Which stream(ing service) deserves your green?
Cable is dying, internet speeds are a hot topic for all and sharing your Wi-Fi password is a public symbol for who you actually love. With the massive success of Netflix, many streaming services have sprung up in order to capitalize on the growing market. With content owners like Disney, DC Comics and network television studios taking their shows off of Netflix and putting them onto their own subscription-based services, confusion regarding who has what can leave even the most up-to-date college student disoriented. My hope is to take the most popular video and music streaming services and review them to make the decision of which to buy into a little easier.
The king of binging goes first. When it began, Netflix was represented by that envelope you got in the mail and the catalyst of the decline of Blockbuster. Their volume of content meant that there was something for everyone, but recently they have used their billions to fund original content. With prices ranging from $8-$14 for streaming plans, there are options for even the most cash-strapped student. From award-winning original content to thousands of seasons of every type of television show to movies and documentaries, Netflix still has something for everyone.
There once was a time when Hulu was free. Now, there are way too many options to choose from. The most basic plan costs $8. No commercials costs an extra $4. Hulu also offers a live TV option for $40 with DVR and unlimited screens costing an extra $15 each, or both for $20. That’s a lot of money. Even with the option for live TV and the ability to stream network shows next day, Hulu still makes you sit through commercials. They have also begun to produce their own content, with “The Handmaid’s Tale” winning eight Emmy Awards. Hulu is owned by several networks, which means they will continue to have access to their content over all other services.
Amazon Prime Video
This is an interesting one. Amazon Prime Video is included with an Amazon Prime subscription, which is $99 a year, making it very competitive pricing-wise. While their library lacks in comparison to Netflix and Hulu, they have the advantage of adding different channels to a base package. HBO, Showtime and Cinemax are just some of the available options which range in price from an extra $3 per month for Cheddar to $15 for HBO. Being able to watch “Game of Thrones” and “Westworld” live is definitely a luxury that makes Amazon more appealing. Being able to expand their library with additional channels means Amazon Prime Video has the potential to serve as a central hub to centralize all your content under one roof.
A lot of people have iPhones. A lot of people who have iPhones also use their phones as primary music players, so Apple Music has a large built-in market as the native music app on their phones, as it makes adding a subscription very easy. With 30 million songs available to stream and the ability to personalize your music collection, Apple Music lets customers free up that sweet, sweet space. For an individual account, it costs $10 a month, and a family plan (six people) is $15 a month. Although it does not have a web player, Apple Music is an easy choice for those already embedded in the Apple technological ecosystem.
Google Play Music
Google’s entry on this list contains a lot of similarities to Apple Music. Both have the same pricing structure, allow uploads of personal music and have a comparable amount of songs in their library (35 million plus versus 30 million plus). Where Google Play Music distinguishes itself is web player and the inclusion of YouTube Red. What is YouTube Red? It’s the service that allows you to avoid commercials on YouTube videos and to view original content on their platform. You can also download songs for offline listening, increasing versatility. Speaking of downloading, a YouTube Red subscription allows you to download videos to watch later.
Spotify is the last entry, but certainly not the least. With a catalogue of over 30 million songs and identical pricing structure with the other two services, there is even more reason to stand out to make its platform more appealing than competitors. Spotify offers a free version with commercials and the ability to be more selective about your song order with a queue feature. But for college students, there is the fantastic 50 percent discount alongside their partnership with Hulu to offer both services for $13 a month. Spotify cannot compete with the capital of Google and Apple, two of the most valuable companies in the world, so their partnerships and deep discounts do wonders to appeal to the young professional/college student crowds.
Netflix & Amazon Prime Video and Google Play Music
While the decision was very close, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Google Play Music emerge as the winners in this review. Netflix has the advantage of impressive original content and a track record for multiple quality original series. Amazon Prime Video punched its way to the winner circle by its ability to save money on shipping, which adds up to more than $99 very easily for how much online shopping the average person—not to mention college students—does. Google Play Music edged out the competitors by virtue of their addition of YouTube Red. YouTube is one of the most popular websites in the world, and being able to not see commercials and have access to another paid service automatically is hard to beat.