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Netflix or Hulu? Find out which streaming service is right for you

Netflix is one of many streaming options — the only question is, what services are worth the cost?  – Photo by

When Netflix started the streaming service craze and essentially put an end to cable TV, everything was great.

It only cost a few dollars a month for unlimited access to every show and movie you could think of, and it was all on one single platform. You could cancel your cable subscription, say goodbye to commercials and say hello to the power of choice. It was awesome to have one platform for all of your needs.

But now, there are a million streaming services available that all have different specialties, and it feels like we took a step back into the world of cable TV. It’s a little counterintuitive, if you ask me.

Nonetheless, each streaming service does have something unique to offer. But with so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to navigate which ones are actually worth your money.

Depending on what you’re looking for in your ideal streaming service, check out this list of each platform based on their highs and lows:

Best original content — Netflix

Up until recently, Netflix was the sole contender for top streaming service. They’re still probably the top choice comprehensively, but there are some things that have turned viewers off recently, such as the discontinuation of beloved shows and how quickly viewers' faves cycle in and out of the platform. 

The place where Netflix really stands out is in its original content. Netflix Originals give subscribers iconic shows like "Squid Game" and "You," excellent movies like "I Care a Lot" and interesting documentaries like "Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened." Netflix's original content quickly goes viral and is consistently one of the biggest contributors to pop culture trends.

If you’re looking to subscribe to Netflix to stay on top of entertainment trends and original content, it offers basic, standard and premium packages for $8.99, $13.99 and $17.99 a month, respectively.

In my opinion, Netflix is totally worth it and is one of the most valuable streaming services to have either in your rotation or even as your sole provider.

Best movies — Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video, in my opinion, is severely underrated. I used to sleep on this service, too, until I recently discovered that it has some of the best offerings for movies across the board.

College students have access to Amazon Prime for $6.49 a month with free access to Prime Video, or, if you want to skip the shopping and just stream, Prime Video costs $8.99 a month. Yes, you’re putting more money into Jeff Bezos' pockets, but if you can move past that moral dilemma, I definitely recommend it.

Prime Video gives you access to more than 24,000 movies with an amazing variety of options, both old and brand new. Its list of shows isn't beating out those of other services, but if you’re a movie buff, you should absolutely consider trying it out.

Best shows and convenience — Hulu

If you have a Spotify Premium account for students, you already have access to Hulu for free (if you didn’t already know this, you’re welcome).

This offering comes with ads, but it’s free — so who cares? If you don’t have Spotify, Hulu with ads is $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year, and Hulu without ads is $12.99 a month. It also offers other subscriptions options, like Hulu + Live TV, which gives you access to a heap of cable TV channels. This way you can cut down on your bills, and have cable and streaming in one place, which is pretty cool.

Despite having ads for the cheapest membership, Hulu is a standout when it comes to its offerings for shows. It has an amazing variety of old shows, like "Drake & Josh," "One Tree Hill" and "Dance Moms."

Another plus is that it offers shows that are currently on TV in their seasons, and you can watch each episode on Hulu right after it premieres on TV. For example, if you’re a "Grey’s Anatomy" fan, you can keep up with the new season each week instead of waiting months for it to land on Netflix. If you’re a serial TV binger, Hulu might be the best option for you.

Best for families and nostalgia — Disney+

I think it goes without saying that Disney+ is a must-have for anyone college-aged. For $7.99 a month or $79.99 a year, you have unlimited access to all of the Disney content you know and love, like Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic.

It’s a great streaming service for your family movie nights, a nostalgic night with your friends or to finally watch all of the Marvel movies in order (which I know you’ve been procrastinating). Disney+ exclusive content like "Loki" and "The Mandalorian" are incredible and make this subscription worth it by themselves.

Also, because of Disney’s power, it has taken all of its movies down from other services, like Netflix. So if you’re looking to watch "High School Musical 2," you have no choice but to subscribe.

Best variety — HBO Max

Despite a confusing interface that makes you think the creators of HBO Max don’t actually want you to use the platform, this streaming service has the best variety of content overall.

Starting at $9.99 a month, subscribers have access to HBO’s catalog of old and new content including all of their sub-platforms, including Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Cartoon Network, DC and more. 

Some of HBO's original shows, like "Succession," have taken the world by storm, and HBO has been successful in poaching older content from other streaming services and networks — such as NBC's classic "Friends," which was taken off of Netflix in preparation for the launch of HBO Max in 2020.

In my opinion, the access to a wide range of both popular and niche content makes this subscription worth the extra minute you might have to spend actually looking for your favorite show on the site.

Best niche — Shudder

If you’re into horror movies, subscribe to Shudder now. Plans start at only $4.75 a month, and you have access to a hand-picked, high-reviewed library of the best horror films you can stream.

What’s great about Shudder is that it’s organized by subgenres, so it's easier to navigate through its catalog and find the exact type of horror movie you’re looking for. It also offers a wide variety of international films.

Shudder is without a doubt a must-subscribe if you’re a horror movie connoisseur.  

Honorable (but average) mention — Apple TV+

Apple TV+ is free with the Apple Music student plan, $4.99 a month for a subscription or free for 3 months with the purchase of another Apple product.

The content and variety of options are pretty average, but its original content is pretty highly rated, and you can’t beat the price. Unless you already pay for Apple Music, it’s not that worth it and you’re better off subscribing elsewhere. 

No matter what kind of content you’re looking for, there’s a streaming service out there for you. You may have to slide through all of the free trials before you settle on your top choice (or choices), but on a college budget, that means you get to stream for free for a few days as you browse through their offerings … so you might as well give them all a try.

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