Which Streaming Service Is The Best Bang For Your Buck?

Sabienna Bowman

Read Time 5 minutes

“Ted” from Universal Pictures

There are more streaming options than ever before, but it remains to be seen if that’s good news for consumers or not. In this world of seemingly endless entertainment options, the general consensus seems to be that Netflix is still the best one-stop shop for movies and TV shows.

But is it really? Reelgood ran the numbers on the five major streaming services — Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, HBO, and Showtime — to find out which streaming service is the best bang for your buck. The answer to that question might just surprise you.

First, we started with a simple cost comparison of all five streaming services:

Looking at the numbers, HBO is the most expensive at $14.99 a month, but when you’re the exclusive rights holder of Game of Thrones in the United States, you can charge whatever you want. Meanwhile, Prime Video is the least expensive at $8.25.

Cost isn’t everything though. The real deciding factor should be the amount of content that the subscription fee buys you, as well as the quality of that content. Overall, we found that Prime Video’s movie catalog far surpasses all of the others with a whopping 10,731 movies currently streaming on the site.

Comparatively, Netflix currently has 3,857 films in their library (continuing a downward trend that’s been occurring at least since 2016).

Netflix with 3857, Prime with 10731, Hulu with 1532, HBO with 919, and Showtime with 426

Netflix isn’t leading the way with TV shows either. As of September 2018, Netflix’s library included 1,301 series, but Hulu is the leader in terms of quantity with a catalog of 1,784 shows. That means, according to the numbers, Prime Video has the most movies, and Hulu has the most shows. Still, quantity trumps quality. Having endless choices of movies and shows that you don’t want to watch is worse than having no choices at all. So, the question becomes, how much of what’s available is quality content?

Netflix with 1301, Prime with 1515, Hulu with 1784, HBO with 169, and Showtime with 62

Everyone has their own tastes, but for our purposes, we defined a “quality” movie or show as being in the top 20,000 most popular titles on streaming service aggregator Reelgood, as well as having IMDb scores of 6.0 for movies and 6.5 for shows with a minimum of 300 votes. Results show Prime Video has the most quality movies, while Hulu has the most quality shows.

Netflix with 1049, Prime with 1096, Hulu with 475, HBO with 324, and Showtime with 165
Netflix with 495, Prime with 337, Hulu with 749, HBO with 77, and Showtime with 34

Thanks to IMDb, we can further take the analysis to another level by looking for the streaming site with the absolute highest quality shows and movies that viewers will want to watch. We defined high quality using the same criteria, but this time the IMDb scores for movies had to be 7.5 or higher, and 8.0 or higher for shows.

Narrowing the field down in terms of high-quality movies led to Netflix and Prime Video being tied for first place with 105 high-quality films each.

Netflix with 105, Prime with 105, Hulu with 51, HBO with 44, and Showtime with 26

Meanwhile, Hulu continues to dominate in the field of TV with 167 shows deemed high quality, with Netflix coming in next in line with 158 quality titles. Seeing Netflix serve up such a high number suggests their increased original content strategy might be paying off after all.

Netflix with 158, Prime with 96, Hulu with 167, HBO with 34, and Showtime with 14

So, dollar for dollar, which service is the best bang for your buck? We looked at the total number of movies or shows you get for each dollar spent on each of these subscriptions to find out. Based on that data, Prime is way ahead of the game with 1301 movies per dollar.

Netflix with 351, Prime with 1301, Hulu with 128, HBO with 61, and Showtime with 39

On the other hand, with 162 titles, Hulu is in the lead when it comes to the number of shows you get per dollar.

Netflix with 109, Prime with 101, Hulu with 162, HBO with 20, and Showtime with 6

But if you filter the content down to high-quality movies, Netflix is still the best bargain for film fans. For every dollar of your subscription price, you’re getting 13 highly rated films. Compared to Showtime, which only gives you two high-quality films per each dollar you spend, that’s a wide gap in value.

Netflix with 13, Prime with 10, Hulu with 4, HBO with 3, and Showtime with 2

As for high-quality shows, the data shows that TV fans are best served by Hulu and Netflix. With both services, you get 14 high-quality series for each dollar of your subscription.

Netflix with 14, Prime with 12, Hulu with 14, HBO with 2, and Showtime with 1

To break the tie, we looked at how the services would fare when compared by all the quality shows you get per dollar spent. As it turns out, Hulu is by far the best bet for shows, with subscribers getting 62 well-received series for each dollar they pay.

Netflix with 45, Prime with 41, Hulu with 62, HBO with 5, and Showtime with 3
Netflix with 95, Prime with 133, Hulu with 40, HBO with 22, and Showtime with 15

Ultimately, every viewer is unique, and you have to make subscription decisions based on what you’ll actually watch. If you’re looking for data-based results, then Hulu and Netflix are the best bargains in the streaming world when it comes to top-notch series and films. However, if it’s quantity you crave, then Prime Video’s vast library and low cost can’t be beaten.

  1. But what about the fact that Amazon Prime’s catalog mysteriously charges rental fees for some programming and not others? It’s a crap shoot any time I go looking for something to watch. At the end of the search I’m frustrated to find I have to pay yet more to watch something.

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