With the ceaseless emergence of streaming services, the contest between non-cable providers is likely to roar on. Whether you’ve already joined the cord-cutting coterie or plan to do so in the near future, it’s important to know how certain services are different backwards and forwards, before you pay up. Though you’ll find sundry options online, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime are still the cream of the crop. Many people prefer to subscribe to more than one streaming service. However, that’s not always the best solution for our prudent pals who’d rather be members of only one service.
And in this article, we’ll present a showdown between all the three, to help you make an informed decision. Here’s a detailed comparison of Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime, covering all the chief aspects that one must look for when choosing a streaming service.
Comparing Hulu, Netflix & Amazon Prime
Hulu’s on-demand streaming service’s pricing tiers mainly hinge on the presence of advertisements or the lack thereof. You could either opt for the “Limited Ads” plan priced at $7.99/month or choose the “No Commercials” plan by shelling out an extra $4 which works out to be $12/month. Both these plans offer pretty much the same features i.e. unlimited access to Hulu’s streaming library. However, it’s important to note that you don’t get any simultaneous screens under either of these plans. Aside from this, Hulu also offers a Live TV subscription for $40 a month. This plan includes about 50+ channels, access to on-demand content, Cloud DVR, and multiple simultaneous screens.
Netflix’s pricing is largely based on video quality and the number of simultaneous screens. The base plan costs $8/month and lets you stream in SD on only 1 screen at a time. The standard plan (also, the most popular one) costs $11/month and lets you stream in HD across two screens simultaneously. The most premium plan costs $14/month and allows you to stream in HD & Ultra HD (wherever possible) across 4 screens simultaneously. No matter which plans you select, all the content on Netflix is free of ads.
Amazon Prime membership is perhaps the unique offering in that it offers a ton of extra benefits aside from streaming that you wouldn’t get with the other two services. Some of these benefits include two-day shipping on certain items, same-day delivery in eligible areas, prime now, Prime Video, Premium channel add-ons, Prime Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, and plenty more. You can either go for a yearly subscription which is billed at $99 annually or get a monthly subscription which is billed at $12.99/month. Also, if you’re a student, you’re in luck because there’s also a Prime student plan which is available at $49/year with the same benefits.
The Top Dog: Looking at the number of features, benefits, and the size of the on-demand content spread, Amazon Prime offers the most bang for your buck.
2. Content Selection
When it comes to content, no service can beat Hulu in the sphere of TV shows. You’ll find a host of popular shows including both, the old ones like South Park and Grey’s Anatomy, and the ones currently airing such as Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, and Parks and Recreation. The best part? The episodes of the latest shows are uploaded just a day after their official airing on television. Other than that, you’ll also have access to Hulu’s self-produced titles like The Handmaid’s Tale, The Path, Difficult People, and Casual. If you opt for Hulu with Live TV, you’ll also get access to popular channels like A&E, ABC, NBC, CNN, HGTV, Food Network, CBS, FOX, with premium add-ons like HBO and Showtime. The only aspect where Hulu lacks is in its movie selection.
Netflix rules the roost as far as original programming is concerned. The company has invested billions of dollars to bring you the most superior TV content that resonates with the modern-day period. Last year itself, Netflix’s original content received about 91 Emmy nominations, which is a pretty huge deal! Some of the most well-received Netflix original shows are Stranger Things, The Crown, House of Cards, Master of None, and Black Mirror. Aside from this, Netflix also produces feature films. Few of the most acclaimed ones are Mudbound, Beasts of No Nation, Gerald’s Game, and The Meyerowitz Stories.
Amazon Prime Video didn’t have the most exciting content catalog when it was first launched into the market. However, it gradually expanded its library and now has over 20,000 titles including movies, TV shows, and Amazon Originals. Yes! Amazon Prime too churns out original programs. Some of the most critically acclaimed ones include Mozart in the Jungle, Transparent, One Mississippi, and the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Amazon Prime Video also offers premium add-ons such as HBO and Showtime, at an extra cost. We encountered two main drawbacks:
1. Amazon Prime Video’s library contains not just what’s included in your subscription but also several popular titles which can be either rented or purchased at an additional charge. This can be confusing to many and sort of defends the purpose of switching to a monthly subscription service.
2. Amazon takes a long time before releasing a new original series, unlike Netflix. That said, whatever content you do get, is guaranteed to be of good quality.
The Top Dog – Netflix wins, considering that it has a wide selection and a good mix of movies, TV shows, original series, and documentaries that people are showing tremendous love for. Hulu is not far behind considering how quickly it adds the latest episodes of shows currently being aired.
Unfortunately, Hulu is currently available only in the U.S. so if you reside anywhere else, you’re out of luck. Netflix on the other hand as a wide reach with services available in about 200 countries including the U.S, U.K, India, Brazil, Croatia, Canada, France, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, and Switzerland. Amazon Prime Video too is available in many regions such as the U. S, UK, India, Canada, France, Italy, and Germany. However, the number of countries where it is accessible is still fewer compared to Netflix. On the flip side, Netflix is slightly discriminatory when it comes to content. For example, U.S. Netflix is far more superior to its French cousin in terms of selection.
The Top Dog – Both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video by the sheer number of countries they’re available in.
4. Supported Platforms
This is a tough one. Why you ask? Well, all the three services can be accessed across a huge range of devices including smart TVs, PCs, laptops, iOS & Android phones/tablets, gaming consoles like PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Blu-ray players, and media streaming players such as Chromecast, Fire TV/TV Stick, Apple TV, and Roku.
So are they any different? Yes! Sadly, Amazon Prime Video is not supported on Chromecast because Chromecast is a Google creation and Amazon is a direct rival of Google.
Netflix and Hulu are compatible with pretty much every device mentioned above. Except, Netflix has a slight edge over Hulu since it is additionally supported on some cable boxes as well.
The Top Dog – Netflix, without a doubt! Hulu comes in a second close.
5. Interface + Video Quality
Hulu’s user interface is quite eye-catching and snappy, with well-curated categories that contribute towards a more organized content catalog. You’ll find the “Shows you watch” sub-category right at the top of the homepage. This saves time as you can simply resume the previously watched show from where you left it off. Overall, it is extremely easy to use.
Personally, we think that Netflix’s interface edges out Hulu by the sheer excellence of its search functionality and content layout. You’ll find the recent additions right at the top with promo videos playing as you hover over the titles. As you scroll down further, you’ll see more sub-categories like Popular on Netflix, Trending now, and New Releases. You could also browse content as per genre/type of content, using the browse button. One thing that we absolutely loved is Netflix’s recommendations (based on viewing history); it is smart and accurate!
Amazon Prime Video has a satisfactory, but not a superlative interface. We thought that the content wasn’t very well-organized and looks rather chaotic; not to mention, the search function isn’t very useful because the results tend to show titles that are not only included with your prime membership but also those which can be rented/purchased.
Having said that, Amazon Prime Video beats the other two as far as video quality is concerned. Though Hulu and Netflix both support 4K and HDR streaming, Amazon Prime Video offers it for free. To avail the same feature in Netflix, you’ll have to opt for the most premium plan. Hulu doesn’t charge anything extra but supports this resolution only on selected devices such as PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One S.
The Top Dog – Netflix for interface and Amazon Prime Video for video quality.
A few other factors that may be important to you –
- Subtitles – Netflix has subtitles available for all of its content.
- Live TV – Hulu is the only service amongst the three that offers Live channels for those who prefer that over on-demand content.
- Parental Controls – Netflix lets you prevent your kids from viewing adult content while also offering a separate kid’s profile which contains only PG content.
- Customer Support – Netflix is known for responding quickly to queries. Moreover, the service is near-flawless so you’ll perhaps not even need immediate help.
If you had to choose just one streaming service, Netflix is the way to go. However, if you’re a TV person who loves to stay updated with the latest episodes of popular series (from premium networks), then Hulu should be your top pick. Furthermore, if you’re just a casual TV viewer who shops off of Amazon on a regular basis, the Amazon Prime Video could be the better option.