If you just cut the cord and are looking to keep TV costs low, you might not have the luxury of picking any streaming service you want.
Luckily for you, the ubiquity of streaming apps gives you a wide range of choices. While there are tons to choose from, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and HBO Max are the most popular and offer the best content.
In the grand scheme of things, all three are relatively similar, but knowing the differences can help you choose which service is best for you.
What Makes Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and HBO Similar?
On the surface, all three are basic streaming platforms meaning you get access to thousands of hours of content anywhere you have an internet connection. Some content is restricted by device, but for the most part, you can stream all three on your computer, phone, TV, etc.
Netflix is still entirely ad-free (but they’re testing ads), while Hulu and Amazon Prime have ad-free subscription options for a slightly higher rate. HBO is ad-free as well, but the pricing is a bit more complicated than its competitors.
For families, all four allow you to censor mature content that you don’t want your kids stumbling upon and allow multiple users to stream at once.
Finding The Right Service
After a one month free trial, a basic Netflix subscription will cost you $8.99 per month and allows you to watch on one screen at a time. For $13 a month, you can stream on two screens and watch in HD, and $16 a month gets you four screens and Ultra HD.
There are no limitations on content though, as every option gives you access to everything Netflix has to offer. Netflix prides itself on its original content which you can’t get anywhere else, which is a major perk.
Netflix is relatively expensive though and doesn’t give you access to live shows until months after they air. For instance, you can watch all five seasons of Breaking Bad whenever you want since it ended in 2013, but if you want to watch the newest season of The Good Place, you’ll have to wait until a year after it ends.
Some T-Mobile plans also include a Netflix subscription as well.
Hulu gives you your first month free, then costs either $5.99 or $11.99 per month. Paying the higher price gets you an ad-free streaming experience.
Unlike Netflix, Hulu gives you access to currently running TV shows the day after new episodes air. If you’re nervous about spoilers, Hulu has you covered.
Hulu has a comparatively small library of shows and movies though, meaning you might not be able to watch everything you want.
Amazon Prime Video
Just like the others, Amazon offers a 30-day free trial to first time users. If you’re already an Amazon Prime member, you get access to the streaming platform at no additional cost. Otherwise, Prime Video will cost $8.99 per month.
The Prime Video site can be a little confusing since it also allows you to rent or buy movies you don’t have through your subscription. There is still a lot of content that comes for free, but some movies and shows cost extra.
Prime Video does have a cool X-Ray feature that gives you access to actor bios, trivia, and other info while you watch.
Although it’s the newest entry into the streaming wars, HBO Max is the offshoot of the long-existing HBO GO. Max includes all the HBO original content you can imagine, plus about the same amount of hours of other content. HBO spent millions for the rights to stream blockbuster shows and movies like Harry Potter and Friends.
For first time HBO customers, Max is $14.99 monthly after a seven-day trial. If you’re already an HBO customer, however, it’s not so cut and dry. Depending on your cable provider, you may or may not get immediate access to HBO Max for free. And even if you do, some providers only offer free Max access for a few months.
HBO also intends to add a cheaper option with commercials, so generally pricing is still a bit up in the air.
Netflix vs Hulu vs Amazon Prime vs HBO
Each service has its pros and cons, so your choice should come down to what makes the most sense for you.
To save a little money and get access to shows as they air, then Hulu is a great choice, but for a better selection, you can go with Netflix. Prime Video makes the most sense for existing Prime Members, but it has perks for serious movie buffs. HBO has arguably the widest and best library, but there are still some tweaks to be worked out as the service gets established.