Netflix was one of the first major streaming services on the market, and it continues to dominate. With over 420+ original films and a large selection of 4K content, it has the best movie library for most people. You can watch Netflix on nearly any device and download shows for offline viewing. Plus, each person in your household can create their own profile, including a kid-orientated option for parent controls. Overall, Netflix is a strong edition to any entertainment setup.
Netflix vs. Other Streaming Services
How We Evaluated Netflix
We’ve done tons of research and comparison on Netflix when reviewing the best TV streaming services, and the best movie streaming services. Due to the increase of standalone streaming services (NBC, WarnerMedia, Disney), we put an extra emphasis on original content in our evaluation — being able to count on high-quality original content is essential for the future of streaming. So we took a close look at both audience and critic reception by comparing IMDb ratings and Rotten Tomatoes scores. We also tallied up all the awards won by original content on streaming services.
Usability, compatibility, and value were all taken into consideration as well. You can read more about our methodology and logic behind the review.
Large library of original and award-winning content
You’ll never run out of things to watch with Netflix’s massive catalog of movies and shows — especially with new original content being added on a monthly basis. As individual networks continue to pull licensed shows into their own streaming service, original content is increasingly important for maintaining value. Netflix smashes the competition when it comes to investing in original content. According to Variety, Netflix spent $12.04 billion on content in 2018. Quartz calculated that about 90,000 minutes of original content was released on Netflix last year.
Netflix’s rate of release hasn’t affected the quality of its content. Shows like “Stanger Things,” “Queer Eye,” and “Black Mirror” dominate pop culture conversation. At the 2018 Emmy awards, Netflix was the first network (in 17 years) to beat out HBO in nominations. Regardless of your interests — horror, romantic comedy, sci-fi, drama, action — there is plenty of exclusive and high-quality content to binge on Netflix.
The most 4K content
For anyone who owns a 4K TV, Netflix is your best bet for streaming 4K shows and movies. Netflix currently hosts around 600 “Ultra HD 4K” titles — nearly eight times more than its closest competition. If you don’t own a 4K TV already, there’s a fair chance you will in the near future — the digital world is advancing, with 4K devices becoming less expensive, and early adopters already talking about 8K. Netflix’s dedication to keeping up with technology is a huge perk for consumers and an encouraging indicator that Netflix is here to stay.
Impressive compatibility and usability
Because Netflix is purely a streaming service, it’s universally compatible. Other services, like Playstation Vue or Youtube TV aren’t available on devices considered direct competition. For example, you can’t watch Playstation Vue on your Xbox, and Youtube TV (a Google brand) isn’t available via an Amazon Fire TV stick.
When testing, we had no trouble navigating Netflix’s interface. It offers separate profiles for each family member — including a parent-controlled “kids” setting that curates the content for young viewers. You can also download many of Netflix’s shows for offline viewing.
Generous 30-day free trial
You’ll have an entire month to try out Netflix’s services yourself. Some other services only grant a week before you have to either cancel or cash in. 30 days should be plenty of time to determine whether Netflix can fulfill your entertainment needs. And if it doesn’t, you can cancel anytime.
When compared to other streaming services like Amazon Prime Video or Hulu, you might find Netflix’s prices a bit steep. Though its “Basic” plan is only $9 per month, it’s strictly SD streaming. Television shows haven’t aired in SD since 2014 — and you’d be hard-pressed to find a new SD TV these days. For a few more dollars, you can upgrade to HD and allow two screens to simultaneously stream. If you’ve cut the cord in your home and live with quite a few streamers, you may need the “Premium” plan. It’s important you keep this feature in mind when sharing your passwords with other people who don’t live with you — it’d be a real bummer if you couldn’t watch “Bird Box” on a Friday night because your sister’s boyfriend was rewatching “Arrested Development” in his dorm room.
Netflix is starting to lose some of its most-watched content. When Netflix’s contract for “The Office” ends in 2020, the show will be moving to NCCUniversal’s upcoming streaming service. Similarly “Friends” will go to WarnerMedia’s new HBO Max streaming service in early 2020. According to Vox, “The Office” and “Friends” are Netflix’s two most-viewed shows by a large margin. Netflix currently hosts a large percentage of licensed content, and if other networks continue to launch their own services we may see many favorites leave Netflix.
No live TV
Netflix isn’t suited to true cord-cutters who may be looking for a way to still catch a few popular cable channels. You won’t find many network shows or recently aired specials. There’s no way to watch TV live or even the day-after — like Hulu. There are plenty of other streaming services available to you if you’re looking for live viewing.
The Bottom Line
The best streaming service for you will depend on your entertainment preferences. Netflix does a good job of catering to a wide variety of tastes, and we’d recommend at least utilizing the free trial. With over 6,500 titles, the service is bound to keep you busy. To compare a full suite of streaming options, check out our full reviews of the best TV streaming services and movie streaming services.