How to Choose a Streaming Service

Molly Farrar, A&E Editor

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Netflix has nearly removed cable from homes across the world with a total 139 million subscribers. Since Netflix’s release, the market for streaming services has grown, and there are many options to choose from.

Netflix

By far the most popular and one that seemingly began it all is Netflix. With fan favorites and a user friendly interface, the streaming service stands out from both Amazon and Hulu. Shows like “Stranger Things,” “Orange is the New Black” and “13 Reasons Why” all make Netflix a must have. Each show and many other Netflix Originals have solidified themselves in popular culture, so many don’t mind dishing out $7.99 for a basic package or $10.99 for a standard one.

Netflix also has little things that go a long way, including “skip intro” buttons for skipping the theme song during those long binge sessions. The home screen for Netflix depends on the device, but the standard spotlight at the top with lists of titles below is quick and easy to read.

While Netflix has managed to hold on to a few favorites, including “Friends” and “The Office,” sometimes it seems that they have held on to little else. The addition of some classic movies seem like a huge surprise, and they also set a deadline to take something off, eliciting panic and long binges.

Amazon

Amazon Prime Video Originals, including  “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Homecoming,” “A Very English Scandal,” and “Mozart in the Jungle” have recently been in the running for multiple awards. While my parents got Amazon for Mrs. Maisel, I was there for “True Blood,” “Teen Wolf,” and Hugh Grant starring in “A Very English Scandal.”

Amazon has a similar set up to Netflix, but with more options. However, don’t let that fool you. More than half of the options listed to watch aren’t even available to watch, unless you rent or buy each individual title for an additional charge. Amazon further complicates things by offering packs, such as HBO, Starz and Showtime, which make some of the titles that Amazon dangles in front of you available for an additional price.

However, while that does get annoying, Amazon holds its own against Netflix, which is all you can do while Netflix spits out more and more originals. Amazon is on its own original kick, but shows like “The Americans” and “Mr. Robot” keep me coming back for the non-originals. And one can’t argue that Amazon is in its own category; Amazon Prime comes with the video streaming service, but also many perks such as free shipping and more from their original site.

Hulu

Hulu is awkward. While Netflix and Amazon list the titles much like browsing at a video store, the Hulu homepage is reminiscent of a TV guide, with more focus on each individual title. Hulu stands out in other ways as well; while competing streaming services get seasons of TV shows a year later, Hulu gets each episode the next day. This allows cable viewers to miss a show every once in awhile or for sole-Hulu subscribers to keep up in real time.

Hulu has also invested in the good shows. “Law and Order: SVU,” “Brooklyn 99” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” have increased popularity for Hulu. “It’s Always Sunny” was stolen away from Netflix, which converted many die-hards from Netflix to Hulu. Hulu Original “The Handmaid’s Tale” also drew a crowd to the service.

Other up-and-coming streamers are HBO Go and YouTube Premium. HBO stays in the game by holding on to their precious hit shows, such as “Game of Thrones” and “Girls,” even as they come to an end. YouTube Premium is far from established, but, via a trial episode, the show “Wayne,” produced by Paul Wernick (“Deadpool”), piqued my interest when it was released in January 2019.

When faced with a decision to pick a service, there are many things to consider: cost, content and accessibility. Or, you could try all three!

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How to Choose a Streaming Service