Many thanks to J and J Productions 1809 for allowing me to share the pros and cons of some of the best streaming services available so you won’t regret any of your subscriptions. And if you aren’t quite sure what you’re looking to watch yet, check out this article on the Top 100 Movies.
So what really sets Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video apart? Well besides their subscriptions plans differing, each has their own library and features that might appeal to some more than others. Perhaps the most important feature though, for any of these services, is their compatibility with different devices.
Not everyone has a PC to stream movies on, and instead rely on other devices such as Smart TVs, tablets and game consoles. A large number of users also prefer to stream while on the go, as it often beats paying to view movies while at a hotel during your travels. Speed, reliability and cost can be a main concern as well.
Which genre of movies and TV shows you’re interested in can also be a contributing factor to your decision. Some streaming services offer limited amounts of anime, for example, whereas others have a better selection. Though there are genre-specific streaming services available (such as Crunchyroll), let's take a look at how three of the most popular services compare.
Netflix is a little bit different than other streaming services since you can choose to receive DVDs if preferred. Though a plan including DVDs is a separate cost, it’s nice to have the option available. DVD plans range between $4.99 and $14.99 per month, depending on how many discs you're able to rent out at a time, how many you’re able to rent per month and whether you choose to rent Blu-Ray discs or standard DVDs.
Streaming plans cost between $7.99 and $11.99 per month, and prices are dependent on whether or not you choose a plan with HD or Ultra HD streaming and how many screens you’d like to be able to watch on at once. Certain plans will only allow one user to watch at a time, making it difficult for those who want to share their accounts with anyone else.
On the topic of sharing, Netflix now allows you to create different user profiles too, which is particularly handy when you don’t want to lose where you left off in a movie or TV show due to sharing your account. With Netflix, you can also view a selection of suggested titles that are based on your prior viewing history. As you can imagine, this makes it easy to discover new content and videos you wouldn’t have normally thought to watch.
Overall, Netflix is a great choice due to their low price point, lack of commercials, ease of use and selection. They appear to have a little bit of something for everyone, even offering a large selection of international movies. Netflix’s compatibility across different devices is seriously impressive too, as you can watch from several different streaming media players (such as Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Chromecast, Nexus Player and NVIDIA Shield), game consoles, smartphones and more.
No need to worry if you’re hesitant about subscribing before viewing their library of movies and TV shows either—Netflix offers a one month free trial with the option to cancel at any time.
Hulu used to be the streaming service of choice for those looking to keep up with some of their favorite TV shows since they release new episodes the day after they premiere on cable TV. However, in the past few years, Hulu has stepped up their game by adding a fairly large selection of movies to stream. Like Netflix, their subscription plans for streaming costs between $7.99 and $11.99 per month but commercials are unfortunately included in their $7.99 plan.
Hulu offers a ShowTime add-on as well for an additional $8.99 per month, which will allow you to access content that would normally be found on ShowTime’s channels on cable TV (such as “Penny Dreadful,” “House of Lies” and “Homeland”). If you’re especially interested in some of ShowTime’s original movies or TV shows, Hulu might be a good choice for you (if you don’t already subscribe to ShowTime with a cable provider, at least).
There's no doubt that Hulu does offer some titles that Netflix doesn't, but overall, Netflix offers a little more for the money. Besides the commercials that are included on their lowest cost plan, Hulu also only offers a one-week free trial, which can be especially easy for many viewers to cancel before their credit card is billed (assuming they decide not to keep the service).
As far as compatibility goes, there are a couple of devices Hulu appears to support that Netflix does not and that alone might make Hulu more worthwhile for you. You can check out a list of supported devices here. Overall, I’d say Hulu is worth the cost, but it does fall a little short of Netflix.
Amazon Video is unlike both Netflix and Hulu. If you’re a frequent customer of Amazon’s, you likely already have an Amazon Prime subscription and if so, you have access to Amazon Video. And if you haven't signed up for a Prime membership, there's no need to fret over it; you can choose to sign up for Amazon Video (also known as Prime Video or Amazon Instant Video) regardless.
Amazon Video costs only $8.99 per month and offers a month-long free trial to get you started. Just as Hulu allows you to subscribe to ShowTime for an additional fee, so too does Amazon Video, and you can also pick from other popular entertainment channels such as Starz. In my opinion, Amazon Video is a bit more complicated to use than Hulu or Netflix, though it does have a nice selection of movies and includes original series.
Perhaps the most appealing feature Amazon Video has to offer is the ability to purchase the DVD of the movies you view with a simple click or the fact that you can read through thousands of reviews before watching or even post your own. If you're only looking for HD streaming, Amazon Video isn't the right choice for you though, and their list of supported devices is somewhat limited.
Something Else To Think About
No matter which streaming service you decide on, there are limitations to consider. Hulu, for example, isn't available worldwide, and the selections are likely to be different on Netflix if you live outside of the US. It’s a good idea to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for any of these, to avoid issues while traveling or streaming on the go and also to avoid paying for service you can’t use if you’re going on a trip overseas.
VPN service will allow you to continue to watch American Netflix (and Hulu) even if you're located elsewhere by masking your IP address. It's as simple as connecting to a remote server in the program, and as a bonus, it also encrypts your connection so you'll be able to stream videos safely from anywhere.
Have you used any of these streaming services yet? If so, we’d love to hear your opinion on them in the comments section below.
About the Author: Cassie is no stranger to streaming, and some might even call her an entertainment expert. She's tried out the best video streaming services the internet has to offer thus far and has written about each of them on numerous occasions. Check out her work on CultureCoverage.com for some great tips.