I’ll probably just get a free Disney trial and then write about it. Hah!

About Matt Ruley

You can find me blogging at wereallpoorhere.com. When on blog critics, expect to find me writing about whatever is on my mind, especially TV and random musings.

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