Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu remain the three titans of the streaming world in 2022, although tentatively. Just as in the early days of television, the business of beaming talking pictures into our homes is constantly in flux, with new ideas and new content constantly being tested.
Upstart services are steadily climbing the ranks. Apple TV+ took the first streaming movie Best Picture Oscar with CODA and swept awards shows with its hit series Ted Lasso. Paramount+ has created a buzz with its many Star Trek shows and big franchise movies (and will be sure to receive a big boost when smash hit Top Gun: Maverick lands on its home station). Disney+ has inspired water-cooler discussions with its excellent slate of Marvel and Star Wars shows. And HBO Max has become essential for its A-list movie releases as well as for its massive library of catalogue titles. Even specialty services like Shudder continue to build intriguing libraries of original content.
We think Amazon is the best value in streaming entertainment, with Netflix a close second. But that’s not to say Hulu isn’t worth a subscription; in fact, many people pay for all three services.
How much does Amazon Prime Video cost?
A subscription to Amazon Prime Video only costs $8.99 per month. The service is included in a complete Amazon Prime membership, which also entitles you to free two-day shipping; a limited collection of free music, some free ebooks, and other benefits). Amazon Prime costs $14.99 per month or $139 per year (that breaks down to $11.58 per month). A 30-day free trial is available.
THE BEST VALUE IN STREAMING
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video only: $8.99 per month; full Amazon Prime subscription: $14.99 per month or $139 per year
What are the best original movies on Amazon Prime Video?
The best Amazon Prime Video original movies include Annette, Being the Ricardos, The Big Sick, Blow the Man Down, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Brittany Runs a Marathon, Chi-Raq, Cold War, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot; Emergency, The Handmaiden, Honey Boy, I Am Not Your Negro, Last Flag Flying, The Lost City of Z, Love & Friendship, Manchester by the Sea, Master, One Child Nation, One Night in Miami, Paterson, Selah and the Spades, Sound of Metal, The Tender Bar, The Tomorrow War, Troop Zero, Val, The Vast of Night, The Voyeurs, Wonderstruck, and You Were Never Really Here.
What are the best original TV series on Amazon Prime Video?
The best original TV series available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video include Bosch, The Boys, Carnival Row, Catastrophe, The Expanse, Fleabag, Forever, Goliath, Good Omens, Hanna, Homecoming, Hunters, I Love Dick, Jack Ryan, The Man in the High Castle, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Mozart in the Jungle, One Mississippi, Patriot, Reacher, Red Oaks, Small Axe, Sneaky Pete, Tales from the Loop, The Tick, Transparent, The Underground Railroad, Undone, Upload, The Wheel of Time, etc., as well as various children’s shows, docu-series, stand-up comedy specials, and the upcoming The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
What else is available on Amazon Prime video?
You’ll find a large array of licensed content to stream free via membership (“Included with Prime”), as well as many other movies and shows available for digital rental or purchase.
What’s the Amazon Prime Video smart TV experience like?
Jeffrey M. Anderson
Prime Video’s recently redesigned Smart TV app is cleaner than its web experience (see below), with an easy-to-see menu bar at the top of the screen: “Search,” “Home,” “Free to Me,” “Movies,” “TV Shows,” “Store,” “Channels,” and “My Stuff.” Like Netflix and Hulu, it now starts up with icons for individual viewers. Unlike Netflix and Hulu, promoted content is presented in just a slim strip at the top of the page, taking up maybe 25 percent of the screen.
The “Continue Watching” list is first up, followed by lists of originals, other popular suggestions, and movies from your personal library. Clicking on a movie gives you options to see what other customers also watched, check out the cast and crew, or change the subtitle or audio options. (And the movie does not automatically start playing.) Titles can be added or removed from the Watchlist. On certain titles a pause during play brings up the cast members that are currently in the scene, with an option to go to “X-Ray” for a deeper look. Viewers can also adjust the closed captioning from the movie interface, fast-forward, or rewind. Additionally, some originals are also available in 4K.
What’s the Amazon Prime Video web experience like?
Jeffrey M. Anderson
If you’re accessing Amazon Prime Video from a web browser, click on the little “Prime Video” button on Amazon’s website. You’ll be presented with a screen that offers the latest promotions in the banner, as well as your “Watch Next” list. There’s a handy “Free to Me” button that makes it much easier to find digital movies you own, as well as all the “Included with Prime” content, on one handy page, without being faced with rental fees.
The “Free to Me” page is organized by categories, such as Originals, Movies We Think You’ll Like, IMBD Top Rated Titles, Mystery, etc. The “My stuff” queue—accessible from another button at the top—is also well organized and has separate tabs for TV shows and movies. During playback, you can rewind or skip ahead 10 seconds, view optional subtitles, choose video quality, obtain cast information, and trivia. Amazon originals feature trivia, behind-the-scenes bonuses, spoken audio tracks, and other extras.
What’s the mobile Amazon Prime Video experience like?
With the Prime Video app on your phone or tablet, Prime Originals or “Included with Prime” titles can be downloaded for offline viewing for a limited amount of time. There’s now a “Free to Me” toggle switch that shows only the freebies. Titles are available for 30 days in all, or for 48 hours once viewing has started; users may download up to 15 or 25 titles (depending on location). Purchased titles, are, of course, always available.
The bottom line on Amazon Prime Video
If you like Amazon Prime Video, it’s worth signing up for a full Amazon Prime subscription. Despite a $2-per-month—$20 per-year—price hike in 2022, Amazon Prime still offers arguably the best deal of the three biggest streaming services. The fee includes the fast-and-free shipping, an excellent—and rapidly growing—library of original content, and a surprisingly large selection of other licensed titles, including dozens of obscure classics. Immense, dependable, and smooth, Prime Video is the champion in streaming.
After its most recent price hikes, a basic Netflix subscription costs $9.99 per month, but you won’t get any HD or 4K options, streaming is allowed on just one TV at a time, and you can download videos to only one. Netflix’s Standard plan costs $15.49 per month and includes HD resolution, the ability to stream on two TVs at a time, and you can download video to two devices. A Netflix Premium costs $19.99 per month and includes HD and 4K resolution, you can stream on four TVs at once, and download videos to up to four devices. Netflix no longer offers a 30-day free trial period, but the company still has its old DVD plan, at $9.99 per month for one DVD or Blu-ray disc out at a time, $14.99 for two discs, and $19.99 for three discs out at a time.
What are the best original movies on Netflix?
The best original movies to watch on Netflix include Always Be My Maybe, Apollo 10 1⁄2: A Space Age Childhood, Army of the Dead, Atlantics, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Beasts of No Nation, Bo Burnham: Inside, The Christmas Chronicles 1-2, Da 5 Bloods, Dolemite Is My Name, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, Extraction, Fear Street Trilogy, The 40-Year-Old Version, The Gray Man, Gerald’s Game, The Harder They Fall, Hustle, I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, The Irishman, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, Mank, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Marriage Story, Metal Lords, Mudbound, My Octopus Teacher, Okja, The Old Guard, The Other Side of the Wind, Passing, The Perfection, The Power of the Dog, Private Life, Red Notice, Roma, The Sea Beast, Tallulah, tick, tick… BOOM!, and The Trial of the Chicago 7.
The best original series to stream on Netflix include American Vandal, Big Mouth, BoJack Horseman, Bridgerton, The Crown, Dark, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, Dead to Me, Dear White People, Emily in Paris, GLOW, Godless, Grace and Frankie, The Haunting of Hill House, House of Cards, Locke & Key, Maid, Master of None, Mindhunter, Narcos, The OA, Orange Is the New Black, Ozark, The Queen’s Gambit, Russian Doll, Santa Clarita Diet, The Sandman, Sex Education, Squid Game, Stranger Things, 13 Reasons Why, Trollhunters, The Umbrella Academy, Unbelievable, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, When They See Us, The Witcher, and You. You’ll also find lots of stand-up comedy specials, children’s shows, cooking shows, docu-series, and more.
What else is available on Netflix?
You can stream an array of licensed outside on Netflix; however, it’s extremely slim pickings if you’re looking for classic movies made before 1980. Netflix tends to promote its original content up front, so these other titles are mostly likely to be found via the search feature.
What’s the Netflix smart TV experience like?
Make sure your volume is turned down, because after Netflix loads, it can hit you with a sudden, heart-attack-inducing, “ba-BONG!”—its signature startup sound. Depending on how many profiles you’ve set up, you must select yours (profiles can be adorned with images from dozens of signature Netflix shows and movies, from the Stranger Things kids to the Bridgerton elite). You can also select a “random” movie (“Surprise Me”), which doesn’t seem very useful (my random movie was the new release The Gray Man).
Roughly three-quarters of the home screen is taken up with a promo of whatever is new, and its trailer automatically begins noisily playing. When a chosen title is selected, it brings up a description and a list of menu items on the left (“audio and subtitles,” “add to my list,” etc.). Annoyingly, after about 10 seconds, the movie or show then automatically starts playing, even if you’re just trying to read the description and have yet to decide whether to hit the “play” button. (It then shows up in your “continue watching” list, where it will stay for the foreseeable future.)
Like the web version, there are dozens of titles to look at on the home screen, but they are almost all Netflix originals or popular recent releases. Anything else must be found via the search option. Fortunately, once a movie or show has been selected and has begun, playback is smooth and crisp, with the option to rewind or fast-forward, or adjust the language track or subtitles.
What’s the Netflix web experience like?
Jeffrey M. Anderson
If you’re accessing Netflix from a web browser, clicking on your personal (and personalized) icon will load a large, main-window preview its latest offering—and immediately launch into a noisy trailer. At the top are a range of menus, “Home,” “TV Shows,” “Movies,” “New & Popular,” “My List,” and “Browse by Languages,” with options to search, order DVDs, or manage your profile. (It’s a little more involved to create a kid-friendly interface now.)
The Netflix queue lumps TV shows and movies together and is manageable (and sortable) mainly from the website. On playback, you can rewind or skip ahead ten seconds, turn on optional subtitles and language tracks, adjust playback speed, or access a “help” button (which now appears as a little flag in the upper-right corner).
What’s the mobile Netflix experience like?
With the Netflix app, phone and tablet users can click on handy “new & hot” and “fast laughs” buttons. Users can download up to 100 videos for a limited time for offline viewing. (Only select titles, including all Netflix originals, are available for download.) The time to watch a download depends on each title, but Netflix sends a warning when only seven days remain. Certain titles will expire 48 hours after “play” is pressed.
The bottom line on Netflix
Amazon Prime might be king, but Netflix is the rock star of streaming services; its name has even become a verb for “streaming.” (“Let’s Netflix something tonight.”) The service has amassed a large library of outstanding original films and series, including some flat-out masterpieces, but it has also garnered a reputation for releasing far too much content, impossible to keep up with, and much of it of questionable quality.
Big-budget movies like Red Notice and The Adam Project disappear from the memory soon after viewing (perhaps Netflix hopes for repeat views from users who forgot). And awards-season contenders like The Power of the Dog, Don’t Look Up, and Bubble were polarizing rather than unifying. Additionally, the number of Netflix subscribers seems to fluctuate at an alarming rate, bringing into question how long its business model can be sustained. Perhaps the service should alter its firehose-style plan of spraying out mediocre content, and focus a little more on quality. Regardless, it’s still essential for any serious TV and movie watcher to subscribe; there’s just too much to miss.
How much does Hulu cost?
The price of a Hulu subscription has also increased—and will go up again in October. The basic pricing plan is up to $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year (about $5.83 per month) with ads, or $12.99 per month without ads. (The ads are so frequent and so repetitive you’ll quickly consider upgrading.) If you like Disney+ and/or ESPN+, you can get those services bundled with either of Hulu’s plans for a total cost of $13.99 per month. The October price hike will increase that to $7.99 per month or $79.99 (about $6.66 per month) with ads, while the ad-free service will cost $14.99 per month with no annual option.
the only service with a live Tv option
$6.99 per month ($69.99 per year) with ads; $12.99 per month without ads (prices increase October 2022)
You can subscribe to Hulu in several ways, but be aware that a price hike is coming in October. Today, Hulu with ads costs $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year. Hulu without ads costs $12.99 per month (there is no annual plan available). You can also bundle Hulu (with ads) with Disney+ and ESPN+ for $12.99 per month. Avoiding ads will cost you $19.99 per month for the bundle.
Unlike Amazon or Netflix, Hulu also has a service that includes live television streaming. Hulu + Live TV costs $69.99 per month with ads, or $75.99 without ads. Both plans include subscriptions to Disney+ and ESPN+. Hulu offers a free 30-day trial period, students can get discounts.
What are the best original movies on Hulu?
The best original movies to stream on Hulu include Bad Hair, Big Time Adolescence, Boss Level, Crime + Punishment, Fire Island, Fresh; Good Luck to You, Leo Grande; Happiest Season, Homeroom, I Am Greta, Little Monsters, Minding the Gap, Palm Springs, Plan B, The Princess, Run, Summer of Soul, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, The Valet, etc.
The Act, Animaniacs, Castle Rock, Casual, Catch-22, Devs, Difficult People, Dollface, Dopesick, The Dropout, 11.22.63, Future Man, The Great, The Handmaid’s Tale, Harlots, High Fidelity, Hillary, Into the Dark, Letterkenny, The Looming Tower; Love, Victor; Marvel’s Runaways, The Mindy Project, Mrs. America, Only Murders in the Building, Pam & Tommy, The Path, PEN15, Ramy, Reservation Dogs, Shrill, The Thick of It, Under the Banner of Heaven, Veronica Mars, Wu-Tang: An American Saga, etc.
What else is available on Hulu?
There’s also a large variety of licensed outside content—arguably more TV than movies—available to stream with membership. Hulu and Prime Video tend to double-up on licensed movie titles. If Hulu offers a movie, Prime is likely to offer it as well.
What’s the Hulu smart TV experience like?
Jeffrey M. Anderson
Like Netflix (and now Prime Video), Hulu loads up asking users to choose a profile (but without the fun little icons). Promoted titles now take up about five-sixths of the screen, with your “Keep Watching” items mostly visible below. Scrolling down brings up a seemingly random list of shows and movies. The top menu bar items are the same as on the web.
“My Stuff” offers a submenu to get to TV Shows, Movies or even things that will be expiring soon. In “TV” and “Movies,” viewers can search by genre, with quite an array of categories. Once streaming starts (and the ads are over), the experience is largely smooth and seamless. Viewers can fast-forward or rewind, start the movie over, go to the next “autoplay” movie, adjust the language track or subtitles, look up more recommended titles, or go to “info.” Despite its huge promotional space-hogs, Hulu arguably has the best and most varied menu system.
What’s the Hulu web experience like?
Jeffrey M. Anderson
Nearly the entire Hulu “Home” screen promotes titles. Scrolling down brings up your recently watched shows (“Keep Watching”). Clicking on the “Keep Watching” link in the menu above brings you to more detailed page, keeping track of all your watched shows, and letting you know how many episodes are left in each series.
Other menu items are “TV,” “Movies,” “News,” “My Stuff,” and “Hubs,” and then a search window and account settings. “My Stuff” is, of course, your queue, with TV shows on top and movies below. “Hubs” brings you to a page that lets you narrow down what you’re looking for, including various collections (celebrating diversity), kids’ content, and programs with audio descriptions.
Once streaming starts (and the ads are over), the experience is largely smooth and seamless. Users can rewind or skip ahead 10 seconds, and there are optional subtitles and language tracks on selected movies, as well as an option to turn “autoplay” on or off.
What’s the mobile Hulu experience like?
Hulu’s mobile and tablet app basically offers the streaming capabilities of its web and smart TV-based services. Only subscribers who pay extra for the ad-free service download content to a mobile device.
The bottom line on Hulu:
Hulu maintains a solid third place in the streaming wars. Its strength is still TV, with titles like The Handmaid’s Tale and Only Murders in the Building leading the field. Unlike Netflix and Prime, which allows users to binge-watch an entire season all at once, Hulu drops single episodes at a time, which—ostensibly—keeps viewers coming back for more. The service’s original movie selection is slowly turning into a decent library of varied content, with a handful of highly recommended titles. Losing NBC hasn’t seemed to affect Hulu’s standing much, as they now have enough original content, plus FX, Searchlight, and 20th Century Fox, to keep the service interesting.
Jeffrey has been a working film critic for more than 14 years. He first fell in love with the movies at age six while watching "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" and served as staff critic for the San Francisco Examiner from 2000 through 2003.