It’s no secret how popular streaming video services have become. According to Deloitte’s 2018 Digital Media Trends Survey, over 55 percent of U.S. households were subscribed to a paid video streaming service in 2017. In early 2018, 10 percent of all TV usage was through video streaming, according to Nielsen.
Over the years, competition has forced streaming services to keep up with consumers’ demand—so much so that it can be difficult to pick a service to join.
When it comes to deciding to subscribe to a streaming service, Deloitte’s survey said that people value the ability to watch content whenever and wherever they want.
“It’s about timeshifting,” said Kevin Westcott, vice chairman and U.S. telecom and media leader at Deloitte LLP and lead author of the survey. “That’s the No. 1 reason.”
For 49 percent of people in the survey, their decision is also driven by which service gives them access to exclusive content.
“There has been a belief that it was about having a very, very large library of content to fulfill any need, but what we find is that the volume of content that people are actually watching is relatively narrow,” Westcott said. “So it goes back to having content that is targeted.”
Here’s how the three streaming services compare and things to consider before subscribing to each one.
Price: $7.99 month for one-screen-at-a-time SD streaming, $10.99 for two-screens-at-a-time HD streaming, and $13.99 for four-screen-at-a-time Ultra HD streaming.
Pros: All Netflix plans offer unlimited movie and TV streaming from a laptop, TV, phone or tablet. Those with an iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet, or a Windows 10 computer can download content to watch offline. Subscribers have access to 5,579 programs, including 4,010 movies and 1,569 TV shows. Of these programs, over 650 are originals, including hits like Stranger Things and Orange Is the New Black.
Cons: It can take months for new shows to be uploaded to the platform after airing on other networks. For example, the new season of The CW’s Riverdale premiered in October 2017 but hit the streaming service in May 2018. Additionally, subscribers are not able to download content to their Apple computers.
Price: Hulu plans start at $7.99 per month for one-screen-at-a-time access to their streaming library with limited commercials or $11.99 per month for commercial-free streaming. Hulu also offers plans that include live TV. For $39.99 per month, subscribers receive two-screens-at-a-time streaming and 50 hours of cloud DVR space. Alternatively, for $54.98 per month, subscribers can fast-forward through all content—including commercials—and receive 200 hours of cloud DVR space.
Pros: Hulu subscribers have access to over 3,500 movies and TV shows. Of these programs, 30 of them are originals, including The Handmaid’s Tale and The Path. Additionally, new episodes of some ABC, NBC, and Fox shows—such as This Is Us, Grey’s Anatomy, and Bob’s Burgers—are uploaded to Hulu the day after they air.
Cons: Those who subscribe to Hulu’s live TV plan can only watch live TV on their Apple or Android devices or through a TV streaming device, such as a Roku—live TV content is not available on a laptop. (The company says it is currently developing a way for this to happen.) Also, Hulu doesn’t currently allow users to download content for offline viewing, though they have announced that the feature is in the works.
Amazon Prime Video
Price: Amazon Prime Video is included in Amazon Prime memberships, which cost $12.99 per month or $119 per year. Members of an Amazon Household that share Prime benefits also have access to Prime video. Memberships to only the Amazon Prime Video service are also available for $8.99 per month.
Pros: Subscribers to Amazon Prime Video can watch thousands of TV shows and movies, including 19 originals such as Mozart in the Jungle and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Content can also be downloaded onto an iPhone, iPad or Android device to watch offline.
Cons: There currently isn’t a way to download content from Amazon Prime Video to a laptop. Additionally, not all the programs in the video library are included with the membership, meaning you may have to rent or buy a title in order to watch it.