The Ultimate Comparison Guide: Netflix vs. Hulu vs. Amazon Prime vs. Paramount Plus vs. Peacock vs. Apple TV+

Streaming services have revolutionized the way we watch TV and movies. Choosing the right streaming platform can be overwhelming with so many available options. This comprehensive guide compares the six most popular services—Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+, Peacock, and Apple TV+—across key factors like content libraries, pricing, platforms, and extra features. Read on for an in-depth look at how these streamers stack against each other.

Content Libraries

The streaming service you choose largely depends on the TV shows and movies you want to watch. Here’s how the content libraries of these major streamers compare.

Netflix

As the veteran streaming platform launched in 2007, Netflix offers an extensive content library with classic hits and original programming.

Some highlights of what you can find on Netflix include:

  • Netflix Originals: Stranger Things, The Crown, Bridgerton, Ozark, Squid Game, Wednesday
  • TV: Breaking Bad, The Office, Grey’s Anatomy, Gilmore Girls
  • Movies: The Irishman, Marriage Story, Roma, Don’t Look Up, Glass Onion
  • Kids & Family: Gabby’s Dollhouse, Floor is Lava, Ada Twist Scientist

Netflix has invested heavily in original content, releasing around 250 Netflix Originals annually [1]. Big-budget films and series like Red Notice, The Gray Man, and Heartstopper have established Netflix as a go-to destination for buzz-worthy original programming. While Netflix has lost some major licensed titles to competitors, its diverse catalog of Netflix Originals continues to grow.

Hulu

Owned by Disney, Hulu (www.hulu.com) offers popular shows, movies, and originals, both old and new.

Top Hulu content includes:

  • TV: The Handmaid’s Tale, How I Met Your Father, Only Murders in the Building, Atlanta
  • Movies: Prey, Palm Springs, Parasite, Portrait of a Lady on Fire
  • FX on Hulu: American Horror Story, Atlanta, What We Do in the Shadows, Archer
  • Kids: Bluey, Adventure Time, Gravity Falls
  • Classic Sitcoms: Seinfeld, Golden Girls, Family Guy, South Park

Hulu carries current episodes of hit network and cable shows the day after they air, making it a top destination for timely TV [2]. The service has also invested in acclaimed original programming through FX on Hulu. However, Hulu’s movie selection is fairly limited compared to other streamers.

Amazon Prime Video

Included with an Amazon Prime subscription, Prime Video (www.primevideo.com) offers a mix of well-known shows, movies, and buzzworthy originals.

Prime Video’s library includes:

  • Originals: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Boys, The Wheel of Time, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
  • Movies: The Big Sick, The Lost City, No Time to Die, Coming 2 America
  • TV: Downton Abbey, The Americans, Mr. Robot, House
  • Kids: Peppa Pig, Pokemon, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

While not as robust as Netflix’s catalog, Prime Video offers acclaimed originals and licensed titles to appeal to various audiences. It’s a strong option for those already subscribed to Amazon Prime. However, those without Prime will find Prime Video’s library lacking compared to cheaper services.

Paramount+

After rebranding from CBS All Access in 2021, Paramount+ (www.paramountplus.com) offers live sports, news, and content across ViacomCBS’ brands [3].

Paramount+ is home to:

  • Originals: 1883, Mayor of Kingstown, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
  • Movies: Top Gun: Maverick, Smile, The Lost City
  • TV: Survivor, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Criminal Minds
  • Kids: Spongebob Squarepants, iCarly, Avatar: The Last Airbender
  • Live sports: NFL, UEFA Champions League

From CBS reality shows to Comedy Central hits to Paramount movies, this streamer combines robust live offerings with content from ViacomCBS’ well-known TV networks and film studios. However, it noticeably lacks third-party content outside of the ViacomCBS umbrella.

Peacock

Launched in 2020, Peacock (www.peacocktv.com) is NBCUniversal’s streaming home for classic sitcoms, original programming, and timely exclusives [4].

Top Peacock content includes:

  • Originals: Girls5eva, The Resort, Vampire Academy
  • TV: The Office, Saturday Night Live, Keeping Up with the Kardashians
  • Movies: Jurassic World Dominion, Minions: The Rise of Gru
  • Classic Sitcoms: Cheers, Frasier, 30 Rock
  • Live sports & events: Sunday Night Football, WWE

Offering a free tier with ads, Peacock is the exclusive streaming home for new NBC series and WWE events. While its original slate is still growing, Peacock offers a huge backcatalog of classic comedies and dramas. Sports fans can also catch shows like Sunday Night Football through Peacock.

Apple TV+

Launched in 2019, Apple TV+ (tv.apple.com) focuses solely on original programming centered on big names and cinematic quality [5].

Apple TV+ highlights include:

  • Original series & films: Severance, Ted Lasso, CODA, The Morning Show
  • Upcoming projects: Killers of the Flower Moon, Tetris, Gutsy

With a selective content strategy focused on prestige projects, Apple TV+ has quickly garnered attention for standout originals like Ted Lasso and Severance. However, the lack of a back catalog or licensed content makes its library extremely limited—especially compared to Netflix. Right now, Apple TV+ thrives on offering quality over quantity.

Pricing

Pricing can vary widely depending on the streaming service. Here’s how much each platform costs for ad-free plans.

  • Netflix: From $6.99–$19.99 per month
  • Hulu: $14.99 per month
  • Amazon Prime Video: Included with $14.99 per month Prime membership or $8.99 per month separately
  • Paramount+: $9.99 per month with limited ads, $12.99 with no ads
  • Peacock: $4.99 per month with ads, $9.99 with no ads
  • Apple TV+: $6.99 per month

Netflix offers the widest range of plans to suit different budgets. Hulu and Apple TV+ fall in the middle price-wise. Paramount+ and Peacock compete on affordability with ad-supported options under $5. Amazon Prime Video looks priciest by itself but comes bundled with Prime membership perks like free shipping.

When weighing costs, also consider channel add-ons some services offer. For example, Hulu subscribers can pay to add premium channels like HBO Max or platforms like ESPN+. Paramount+ offers similar channel add-on options. Factor these costs into your decision if you want access to extra content beyond the base platform.

Supported Devices

With people streaming on various devices today, availability across platforms is key. Here is where you can access the top streaming services:

  • Netflix: Smart TVs, iOS/Android mobile, Roku, Chromecast, Fire TV, Blu-ray players, web browser
  • Hulu: Smart TVs, iOS/Android mobile, Roku, Chromecast, Fire TV, Xbox, PlayStation, web browser
  • Amazon Prime Video: Smart TVs, iOS/Android mobile, Roku, Chromecast, Fire TV, Blu-ray players, web browser
  • Paramount+: Smart TVs, iOS/Android mobile, Roku, Chromecast, Fire TV, Xbox, web browser
  • Peacock: Smart TVs, iOS/Android mobile, Roku, Chromecast, Fire TV, Xbox, PlayStation, web browser
  • Apple TV+: iOS/Android mobile, Smart TVs (via AirPlay), Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast, web browser

Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video have near-universal device availability. Paramount+ and Peacock have also expanded across platforms. Apple TV+ has more limited support, given Apple’s closed ecosystem. But all six services are accessible across the most popular streaming devices.

Streaming Quality

With 4K and HDR now mainstream, many wonder which services offer the best streaming quality. Here are the technical capabilities of each platform:

  • Netflix: Up to 4K HDR; Select titles in Dolby Atmos & Vision
  • Hulu: Up to 4K, some HDR
  • Amazon Prime Video: Up to 4K HDR; Select titles in Dolby Vision
  • Paramount+: Up to 4K, some HDR
  • Peacock: Up to 4K HDR
  • Apple TV+: Up to 4K HDR; Select titles in Dolby Vision & Atmos

Netflix and Prime Video offer the most robust support for 4K, HDR, and immersive Dolby audio. Hulu and Paramount+ stream some content in 4K but lack features like Dolby Vision. Meanwhile, Peacock and Apple TV+ offer excellent 4K HDR quality for their original programming. Overall, having a compatible 4K TV and internet speeds over 25 Mbps will deliver the best experience across these platforms.

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Extra Features

Beyond just TV shows and movies, today’s streaming platforms offer additional features that set them apart. Here are some of the extras and perks you’ll find on top streamers.

Netflix

  • Offline downloads for mobile
  • User profiles for personalized recommendations
  • Behind-the-scenes extras
  • Interactive shows where viewers control the story (ex. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch)

Hulu

  • Offline viewing for mobile
  • Multiple streams included depending on the plan
  • Cloud DVR for recording live TV
  • Add-on channels like HBO Max, ESPN+ available

Amazon Prime Video

  • Offline downloads for mobile
  • X-ray trivia overlays and cast information
  • Multiple user profiles
  • Access to free e-books & magazines

Paramount+

  • Offline downloads for mobile
  • Live sports & news included
  • Cloud DVR for recording live CBS
  • Add-on channels like Showtime available

Peacock

  • Some titles available for offline download
  • Free streaming tier with ads
  • Early late-night show access at 8 PM ET
  • Live sports streaming

Apple TV+

  • Highest video quality of any streaming service
  • Downloads for offline viewing
  • Access to Apple Music is also included
  • Works across Apple devices (ex., from iPhone to Apple TV)

Offline downloads, multiple profiles, Dolby Vision/Atmos, and cloud DVR capabilities are some of the extras today’s top streamers offer. Consider which additional features appeal to you most when picking a service.

Top Movies & Shows by Genre

We’ve explored these platforms’ overall content libraries. Let’s dive into top titles across popular genres to see which services cater to your tastes.

Drama

Netflix – The Crown, Ozark, Godless, Passing

Hulu – Only Murders in the Building, The Handmaid’s Tale, Normal People

Amazon – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Underground Railroad, The Underground Railroad

Paramount+ – Evil, The Good Fight, The Offer

Peacock – Bel-Air, The Resort, Dr. Death

Apple TV+ – The Morning Show, Severance, Pachinko

With acclaimed original series and licensed hits, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon lead for dramas. Paramount+, Peacock, and Apple TV+ also house growing prestige drama slates worth checking out.

Comedy

Netflix – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Never Have I Ever, Heartstopper

Hulu – Only Murders in the Building, How I Met Your Father, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Amazon – Fleabag, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Upload

Paramount+ – Frasier, RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, Inside Amy Schumer

Peacock – Girls5eva, Rutherford Falls, Saturday Night Live

Apple TV+ – Ted Lasso, Schmigadoon!, Trying

For laughs, Netflix and Hulu offer the deepest comedy benches. But don’t count out standout recent sitcoms on Peacock and Apple TV+, plus classics on Paramount+.

Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Netflix – Stranger Things, The Witcher, Wednesday

Hulu – What We Do in the Shadows, Castle Rock

Amazon – The Wheel of Time, The Boys, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

Paramount+ – Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Halo

Peacock – Vampire Academy, The Girl in the Woods

Apple TV+ – Foundation, Invasion, See

Netflix dominates for imaginative genre hits like Stranger Things, with Amazon close behind through costly epics like Lord of the Rings. But all streamers now boast a worthy sci-fi and fantasy lineup.

Reality & Talk Shows

Netflix – Love is Blind, Selling Sunset

Hulu – The Kardashians, Below Deck, 90 Day Fiance

Amazon – Lizzo’s Watch Out For The Big Grrrls

Paramount+ – Big Brother, RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, The Challenge

Peacock – The Amber Ruffin Show, Paris in Love, Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip

Apple TV+ – Oprah Conversation, The Problem with Jon Stewart

For buzzy reality programming, Netflix and Hulu lead. Paramount+ offers ViacomCBS mainstays like Big Brother. Peacock and Apple TV+ have fewer but compelling reality and talk options.

Kids & Family

Netflix – Ada Twist Scientist, StoryBots, Gabby’s Dollhouse

Hulu – Bluey, Adventure Time, Animaniacs

Amazon – Pete the Cat, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

Paramount+ – SpongeBob SquarePants, iCarly, Avatar: The Last Airbender

Peacock – Curious George, Where’s Waldo?

Apple TV+ – Hello Jack! The Kindness Show, Stillwater

Thanks to animations like Bluey and live-action series like iCarly, Hulu, and Paramount+ lead for family-friendly programming. But Netflix and others also offer quality kids’ content perfect for young streamers.

Documentaries

Netflix – Our Planet, Making a Murderer, 13th

Hulu – Fyre Fraud, Hillary

Amazon – Lucy and Desi, LulaRich

Paramount+ – The Invisible Pilot, Watergate: High Crimes in the White House

Peacock – John Wayne Gacy: Devil in Disguise, Titletown High

Apple TV+ – They Call Me Magic, The Year Earth Changed

Non-fiction programming thrives on Netflix, with its endless true crime and nature docs. Other streamers house intriguing docs as well, just in smaller amounts, given their differing content strategies.

International

Netflix – Squid Game (South Korea), Dark (Germany), Money Heist (Spain)

Hulu – Acapulco (Mexico), W. (France)

Amazon – Breathe (India), Catherine Called Birdy (Hungary)

Paramount+ – Cecilia (Argentina), Los Enviados (Paraguay)

Peacock – Irma Vep (France)

Apple TV+ – Pachinko (Korea), Slow Horses (UK)

Thanks to a global outlook, Netflix offers the most diverse collection of international titles like Squid Game. But other streamers have also expanded their international offerings in recent years.

Classic Movies

Netflix – Taxi Driver, Pulp Fiction, Hook

Hulu – Alien, Top Gun, Do the Right Thing

Amazon – Steel Magnolias, Silence of the Lambs

Paramount+ – Chinatown, Grease, Mission Impossible

Peacock – E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Back to the Future, Shrek

Apple TV+ – No back catalog of licensed films

For iconic films, Paramount+ naturally leads, given the Paramount studio’s deep archives. Peacock and Hulu also house many classic hits. Netflix offers landmark titles, albeit fewer than some competitors with big studio backlogs.

Recent Movies

Netflix – Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Blonde, The Gray Man

Hulu – Prey, Fire Island, Palm Springs

Amazon – Coming 2 America, My Policeman, Hotel Transylvania: Transformation

Paramount+ – Top Gun: Maverick, The Lost City, Smile

Peacock – Jurassic World: Dominion, Minions: Rise of Gru

Apple TV+ – No recent theatrical films

For movies currently in theaters or recent big-screen releases, Paramount+ tops the list thanks to Paramount Pictures. Peacock also has same-year Universal films. Netflix churns out original movies at a rapid pace. And Hulu and Amazon grab plenty of recent indies and smaller films. But Apple TV+ lacks any theatrically released movies as it focuses solely on originals.

Live Sports

Netflix – No live sports

Hulu – Limited live sports like some MLB NBA games with add-ons

Amazon – Thursday Night Football, some tennis

Paramount+ – NFL, UEFA Champions League, NCAA Basketball

Peacock – Sunday Night Football, Premier League, Olympics

Apple TV+ – Friday Night Baseball (MLB)

For streaming live sports, Paramount+ and Peacock come out on top with rights to massive leagues like the NFL, EPL, and more. Amazon also airs NFL, while Apple TV+ has exclusive MLB games. Hulu and Netflix don’t focus on live sports.

Live News

Netflix – No live news

Hulu – ABC News Live, Cheddar News

Amazon – No live news

Paramount+ – CBS News Network, CBS Sports HQ

Peacock – NBC News Now, Sky News

Apple TV+ – No live news

Paramount+ and Peacock lead for 24/7 live news thanks to offerings from CBS, NBC, and others. Hulu has some live news programming, but not to the same extent. Netflix, Prime, and Apple TV+ lack any live news content.

Supported Languages

Whether you want content to watch in another language or turn on subtitles, here are the languages supported on each streaming platform:

Netflix

  • 31 available languages for subtitles & dubs [6]
  • Includes: Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese

Hulu

  • 17 available languages for subtitles [7]
  • Includes: Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean

Amazon Prime Video

  • Subtitles: ~15 languages
  • Dubbed audio: 4 languages [8]

Paramount+

  • Subtitles and audio in 27 languages [9]

Peacock

  • Subtitles in 6 languages
  • Some Spanish language programming

Apple TV+

  • Subtitles & dubs in over 40 languages [10]
  • Includes: Spanish, Hindi, French, German, Korean

Thanks to global reach, Netflix and Apple TV+ support the most languages for subtitles and overdubs. Hulu, Paramount+, and Peacock offer fewer but still include key languages like Spanish. Prime Video lags for accessibility with limited subtitle languages available.

Recommendation Algorithms

Beyond just housing content, streaming services aim to surface titles you’ll actually want to watch. Their recommendation algorithms are crucial. Here is how they compare:

Netflix

  • 75% of viewing comes from recommendations [11]
  • The algorithm considers genres, actors, viewing history
  • Frequently refreshes homepage with new suggestions

Hulu

  • Personalized For You page based on viewing
  • Tracks favorite shows to improve suggestions
  • The watchlist is pre-populated with recommended shows to add
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Amazon Prime Video

  • Homepage organizes titles into genre rows
  • Frequently highlights original & trending titles up top
  • Viewing history impacts some suggestions

Paramount+

  • New & noteworthy titles on the homepage
  • Some rows are tailored to viewing habits.
  • Spotlights titles from subscribed channels

Peacock

  • Curated channels by theme
  • Daily highlights on the homepage
  • Personalized For You recommendations based on likes

Apple TV+

  • The limited algorithm is given a small catalog.
  • Weekly highlights email
  • Row for suggested series on the homepage

Thanks to mountains of data, Netflix has mastered recommendations. Hulu and Peacock also surface surprisingly relevant titles. Prime Video’s algorithm is more basic but evolving. Paramount+ and Apple TV+ have minimal personalization so far.

Supported Devices for Offline Viewing

Many streaming apps let you download titles to watch offline. Here are the supported devices with offline playback:

Netflix

  • iOS
  • Android
  • Windows 10 app [12]

Hulu

  • iOS
  • Android
  • Fire Tablets [13]

Amazon Prime Video

  • iOS
  • Android
  • Fire Tablets
  • Windows 10/11 app

Paramount+

  • iOS
  • Android

Peacock

  • iOS
  • Android

Apple TV+

  • iOS
  • MacOS
  • tvOS

Offline downloads are available across iOS and Android for most streamers. Amazon and Netflix also support offline Windows/MacOS. Apple TV+ downloads are limited to Apple devices only. Downloading for planes, road trips, or spotty WiFi makes streaming much more convenient.

User Profiles & Parental Controls

Multi-user profiles are extremely helpful to help organize recommendations and monitor what kids watch. Here is the profile and parental control support on each service:

Netflix

  • Up to 5 user profiles per account
  • Separate profile for kids with PIN controls

Hulu

  • Up to 6 user profiles
  • Kids profiles with content restrictions

Amazon Prime Video

  • Up to 6 user profiles per account
  • Kids profiles with filters for age appropriateness

Paramount+

  • Up to 6 user profiles
  • Kids’ profile locks mature content

Peacock

  • Up to 6 user profiles
  • Separate kids mode with parental controls

Apple TV+

  • Up to 6 user profiles
  • No designated kids mode, just content ratings

Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, and others allow personal profiles so everyone gets tailored suggestions. All offer dedicated kids modes with parental controls, except Apple TV+, which lacks a separate kid interface.

Streaming Tiers

Some services offer different pricing tiers based on features. Here are the plans available from top streamers:

Netflix

  • Basic ($6.99): SD only, 1 stream
  • Standard ($15.49): HD, 2 streams
  • Premium ($19.99): UHD, 4 streams

Hulu

  • With ads ($7.99): HD, 2 streams
  • No ads ($14.99): HD, unlimited streams

Amazon Prime Video

  • Included with Prime ($14.99 monthly or $139 annually)
  • Prime Video alone ($8.99): HD, 3 streams

Paramount+

  • Essential ($4.99): Some ads, HD
  • Premium ($9.99): Fewer ads, 4K & live sports

Peacock

  • Free: With ads, next-day NBC shows
  • Premium ($4.99): More content, some ads
  • Premium Plus ($9.99): All content, no ads

Apple TV+

  • Only one plan ($6.99): 4K HDR, 6 streams

Netflix offers the most flexibility with its pricing tiers for different features. Hulu has two main plans. Apple TV+ has a single, straightforward plan. Weighing video quality, number of simultaneous streams, and presence of ads can help choose the right tier.

Ecosystem Integration

Some streaming services are aligned with broader tech ecosystems for tighter integration:

Netflix

  • Teaming with major brands like Microsoft for co-promotions [14]
  • But not embedded into a distinct hardware ecosystem

Hulu

  • Owned by Disney, bundles available with Disney+/ESPN+
  • Works with Google Assistant

Amazon Prime Video

  • Completely integrated into Amazon and Alexa ecosystem
  • Works seamlessly with Fire TV and tablets

Paramount+

  • Partnerships with major platforms like Apple TV
  • But, not restricted to a single ecosystem

Peacock

  • Available on third-party devices
  • Partnerships with platforms like Google Assistant

Apple TV+

  • Exclusive to Apple ecosystem: iOS, tvOS, MacOS
  • Integrated with Apple services like Apple Music

Prime Video is uniquely ingrained into Fire TV, Alexa world. Apple TV+ is restricted to Apple-only devices. Meanwhile, Netflix, Hulu, and others are platform agnostic. Consider existing devices and services when choosing.

Release Schedules for New Content

For those who look forward to checking out the latest releases, the content drop schedule of each streaming service varies:

Netflix

  • All episodes of Netflix Original series drop at once
  • New licensed movies and shows are added weekly
  • Major releases every month to two months

Hulu

  • Original shows and movies debut weekly
  • New episodes of network series are available the next day
  • Regular additions each month

Amazon Prime Video

  • Most originals launch on a one-episode-per-week model
  • Movies and full seasons of shows are added regularly

Paramount+

  • Original series often debut on a weekly schedule
  • Live sports and news daily
  • New shows and movies monthly

Peacock

  • Originals typically launch complete seasons
  • Live events and news daily
  • Licensed movies and shows weekly

Apple TV+

  • Originals debut full seasons all at once
  • New Apple Originals added monthly

Binge-watchers love Netflix’s full-season drops. But Hulu and Paramount+ offer more of a steady drip of fresh episodes and titles. Check release models to pick the right pacing.

Streaming Service Exclusives

Exclusive and original content can majorly affect choosing a streaming service. Here are some titles you can only find in one place:

Netflix

  • Stranger Things
  • Squid Game
  • The Crown
  • Wednesday

Hulu

  • Only Murders in the Building
  • The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Dopesick

Amazon Prime Video

  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
  • The Boys
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

Paramount+

  • 1883
  • Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
  • Seal Team

Peacock

  • The Office
  • Sunday Night Football
  • Girls5eva

Apple TV+

  • Ted Lasso
  • Severance
  • The Morning Show

From Stranger Things to The Office, buzzy exclusives can make services stand out. Prioritize must-watch exclusives and originals in choosing a platform.

Streaming Service Bundles

To save money, consumers often bundle streaming options together. Here are some popular bundles available:

Netflix

  • Bundle with Microsoft services [15]
  • No major company bundles

Hulu

  • Disney bundle: Hulu, Disney+, ESPN+ for $13.99 [16]

Amazon Prime Video

  • Included with Amazon Prime for $14.99 monthly
  • Amazon Music Unlimited bundle available

Paramount+

  • Discount if bundled with Showtime

Peacock

  • $10 per month bundled with NOW in the UK

Apple TV+

  • Apple One bundles with other Apple services, starting at $16.95 per month [17]

Bundling Hulu with Disney+ and ESPN+ creates a powerhouse streaming trio. Amazon bundles Prime Video into a wider Prime membership. And Apple offers various Apple One media bundles. Look into money-saving streaming bundles that align with your interests.

Streaming Service Limitations

While today’s top streaming platforms offer tons of pros, each also comes with certain limitations:

Netflix

  • No sports, news, or live TV
  • The quality of originals can be uneven
  • Loses some licensed shows to competitors

Hulu

  • A limited selection of movies
  • The original series catalog still growing
  • Add-ons quickly increase costs

Amazon Prime Video

  • Smaller content library outside Prime Originals
  • Confusing what’s included with Prime vs. add-on channels

Paramount+

  • Missing mainstream originals and franchises outside ViacomCBS brands
  • Limited content breadth beyond CBS, Comedy Central, etc.

Peacock

  • Far fewer original series compared to competitors
  • Movie selection lacks variety, and classics

Apple TV+

  • Very limited library with no back catalog
  • Lacks adult animation, unscripted, other genres

Take note of each service’s weaknesses—like Netflix’s lack of live TV or Apple TV+’s miniscule library. Weigh limitations against each platform’s strengths as you choose.

Which Streaming Services Offer Ads?

For commercial-free streaming, ads are a big concern. Here’s the ad situation on the top streamers:

Netflix – Completely ad-free

Hulu – The entry-level plan has ads. No ads on the premium tier.

Amazon Prime Video – 100% ad-free

Paramount+ – The base plan has ads. The premium plan removes most ads.

Peacock – The free tier has ads. Paid Premium Plus removes all ads.

Apple TV+ – Ad-free

Netflix, Prime Video, and Apple TV+ guarantee completely ad-free environments. Hulu, Paramount+, and Peacock offer paid options to go ad-free or minimize ads. Consider your tolerance for interruptions when deciding.

Streaming Service Cancellation Policies

Want to comparison shop? Streaming services make it easy to test options out with flexible cancellation policies:

Netflix

  • Cancel anytime online
  • No cancellation fees

Hulu

  • Easy to cancel online
  • Stop account anytime

Amazon Prime Video

  • Cancel your Prime membership anytime
  • Video continues until membership expires

Paramount+

  • No contracts; cancel anytime
  • Stop auto-renew online

Peacock

  • No cancellation fees
  • Cancel account online

Apple TV+

  • No cancellation fees
  • Auto-renew can be disabled anytime

No long contracts or early termination fees give flexibility. You can freely sign up, test, and cancel services as you compare options. Set alerts to avoid accidental auto-renewals.

Video Quality & Internet Speed Recommendations

To stream smoothly, you’ll need sufficient internet speeds. Here are ideal internet speeds for quality levels:

SD (480p)

  • Minimum speed: 3 Mbps
  • Good speed: 5+ Mbps

HD (1080p)

  • Minimum speed: 5 Mbps
  • Good speed: 10+ Mbps
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4K UHD (2160p)

  • Minimum speed: 25 Mbps
  • Good speed: 50+ Mbps

4K streaming demands fast internet—ideally over 50 Mbps. With HD, shoot for 10 Mbps at least. Lower-quality SD can work with slower connections. Evaluate your internet speeds to pick the right streaming resolution.

Streaming Service Review Roundups

Still undecided? See how experts rank the top streaming platforms:

TechRadar

  1. Netflix
  2. Disney+
  3. Hulu
  4. Amazon Prime Video
  5. HBO Max [18]

Tom’s Guide

  1. Netflix
  2. Disney+
  3. Hulu
  4. Apple TV+
  5. Amazon Prime Video [19]

Wired

  1. Netflix
  2. Disney+
  3. HBO Max
  4. Hulu
  5. Apple TV+ [20]

CNET

  1. Netflix
  2. Disney+
  3. HBO Max
  4. Hulu
  5. Apple TV+ [21]

The experts agree: Netflix still leads for its unmatched originals and vast library. But weigh factors like price, shows you want, and devices you own as you choose the best match.

Now that we’ve thoroughly compared the key streaming platforms let’s dive deeper into some additional streaming topics and trends…

Pros & Cons of Live TV Streaming Services

While the main on-demand platforms get much of the buzz, live TV streaming is also massively popular. Services like YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, and others let you stream live cable channels over the internet. Here are the main advantages—and disadvantages—of these live TV streamers:

Pros

  • Access to live sports, news, and events from channels like ESPN, CNN, TNT, and more
  • Can supplement with on-demand libraries of shows and movies
  • Flexible packages without long contracts
  • Stream on many devices like mobile, web, connected TVs
  • Unlimited DVR storage to record shows

Cons

  • More expensive than on-demand-only services
  • Must pay for many channels you may not watch
  • Missing some niche channels offered on cable
  • Picture quality can suffer compared to cable
  • Subject to regional channel availability
  • Can lose access to channels due to contract disputes

While live TV streaming offers cable-like convenience, keep the higher costs and limitations in mind before cutting the cord completely. Evaluate channel needs carefully.

How Password-Sharing Crackdowns Are Impacting Streamers

Many streaming subscribers bend the rules and share logins beyond their household—a practice platforms increasingly aim to curtail. How are password-sharing crackdowns impacting services?

  • Netflix has tested adding fees for sharing [22]
  • Disney+ also plans paid account sharing features [23]
  • Services cite lost revenue, but moves frustrate some subscribers
  • Password-sharing bans not yet enforced widely
  • Impacts could include subscribers quitting, switching services
  • Some may opt for higher-tier individual plans
  • Could eventually push more toward TV bundles again

While platforms look to tighten control, password sharing remains common. The long-term effects remain to be seen as streamers balance revenue goals with subscriber experience.

How Ad-Supported Plans Are Changing Streaming

To hook cost-conscious viewers, services like Netflix and Disney+ will launch new ad-supported tiers in late 2022. What does this shift mean?

  • Appeals to subscribers who find ad-free plans too expensive
  • Potentially more ads overall as streamers embrace hybrid models
  • Platforms like Netflix represents major strategy shift [24]
  • Advertisers gain huge new streaming inventory to buy
  • More viewing data gathered for ad targeting
  • Risk of oversaturation if too many services have ads
  • Users may feel nickel-and-dimed by ads plus subscription fees

The impact of the streaming ad influx remains unclear. But with careful limits, it could expand access and enable freemium tiers. Ads work for Hulu and Peacock—now we’ll see if other streamers can follow suit.

How Churn Rates Impact Streaming Services

To grow, streaming services can’t just add new subscribers—they must reduce churn by keeping customers long-term. Here’s the churn effect:

  • Netflix had a churn rate of around 3% in early 2022 [25]
  • Disney+ churns around 2-3% monthly in the U.S. [26]
  • Reducing churn by just 1% boosts revenues significantly
  • Churn hits bottom lines but also signals satisfaction
  • Major factors include content, user experience, price
  • Releasing buzzy originals helps reduce churn
  • Loyalty programs and bundles also discourage churn

With fierce competition, churn rates represent a vital metric for platforms. The streamers that best engage and retain subscribers will win.

Why Streaming Services Are Investing in Live Sports

With cord-cutting accelerating, sports rights have become a huge new battleground among streamers:

  • Live sports remain valuable in the streaming era.
  • But auctions drive up rights costs significantly [27]
  • Netflix and Prime Video dipping their toes into live sports.
  • Apple TV+ lands exclusive MLB rights through 2022 [28]
  • Peacock takes over Sunday Night Football
  • Paramount+ gains Champions League, NFL, more
  • Major focus on strategic sports investments

Snagging exclusive sports bolsters platforms against cable and rival streamers. But skyrocketing rights come at steep prices—streaming’s next big bubble waiting to burst?

How Streaming Affects Awards Show Viewership

Award shows like the Oscars have faced precipitous viewership declines in the streaming era. Why the audience exodus?

  • Traditionally vital events for movies and shows
  • Viewership down by 50-60% or more since 2014 [29]
  • Streaming services don’t rely on awards to market titles
  • Less urgency to watch live with reruns and clips online
  • Niche streamers focus on Emmys, Globes over Oscars
  • Declining influence of awards on viewing decisions
  • Questionable relevance amid diversifying entertainment

Once cultural moments, fragmenting audiences now skip award shows—further diminishing their pull while boosting streaming’s rise.

Why Movie Theaters Are Struggling in the Streaming Age

With audiences flocking to home streaming options, movie theaters face growing struggles:

  • 2021 box office plunged by over 70% from pre-pandemic 2019 [30]
  • Theatrical windows shrink to a few weeks before streaming.
  • Some studios simultaneously release films theatrically and online.
  • Harder for theaters to attract viewers without exclusives
  • Many smaller chains bankrupt during COVID-19
  • Rising ticket prices also deter cost-conscious consumers
  • In-home setups mimic theater-quality viewing

Theater owners pressure studios to protect the exclusive theatrical experience. But convenience and choice continue propelling streaming’s threat. The balance of power has undeniably shifted.

How Streaming Impacts Entertainment Award Seasons

With streaming services awards hungry, they’ve stretched traditional awards seasons much longer each year:

  • Awards contenders used to launch mainly late in the year
  • Now, streamers release prestige projects all year [31]
  • Oscar and Emmy campaigns start as early as January
  • Earlier debuts aim to ignite buzz before crowded fall
  • Risk of award contender saturation if too spread out
  • Creates questions about what qualifies for which year
  • Grueling pace for voters to catch up on contenders

The never-ending awards cycle epitomizes streaming’s disruption. But endless lobbying risks awards losing credibility. Will seasons contract again or remain year-round?

Advertising Opportunities With Streaming Content

The streaming ad universe is expanding rapidly. Here are key streaming ad opportunities for brands:

Pre-Roll Video Ads

  • Played before content, like YouTube pre-rolls
  • Netflix aims to run pre-roll promos before originals [32]

Branded Integration

  • Product placement seamlessly woven into content
  • Co-marketing deals like Fortnite in Hawkeye [33]

Sponsorships

  • Presented by integrated branding
  • Ex. Grey Goose sponsoring new Top Gun movie [34]

Interactive Experiences

  • Choose-your-own-adventures
  • Shoppable video

Data-Driven Targeting

  • Target ads using rich viewer data
  • Reach custom audiences like cord-cutters

Ads done right can enhance streaming. Marketers should explore creative integrations that embrace streaming’s strengths.

Major Trends Shaping the Future of Streaming

Where is streaming headed next? A few pivotal trends to watch that will mold the future:

Live Sports Streaming

As broadcast rights shift from linear TV to streaming in the 2020s, major services will battle over valuable sports inventory. The winning platforms could become must-haves for many fans.

Ad-Supported Tiers

Search for services like Netflix and Disney+ to increasingly embrace hybrid models combining ads and subscriptions. With cautious limits, this could expand access and enable freemium tiers.

Consolidation

Stronger services will keep acquiring smaller platforms and absorbing their content libraries while weak ones fade. Excess choice will give way to a handful of dominant streaming giants.

Bundling

Following cable’s lead, expect more discounted streaming bundles that package a few complementing services together as a discounted offering. This appeals to those aiming to reduce monthly costs.

Virtual MVPDs

Major vMVPD platforms like YouTube TV will battle traditional cable & satellite, offering comparable live channel packages delivered fully over the Internet. Their growth stands to accelerate cord cutting.

In a time of massive disruption, these pivotal shifts will shape streaming entertainment in the 2020s and beyond. The future remains unpredictable—but streaming’s revolution shows no signs of slowing down.

Summary

No two platforms are exactly alike when comparing the top six streaming giants—Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+, Peacock, and Apple TV+. Netflix stands apart for its top-notch, original programming and vast catalog. Hulu offers the timeliest network shows and a broad content selection. Amazon Prime Video comes bundled into an Amazon Prime membership packed with perks. Paramount+ leverages ViacomCBS brands like Comedy Central and CBS for loads of content. Peacock focuses on the NBC series, old and new. And Apple TV+ offers prestige originals aligned with Apple’s brand.

Consider your must-have content, preferred devices, live TV needs, number of user profiles needed, and more. Feature-to-feature matchups reveal what sets each streaming option apart. This comprehensive comparison guide matches your viewing habits to the perfect streaming service or services. The streaming arena keeps growing, so flexibly mix and match platforms to build your ideal entertainment bundle.

Sources

[1] https://twitter.com/netflix/status/1476185482361716738

[2] https://www.hulu.com/press/new-hulu-originals-doubled-in-2020/

[3] https://www.paramountplus.com/intl/

[4] https://www.thewrap.com/peacock-one-year-later-review/

[5] https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2020/09/apple-tv-surpasses-over-100-original-productions-ahead-of-apple-tv-launch-on-november-1/

[6] https://help.netflix.com/en/node/49872

[7] https://help.hulu.com/s/article/subtitle-and-closed-caption-support?language=en_US

[8] https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201460880

[9] https://help.paramountplus.com/s/article/PD-Are-there-other-language-options-besides-English-for-Paramount-programming

[10] https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208081

[11] https://www.fastcompany.com/40491939/how-netflixs-recommendation-engine-works

[12] https://help.netflix.com/en/node/54816

[13] https://help.hulu.com/s/article/downloads?language=en_US

[14] https://about.netflix.com/en/news/netflix-and-microsoft-partner-to-bring-you-more-entertainment-options-and-enhanced-experiences

[15] https://www.cnet.com/tech/services-and-software/netflix-microsoft-partnership-what-it-means-for-you-faq/

[16] https://help.disneyplus.com/csp?id=csp_article_content&sys_kb_id=95b201cddba941d03c0cf158bf9619f8

[17] https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2020/09/apple-one-makes-enjoying-apple-subscription-services-easier-than-ever/

[18] https://www.techradar.com/best/best-streaming-sites

[19] https://www.tomsguide.com/us/best-video-streaming-services,review-2272.html

[20] https://www.wired.com/gallery/best-streaming-services/

[21] https://www.cnet.com/tech/home-entertainment/best-live-tv-streaming-service-for-cord-cutters-youtube-tv-sling-tv-hulu-and-more-compared/

[22] https://www.theverge.com/2022/10/17/23410369/netflix-password-sharing-fees-test-dominican-republic-costa-rica-chile

[23] https://www.theverge.com/2022/8/10/23296964/disney-plus-streaming-password-sharing-fees

[24] https://www.npr.org/2022/04/19/1093287724/netflix-ads-streaming-password-sharing-subscriptions

[25] https://www.cnbc.com/2022/04/19/netflix-estimates-100-million-households-share-passwords-which-can-lead-to-churn.html

[26] https://www.fool.com/investing/2021/10/09/why-disney-stock-could-face-churn-problems/

[27] https://www.forbes.com/sites/dbloom/2021/05/25/the-great-streaming-battle-is-here-amazon-apple-lead-the-charge-on-sports-rights/?sh=2b0f1c7c6133

[28] https://www.cnbc.com/2022/03/15/apple-strikes-deal-with-mlb-to-stream-friday-night-baseball-games.html

[29] https://www.forbes.com/sites/scottmendelson/2022/03/28/oscar-ratings-plummet-57-from-2021s-record-low/?sh=4c0c666e4efe

[30] https://variety.com/2022/film/news/2021-box-office-lowest-in-decades-spider-man-no-way-home-1235140562/

[31] https://www.indiewire.com/2019/08/streaming-war-original-content-calendar-1202169491/

[32] https://variety.com/2022/digital/news/netflix-pre-roll-ads-content-1235312470/

[33] https://www.thewrap.com/hawkeye-fortnite-epic-games/

[34] https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/business/digital/top-gun-maverick-grey-goose-1235098496/

5/5 - (13 votes)

Mohamed SAKHRI

I am Mohamed SAKHRI, the creator and editor-in-chief of Tech To Geek, where I've demonstrated my passion for technology through extensive blogging. My expertise spans various operating systems, including Windows, Linux, macOS, and Android, with a focus on providing practical and valuable guides. Additionally, I delve into WordPress-related subjects. You can find more about me on my Linkedin!, Twitter!, Reddit

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