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In the Digital Streaming Age, Which Service Deserves Your Money?

Illustration by Kate Greenblatt

If you were stranded on a desert island, completely alone and with no prospect of escape, with only one of these three things to keep you company for the rest of your solitary days, which would you choose: Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime?

You may think you know exactly which one you’d pick, but be careful! You’re stuck on this island forever, and this is the streaming service you’re going to be spending the rest of your life with. Have you weighed the pros and cons? Examined the facts? Analyzed the statistics? If not, that’s okay, because I did, and I’m here to tell you: you should pick Netflix. But before we get into why, let’s start at the beginning.

Nowadays, people probably watch more content on streaming platforms than on satellite or cable television, and people definitely watch more movies on streaming platforms than on DVD. The huge market for on-demand content is only growing, which naturally leads to a ton of competition between streaming services to win over potential subscribers. Nowhere is the rivalry more intense than between the big three of the streaming world: Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. All three sites want your money, that’s for sure, but which site deserves it?

Let’s break it down. For $12.99 a month, you have access to a great selection of titles on Amazon Prime, including lots of popular box office hits like Baywatch, Twilight, and Arrival, as well as awards-circuit darlings like Lady Bird, Moonlight, and Manchester by the Sea. However, Amazon Prime’s selection of TV shows is a bit thin, despite their attempts to carve out a spot for Prime Originals. That isn’t to say that there aren’t any TV shows on the site worth watching (Prime does have Downton Abbey and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, after all), but most of the TV shows offered on the site don’t have much of an audience following, and aren’t likely to interest the average Prime subscriber.

Compared to Amazon Prime, Hulu could be considered the “curated collection.” For $7.99 a month, you can watch any of Hulu’s (small) share of popular movies like Boo! A Madea Halloween and Star Trek Beyond, in addition to a broader selection of highly-rated TV shows like Bob’s Burgers and Empire. Hulu’s collection of movies may definitely be too small and interest-specific for many viewers, and though they have a good range of quality TV shows, it doesn’t make up for their puny movie library.

Netflix is the best of both worlds. For the same price as Hulu ($7.99 a month), you can choose from crowd-pleasers like Black Panther, Coco, and Mamma Mia, or you can delve into Netflix’s tailored collection of more niche offerings such as Moonrise Kingdom and Amelie. Netflix also boasts an impressive array of ‘80s and ‘90s favorites that can’t be found on either Amazon Prime or Hulu, like The Breakfast Club, Heathers, and Jurassic Park.

Not only does Netflix have a range of popular movies to compete with Amazon Prime, and a curated selection to give Hulu a run for its money, but it also has something that neither sites have: Netflix Originals. Whether you’re talking about insanely popular Stranger Things, the hilariously moving Orange is the New Black, or the soothingly delicious Great British Baking Show, Netflix Originals are universally well-written and thoughtful. Hulu Originals and Amazon Originals just don’t compare, and they are definitely not worth missing out on Netflix Originals for.

If you’re going to spend money, you should make sure you get the most out of it, and Netflix definitely gives you the most bang for your buck. Netflix has everything that Amazon Prime and Hulu can offer, in addition to the added bonus of Netflix Originals. That means that if you subscribe to Netflix, you’re getting more than you can get at Hulu for the same price, and more than you can get at Amazon Prime for $4 more!

Still not convinced? Hulu has 20 million subscribers worldwide, Amazon Prime has 26 million subscribers worldwide, and Netflix has 118 million.

The stats don’t lie. Netflix is better.