The live-streaming market has grown exponentially over the past few years and right now, the three main players are Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime Instant Video. All three have their advantages and disadvantages, depending on what matters to you. Here is how each service rates on the most important aspects:
Amazon recently increased the price of Instant Video to $99 and Netflix raised the streaming price from $7.99 to $8.99 a month for new users, putting you at $108 per year. Hulu Plus will run you $96 per year.
Amazon does get a slight advantage since you’re getting free shipping on all of your Amazon orders through Amazon Prime. Amazon also enables customers to get deals on current seasons of shows that are still filming. Hulu Plus cannot win because they force you to watch commercials with a paid account.
Supported Devices: Amazon
All of them are available on smart TVs and blu-ray plays, DVRs, game consoles, computers and mobile devices. Amazon also has an upcoming release of its new steaming device – Fire TV, which puts it slightly ahead to win the battle on supported devices.
Ease of Use: Netflix
Netflix has always provided a great user experience, even since the day of its birth. However, thanks to new ways to stream live movies and TV along with the simplest way to stream content, Netflix is by far the easiest of the three steaming services to use. Plus, Netflix allows you to have a favorites list and it “learns” what types of movies and TV shows to suggest to you.
Amazon isn’t far behind Netflix and Hulu Plus has had some recent upgrades to help make it easier to find shows you commonly watch or shows you may be interested in.
Content Quality: Netflix
In addition, Netflix offers the most up to date software to support better video quality on all content whereas Amazon and Hulu only offer this on select content.
Of course, your computer and internet connection will play a huge part in the quality of your video and audio. Many users are not pleased with having to watch commercials they cannot skip with the paid service of Hulu Plus. Netflix offers a substantially overall quality of video and content, which is why it wins this category as well.
Amount of Content: Netflix
Netflix blows Hulu and Amazon out of the water here. Netflix offers around 75,000 compared to Amazon’s 40,000 (they offer 150,000 total, but have limited titles for Prime). Netflix also offers a few plans for DVD delivery and their library is even larger if you total both.
Hulu Plus’ content library is even smaller than Amazon. Amazon is slowly gaining on Netflix with exclusive content deals but for the foreseeable future, Netflix is worth the price based on content alone.
Newest Content: Hulu
The one thing Hulu and Amazon really have going for them is that they both offer the latest episodes of your favorite TV shows. Chances are, if you missed an episode of your favorite show, it’ll be on Amazon or Hulu within a day or two. It seems that Hulu has more shows than Amazon. Netflix can take significantly longer to add content and therefore is unreliable for the latest TV shows.
This does come at a price though. Hulu Plus users still have to watch advertisements and most ads will replay over and over again. Amazon does offer the newest episodes of shows, but you’ll be forced to pay a premium, which isn’t something must people want to do.
Although Amazon Prime Instant Video and Hulu Plus have their benefits, Netflix is still the premier video streaming service on the market right now. Netflix has the largest volume of content, the best quality video/audio, offers the most functionality, and has the best original content. Netflix takes the crown for best streaming service.
In reality, if you really want to gain access to as much content as possible, you could sign up for all three services. This will only run you about $25 a month and it will bring you the best of three worlds. I suggest trying their free trials to test each of their services and interfaces. If you’d rather just pick one, we suggest Netflix. You won’t be sorry.