Binge-Watch to Your Heart’s Content
The era of cable and satellite TV is coming to an end as more and more people are choosing to pay for streaming services. Live TV is not only more expensive than streaming services, but it no longer offers what people want.
According to the numbers, most viewers of live television are older individuals. A study done by the Pew Research Center showed that 61% of people aged 18-29 get their TV fix primarily from streaming. Something else to keep in mind, is young people keep their eyes glued to their smart devices, such as smartphones and tablets; both devices where streaming services thrive. The future waits for no one, and live TV simply can’t keep up with the times.
The once impressive HDTVs of the last generation have been pushed aside by the rise of 4K TVs/Smart TVs that offer streaming functionality. It’s only a matter a time before live TV is completely dead, and there’s no reason for anyone to jump aboard a sinking ship.
That being said, it’s high time for you to pick a streaming service to use, isn’t it? There are a lot of streaming services to choose from, for better or worse.
We’ve narrowed it down to three competitors: Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. We’ll also be talking about a few high-potential streaming services that will be launching toward the end of 2019. Let’s get started on helping you find the best TV streaming service so you can easily watch TV online.
- Basic: $8.99/month
- Standard: $12.99/month
- Premium: $15.99/month
Netflix has been a dominant force in the streaming service market for years. They were ranked as the fastest growing brand in 2018-2019, doubling their value in a year. Back in January, Netflix claimed to have 10% of all TV time in the United States.
Netflix is also extremely popular among young people, who are the primary demographic for streaming services. Britain’s BBC has openly admitted that more young people watch Netflix than BBC. What is it about Netflix that has people so hooked?
Advantages of Netflix
Netflix is all about original content. Over the last couple years, Netflix has been cutting back on third-party content and focusing on exclusives. In 2018, 85% of their budget went to their original content. Their plan is to have at least 50% of their content be original. And they certainly have a pretty stellar original content lineup.
With widely successful shows such as Orange Is the New Black, Stranger Things, 13 Reasons Why, House of Cards and the Netflix MCU shows, Netflix offers up high-quality shows that you won’t be able to watch on any other streaming services.
While the vast majority of Netflix’s focus and budget has gone to original programming, the streaming service juggernaut has also been spending a ton of money on stand-up comedy specials.
It started back in 2012 when Netflix gave comedian Bill Burr his own string of stand-up specials. Since then, Netflix has made big comedy acquisitions, nabbing deals with legendary comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Ricky Gervais and Dave Chappelle. Rock, Gervais and Chappelle have each been paid $20 million per stand-up special, and Seinfeld has been paid a whopping $100 million for several stand-up specials as well as rights to stream his popular web show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
Netflix has a ton of stand-up specials on their service now, and continues adding specials practically every week. Netflix pretty much outperforms the combined efforts of HBO, Showtime and Comedy Central when it comes to comedy.
If laughing is your thing, there’s no better streaming service to get than Netflix.
You know it, you love it. And if you don’t, you should watch it and then love it like the rest of us and sing along to the theme song.
I’m talking about Friends — one of the most beloved sitcoms and, genre notwithstanding, TV shows of all time. Fans who watched the show when it first aired are more than happy to watch it again, and the show has gained a lot of new fans among young people as well.
In fact, according to an annual survey on media habits in the UK, Friends is the most popular show to watch among UK youths. In TV Time’s Binge Report annual rankings, Friends was the most binged-watched show of 2018.
So it makes complete sense that Netflix paid $80 million for the rights to continue streaming Friends on their platform in 2019. It’s that popular.
One thing to keep in mind however, is that the Friends train on Netflix is likely to end this year.
Entire Seasons Released at Once
Arguably one of Netflix’s greatest decisions is releasing every episode of their original shows all at once. Do you hate having to wait a week for the next episode to show up? I know I do. How about TV shows that take mid-season breaks and are gone for months? Talk about a drag. For Netflix’s original shows, every episode of the newest season is released day one. And this is an absolute godsend.
There are few things more enjoyable on a snowy day than binge-watching the latest season of your favorite Netflix Original.
Streaming on Four Screens at Once
Netflix’s premium plan is the most expensive option on this list, but it also provides the most streaming benefits. Netflix subscribers with the premium plan are able to stream on up to four devices at once.
Amazon Prime lets you stream to two devices, and Hulu’s streaming-only plans only let you stream from one device.
Accessibility and Convenience
Another great thing about Netflix is how accessible and convenient it is. Netflix subscribers can use the service on a number of devices. Remember how I said Friends was the most-watched show among UK youths? 80% of those youths watched the show on their phone.
Along with being able to watch Netflix via smart devices such as tablets and smartphones, users can also enjoy the streaming service via Smart TVs, Blu-ray Players, and even video game consoles. Netflix also allows for offline viewing, which is great when you’re traveling somewhere with shoddy or non-existent WiFi.
Netflix also has a pretty clean user interface that makes it easy to navigate, set up preferences, and weed out content/genres that you are uninterested in. You should have no trouble using Netflix’s service, even if you’re not the most technologically savvy person.
Disadvantages of Netflix
Less Content Than Amazon Prime
While Netflix does have more content than Hulu (Hulu has an estimated 4,000 titles for you to choose from), it has much less content than Amazon Prime. Netflix currently has around 5,500 TV shows and movies to enjoy, where Amazon Prime has around 20,000.
The amount of content on Netflix has been sliced in half since 2012 when the company had around 11,000 TV shows and movies. Given the fact that Netflix is focusing more and more on original content, it seems likely that the number of TV shows and movies that Netflix has will continue to decline.
Netflix Will Suffer Major Third-Party Content Casualties in the Upcoming Streaming Wars
Many media giants are jumping into the streaming industry, and Netflix’s third-party content is going to be taking some major hits because of this.
Disney announced they would be starting up their own streaming service back in 2017, and immediately after, began removing Marvel and Star Wars content from Netflix. The popular animated Star Wars shows, The Clone Wars, was just removed from Netflix this month. Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Solo: A Star Wars Story are the last Marvel and Star Wars movies that will ever be on Netflix, and are slated for removal in July 2020.
All Netflix’s widely popular Marvel shows, Daredevil, The Punisher, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, have been canceled. There are many rumors swirling around that the shows will be revived, but if they are, it won’t be on Netflix.
When it’s all said and done, all Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars content will be purged from Netflix for good and will be moved over to Disney+ which is slated for launch in late 2019.
Those aren’t the only major hits Netflix will be taking. Remember when I said 2019 would be the last hurrah for Friends on Netflix? That’s because Warner Media, which owns the rights to the show, is starting up its own streaming service in late 2019 as well. So enjoy it while it lasts.
As more media giants enter the streaming war, expect more of your favorites to disappear from Netflix’s catalog.
Netflix Is Extremely Slow Adding More Episodes/Seasons of Third-Party Shows
One of the biggest complaints about Netflix is how long the streaming service takes to add seasons of third-party shows to their platform.
Netflix may do a huge service to their customer base by releasing every episode in the season for their original programming shows all at once, but when it comes to third-party shows, Netflix is honestly terrible. It’s not uncommon to have to wait up to six months for another season of the show you’re watching to show up on Netflix. Even when said shows are years old and have long since gone off the air, Netflix won’t have every season in the series.
If You Want to Keep up with the New Shows on Traditional Television, Netflix Isn’t for You
Do you want to ditch traditional TV but still want to watch some of the new TV shows found on traditional TV channels? Then you may want to rethink subscribing to Netflix.
Hulu uploads episodes of the newest TV shows the day after they air. Amazon Prime TV allows you to buy episodes or seasons of new TV shows right after they air as well.
You can expect to wait months before any of these shows arrive on Netflix. Your friends will be talking about Season 2, and you’ll still be on Season 1: Episode 4.
Amazon Prime TV
- Amazon Prime: $12.99/month or $119/year (1-month free trial)
- Amazon Prime Student: $59/year (6-month free trial)
- Amazon Prime Video-Only: $8.99/month
Coming in second place is Prime TV from Amazon. At this point, Amazon is pretty much a corporate empire. Back in January, Amazon overtook Microsoft as the most valuable public company in the world. CEO Jeff Bezos is the richest man on earth.
This is thanks to Amazon having its hands in many different industries, and dominating a fair portion of them. With involvement in industries like online retail, online grocery, cloud computing and robotics, and with companies like Whole Foods, Audible, Zappos, PillPack and more under their control, Amazon’s empire keeps getting bigger and bigger.
You might think that since Amazon is stretching themselves so much, that their streaming service wouldn’t be as good as competitors who place more focus on streaming, but you’d be dead wrong. Amazon Prime TV is quite good. Here’s why.
Advantages of Prime TV
Prime TV Is Just One of Many Benefits That Come from Being an Amazon Prime Subscriber
While you can sign up for just a Prime Video subscription, it’s highly recommended to spend $4 extra a month and get the full Amazon Prime subscription. If you do, Prime TV comes as one of many benefits that Amazon Prime members enjoy. And what benefits does Amazon Prime offer you? A lot. Here are just some of them:
- Free 2-day shipping
- Free same-day shipping
- Free release-date shipping
- Free no-rush shipping
- Amazon Channels (pay an additional fee to watch TV networks)
- Unlimited access to Amazon Music
- Unlimited access to Amazon Photos
- Prime Reading
- Amazon First Reads
- Audible Channels for Prime
- Twitch Prime
- Exclusive savings on purchases
No streaming service provides more bang for your buck than Amazon Prime. This is especially true if you are a college student.
Prime TV Has Nearly Four Times as Much Content as Netflix
If you’re bored on a rainy weekend and looking for a new TV series or movie to watch, Prime TV certainly has a big enough selection to browse through. As of 2019, Prime TV has nearly 20,000 TV shows and movies in its catalog.
Prime TV is by far the best streaming service if you’re looking for obscure cult classics or straight-to-video B-list movies.
Amazon Prime has a great selection of TV shows as well. From classics like Boardwalk Empire, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Parks and Recreation, to Amazon Prime Originals like Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Bosch, Red Oaks, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Prime TV is sure to have something for you.
Twitch Prime Is Great for Gamers
For better or worse, Twitch is the foremost streaming platform for video game content. Amazon owns Twitch, and being an Amazon Prime member gives you access to Twitch Prime.
Twitch Prime members can get free in-game items for a variety of games. Massively popular video games like Apex Legends, Fortnite and Runescape have teamed up with Twitch and offer exclusive loot to Twitch Prime members. You can also gain access to free games, as well as exclusive emojis and a free channel subscription every month.
Amazon Prime TV Is the Best Value for College Students
We know college students aren’t exactly rolling in dough, and for that reason, Amazon Prime should be every college student’s first option.
Provided that you prove to Amazon that you are indeed a college student (by signing up with your .edu email account), you will get six months of Amazon Prime access for free! On top of that, once your 6-month free trial period is over, you will have the option of continuing your subscription for 50% off the normal price: a mere $59 a year.
If you are only interested in Prime Video and not the entire Amazon Prime package, then Netflix is probably your best option. But if you like Twitch, exclusive savings and deals, as well as free shipping options, then we highly recommend Amazon Prime.
Disadvantages of Amazon Prime TV
When It Comes to Content, It’s Quantity over Quality
Amazon Prime TV is arguably the Steam of television and movie streaming services. Those of you who are familiar with the digital distribution platform Steam, know that there are a ton of games available for purchase. However, any random Joe or Jane can put their video game on Steam, meaning there is a lot of junk to sift through before you can find something good.
Prime TV is very similar in that while it has a content count nearing 20,000, you can bet your favorite fishing rod that there are going to be plenty of duds in the pile. In searching for a new show or movie to watch, you may get frustrated by how long it takes to find something that will hold your interest.
Rivals Netflix and Hulu don’t have as much content as Prime TV, but they also don’t have as many duds.
The User Interface Is Clunky and Requires You to Do More Work
Prime TV’s interface is nowhere near as good as the UI of Netflix and is somewhat cluttered. Unlike Netflix, the UI doesn’t offer personalized recommendations based on your search and watch history.
Their search function also needs improvement. Prime TV does not weed out TV shows and movies that you need to pay for. You might see something you like and get excited, only to be disappointed when you find out you will need to shell out some extra cash to watch.
Better for Watching Network TV Than Netflix, but Not as Good as Hulu
Prime TV lets users search by specific channels which is a nice plus, but as a downside, you’re going to have to pay for network TV shows and movies.
Prime TV offers up a ton of network content to view, and you can buy movies, episodes, or entire seasons of TV shows.
That being said, Prime Video’s network TV options are quite inferior to that of Hulu.
No Chromecast Compatibility
The two tech giants that are Amazon and Google are fierce rivals, and as such, Prime TV is not supported by Google’s Chromecast devices.
There are workarounds for this, but in all honesty, they are not ideal and it is more trouble than it is worth to get a workaround going. If already have Chromecast and don’t want to get a Roku or Firestick, Prime TV is not for you.
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- Hulu with ads: $5.99/month
- Hulu with no ads: $11.99/month
Rounding out our list is Hulu, which is the most quirky of the three major streaming services. Hulu has come a long way over the years and has earned its spot as the third best streaming service. Hulu isn’t the best overall yet, but it is better than both Netflix and Prime Video in a number of ways.
Advantages of Hulu
The Best Option for Network TV
Thanks to Hulu’s Streaming Library, subscribers will be able to watch the latest episodes of TV shows airing on ABC, NBC, The CW, Fox and CBS right away. Hulu airs episodes of new shows from these networks the day after they air. This is infinitely better than Netflix, which takes ages to get new shows, or Prime TV’s expensive pay-per-episode/season system.
In addition, if you’re looking for a live TV replacement option, Hulu is your best bet here too. For $44.99/month ($50.99/month if you want no ads), you gain access to their Live TV service which offers access to around 70 channels like ESPN, FX, TLC, Discovery Channel, History Channel, and more.
If you really want to go all out, you can add on some more services like enhanced DVR functionality and unlimited streams.
Great Blend of Original Content and Licensed Content
Hulu doesn’t have as much original content as Netflix, nor as much licensed content as Prime Video, but it’s a healthy mixture of both.
Hulu offers up some pretty good original TV shows like The Handmaid’s Tale, Marvel’s Runaways, Harlots, and Chance. The streaming service has plenty of licensed goodies like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Community, Seinfeld, One-Punch Man, The X-Files, and The Twilight Zone.
Speaking from personal experience, I can also say that Hulu is the best streaming service on this list for all the Asian drama addicts out there. With classics like Boys over Flowers, Descendants of the Sun, Oh My Venus, Heartstrings, The Heirs, and more, you’ll be sure to get your Asian drama fix on Hulu.
And don’t worry, Hulu has a great selection of movies as well.
Hulu May be the Next Place to be for Marvel Television
Netflix may be out of luck when it comes to Marvel content, thanks to Disney starting up their own streaming service by the end of this year, but Hulu won’t be having that problem.
Disney happens to have 60% ownership of Hulu, which means Marvel shows and movies are still a go for Hulu. Hulu has stated in the past that they are open to reviving the now dead Marvel Netflix shows, like Daredevil and The Punisher. Given the success of Hulu’s original TV show Runaways, it’s safe to assume we will be getting some more live-action Marvel shows from Hulu in the future.
In addition, Hulu recently sealed a deal with Marvel to release four adult-oriented Marvel animated shows. The shows will focus on Marvel characters Howard the Duck, Tigra, Dazzler, MODOK, and Hit-Monkey. Eventually, all these characters will come together on the show The Offenders.
Hulu’s Accessibility and Convenience Is Almost as Good as Netflix
Just like Netflix, Hulu is available on pretty much every modern device you can think of: smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, current-gen gaming systems, and yes, Chromecast (sorry, Amazon). There are a few devices from Netflix’s list that are missing on Hulu’s such as the Nintendo 3DS (soon to be retired) and the PS Vita (all but an irrelevant and commercial and critical failure) but those aren’t big deals.
Hulu recently rolled out a new user interface to improve their subscriber’s viewing experience. Hulu’s UI isn’t as clean as Netflix’s, but it’s improving and is better than Prime TV’s UI.
Offers the Cheapest Single-Price Option of the Big Three
Shortly after Netflix hiked up the prices of their subscription packages, Hulu dropped the price of one of theirs.
Hulu’s cheapest subscription option has gone from $7.99 a month to $5.99 a month. It comes with ads of course, but if you’re used to traditional TV, it might not bother you too much… More on that next.
Disadvantages of Hulu
The Ads Are Absolutely Terrible
Yes, Hulu has the cheapest subscription option here, but it also has the worst ads.
I don’t think words can describe just how awful the ads are on Hulu. There’s nothing worse than when the action gets good in a TV show and suddenly you get hit with a 90-second ad about BBQ grill lighter fluid or eye drops.
Making it worse, is the fact that some shows have advertisers that are linked to their content so you will have to see the same commercials over and over again. When you’re binge-watching, this can get really annoying, really quickly.
$6 a month might seem like a great deal, but in all honesty, I wouldn’t recommend Hulu with ads to anyone.
No Offline Viewing/Downloading
Sometimes you end up stuck in areas with poor service or slow WiFi and this prevents you from watching TV shows and movies without constant buffering. With Netflix and Prime TV, this isn’t a big issue because both support offline viewing. Hulu however, does not.
It’s 2019, Hulu. You need to get with the times!
Only Available in the United States and Japan
One of Hulu’s biggest flaws is its extremely limited reach. As of now, Hulu is only officially available in the United States and Japan.
There are workarounds using VPNs if you are in any other territory, but the hassle isn’t really worth it when there are other great streaming service options available.
Netflix, Prime TV, and Hulu are unarguably the Big Three among streaming services, but there are two competitors stepping up to the plate in late 2019 that you should keep an eye out for. One of those competitors is Disney+.
Why should you get Disney+? Well, it’s Disney! The name speaks for itself. But in case you need a little more convincing, here are a few things to keep in mind about Disney’s upcoming streaming service.
Aside from Hulu, Disney Content Is Probably Going to be Exclusive to Disney+
Disney started ripping its content off Netflix back in 2017, and once Disney+ is officially off the ground, you can probably say goodbye to all Disney content on Netflix.
Keep in mind that Disney isn’t just Disney anymore. It’s Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, FX, Fox — the list goes on and on. Shows like The Simpsons and Modern Family now fall under the massive Disney banner. X-Men and Fantastic Four are now finally home at Marvel again. Disney+ is going to have a lot of quality licensed content right out of the gate, which will be a huge plus for them.
Most Family-Friendly Streaming Service
Disney made its name off its beloved, family-friendly animated children’s films and, despite the many acquisitions it’s made over the years, family-friendly is still what it’s known for. Accordingly, it’s likely Disney+ will be kept as PG as possible, with the more violent or adult-oriented TV shows and movies likely to be offloaded onto Hulu.
Disney’s intent to keep Disney+ family-friendly is likely the main reason Hulu is in talks about reviving the Netflix Marvel TV shows, and why Marvel’s four upcoming adult animated shows will be on Hulu. Expect Deadpool to be on Hulu as well.
It’s Apparently Going to be Cheap
You’d think Disney would charge a pretty penny for a one-stop shop for all things Disney, Marvel and Star Wars (among many other things), but apparently a Disney+ subscription will start at $6.99 a month! That’s a lot of quality TV shows and movies for a small fee.
Disney+ is slated for release on November 12.
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WarnerMedia, the combination of AT&T and Warner Bros, will be releasing their own streaming service sometime later this year. Although there isn’t a name for their streaming service yet, so far they have a lot to offer.
WarnerMedia owns TBS and, as such, owns Friends. Given how successful the show is on Netflix, it is more than likely to become exclusive of WarnerMedia’s streaming platform. Enjoy it on Netflix while you can.
Disney has Marvel and WarnerMedia has DC Comics, so expect the Titans to clash. DC has a ton of classic, old animated shows like Justice League, Superman: The Animated Series, and Static Shock. Newer entries, like Young Justice, are also very popular.
DC has been churning out new releases with Titans, Doom Patrol, and a rumored Swamp Thing series, so expect WarnerMedia’s streaming service to be the place to be for DC fans.
Winter is coming, and it is coming to WarnerMedia’s streaming service.
That’s right — WarnerMedia owns HBO, so it also owns Game of Thrones. That alone is enough to perk up people’s ears, but HBO is also home to classics like The Wire, The Sopranos, and Entourage. Being able to binge-watch shows like that all in once place sounds like heaven to me.
There is no set release date for WarnerMedia’s streaming service at this time. There are also no hints as to what the pricing will be like, but there will be three tiers of subscription packages.
The Streaming Wars are about to begin, and there is no telling what service will come out on top. One thing is for certain, however: the consumers win no matter what.