UPDATE: Streaming Services: Ranked
I'm an avid TV watcher and studying in a media program at my university, so I consume ALOT of cultural content. The golden age of streaming is coming to a close because of intra-capitalist competition. For a long time, Netflix was the main platform to watch almost all of the movies and TV you could want, but the emergence of new services threaten this, diversifying the market, causing us to subscribe to more platforms to have a wide array of content we desire. Despite the diversification, platforms gave a tendency to monopolize, so it won't be long until one reigns supreme over the rest, so today, I'm breaking down 5 streaming services, their pros and cons, as well as my top TV and film picks on each platform.
In 2010 this company diverged from online DVD rental services to online streaming and changed the game. As of December 2020, Netflix had over 203 million paid subscriptions worldwide (Statista). This platform hosts both Netflix originals as well as licensed content from traditional television. As of 2021, Netflix has 15,000 titles.
The Netflix platform is seamless, it's my favourite place to watch TV and movies. The endless scroll of titles is easy to browse, and their search bar is highly intelligent, you can just search a feeling or a vibe and be taken to hundreds of titles that match that, even if they don’t have the show you are looking for, they will provide you with something similar. Going from episode to episode and season to season is simple, and when you're done, it will begin playing something similar or something tailored to your preferences. Also, this year Netflix has introduced a speed option to change your viewing speed at the click of a button. Netflix also hosts a range of Netflix originals, which range from high-budget films to binge-able TV series, all at a relatively high caliber. I think where they excel most is in their TV dramas and true crime series. Their range of content is quite broad, hosting documentaries, comedy specials, films, sitcoms, TV dramas, and concert films.
Some shows are not updated weekly, so you'll often have to wait months until a season is complete before it shows up in your Netflix feed. Selection is also inconsistent between countries.
My Top Netflix Picks
Haunting of Hill House (Netflix Original)
Orange is the New Black (Netflix Original) Wentworth
Black Mirror (Netflix Produced)
How To Get Away With Murder
Grand Army (Netflix Original)
Tiny Pretty Things (Netflix Original)
Dare Me (Netflix Original)
Don't Fuck With Cats (Netflix Original)
American Murder: The Family Next Door
Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé (Netflix Original)
Fyre (Netflix Original)
2. Amazon Prime Video
In December 2016, Amazon Prime video launched worldwide. They have both Prime originals as well as licensed content. Prime has 96.5 Million subscribers worldwide. Prime has few originals but it is mostly focused on (outdated) licensed content. Amazon has 18405 movies and 1981 TV shows.
$8.99/mo to access Amazon Prime Video alone, or you can sign up for Amazon Prime, which costs $12.99 a month or $119 a year and you get all of the benefits of a prime membership including free one-day shipping and Amazon Music.
The X-Ray tab allows you to see all of the actors' profiles on the side of the screen depending on who is in the frame at that particular moment- no more " wait… what is she from???". Switching from episode to episode is quite seamless. Prime originals are very high quality and probably the best thing about this platform. Their original shows feature many thrillers and mini-series that are quite impressive and have me craving more. Prime hosts the best selection of original series in my opinion. They are at the highest quality and host the greatest creativity, focusing in on sci-fi and thrillers.
The platform is atrocious. The shows are separated season by season, and when listed in the search bar or queue, they aren't even chronologically placed. They often only have a few seasons of each show, which is entirely disappointing, because you wont realize until you get to the end of a season and realize there is nothing left (this also is a fault in their platform design). Their suggestions aren’t very comprehensive and often will just show you the same things over and over, it is much harder to discover new shows or films. Another issue is the price restrictions on much of their content, and there is rarely any separation between what you have included in a basic subscription versus what you have to pay extra for.
My Top Prime Video Picks:
The Simple Life
The Purge (Prime Original)
The Wilds (Prime Original)
Utopia (Prime Original)
American Horror Story
Tell me Your Secrets (Prime Original)
Flack (Prime Original)
The Lie (Prime Original)
The Boys (Prime Original)
Little Fires Everywhere (Prime Exclusive)
Savage X Fenty Fashion Show (Prime Original)
I Care Alot (Prime Original)
Now You See Me
The Bling Ring
Crave is a Canadian service that you can log into either with a subscription or with your TV provider beginning its video-on-demand service in November 2018. There are 2.3 Million Crave subscribers. Crave does not prioritize originals, but instead leans on its ties with HBO as its main force. As of May 2019, Crave has 1156 TV shows and 208 Movies.
Basic Crave is $9.99 per month or $99.90 per year. An upgrade to new HBO programs is another $9.99 and Starz for $5.99 per month. It is also available with your Canadian TV provider.
The content quality is very high and browsing does not overwhelm you with trailers playing the second you log on. The HBO content is probably the highest quality of television in circulation right now, and being the major host of it, Crave succeeds in this aspect.
The site is difficult to navigate and often forgets where you left off. Many options you have to pay extra for, even though they show up in your queue (HBO is a MUST add on). The search bar is difficult to use because everything needs to be spelled correctly and exact (you can't even turn out results for "TV drama"). Something I noticed recently is that some shows are only available in one language, for example, an American reality show: Making A Model with Yolanda Hadid is only available dubbed in Spanish with no subtitles in the original language in which it was produced. Without the HBO add on, in my opinion, Crave is not worth it.
My Top Crave Picks:
The Handmaid's Tale
Big Little Lies
Allen v. Farrow
Framing Britney Spears
Birds of Prey
4. Disney +
On November 12th 2019, Disney+ launched. The service surpassed 10 million subscribers in its first day. Disney owns basically everything (check out this infographic) so there is a large selection of shows and movies, and it is predicted to add more titles as its licensing runs out with other streaming services. In February, they added Star to their selection which added over 150 shows and 500 movies to their collection.
Tons of content that we are familiar with that brings us ALL of the nostalgia. The layout is very similar to Netflix, and fairly easy to navigate with subsection buttons for Disney, Pixar, Marvel, National Geographic, Star Wars, and now Star. Recently, they added the stars tab which has raised its score much higher, specifically because it now includes some of my all-time favourite films such as Jennifer’s Body and The Devil Wears Prada. They also include some very interesting docuseries about the behind-the-scenes of the wonderful world of Disney, from behind-the-scenes of the parks, to how they make the animations for film, and the design of props for the screen.
They will only have content that Disney owns, and it will likely exclude a lot of the gritty movies and TV it holds ownership over- so unfortunately for me I won't be able to binge all of American Horror Story anytime soon. It's mostly a platform for children, excluding a lot of the Disney-owned adult titles. They also are missing a "continue watching" or "recently viewed" tab. Their site, compared to Netflix and Prime, takes a long time to load, every time i try to watch a movie, my computer nearly overheats from just the Disney+ tab and the controls are not nearly as seamless as other sites, hitting the spacebar to pause may cause u to jump forward or back. After watching a movie there is no option to go back to the home page, you can only see details of the next suggested film. Moving from episode to episode is often quite laggy and the navigation on all of the Disney+ pages is atrocious. When just scrolling through a selection tab, it sometimes causes your screen to jump all over the place. Also, often, the subtitles are quite laggy, making it difficult to follow along with the film if they are necessary for your watching.
My Top Disney+ Picks:
Wizards of Waverly Place
Wandavision (Disney+ Original)
The Disney Channel Games
Halloweentown (all of them)
High School Musical (yes, all of them)
The Devil Wears Prada
I Love You Beth Cooper
Black is King (Disney+ Original)
5. Apple TV +
This service premiered on November 1st 2019. It is estimated to have 40 million subscribers by the end of 2020 (statista). Its focus is on brand new generated content such as The Morning Show, but also features licensed content. There are currently only 13 shows and movies on Apple TV+, but you have the ability to pay for any titles available on the iTunes store.
High-budget, star-studded cast creations. The App integrates seamlessly with Apple products.
The platform is only available through the app on Apple devices. App navigation is horrible, there is no differentiation between the included titles and the ones you pay extra for through iTunes. Very little selection, and a disappointing launch with the majority of the app being paid. Finally, a con that may just be specific to me, is that since it cannot be accessed through the browser, there are no speed options.
My Top Apple TV+ Picks:
The Morning Show (Apple TV + Original)
The World’s a Little Blurry (Apple TV + Original)
xo Alysha Autumn