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ByDanika Miller Internet & Entertainment Writer

Danika is currently covering the internet and entertainment beat. Her previous work lives in random corners of the internet and fiction anthologies hidden in university libraries.

How We Found the Best Movie Streaming Services

Discovering the best movie streaming service is a pretty subjective task. There are a lot of personal factors and preferences that influence the kind of content you value most. Some viewers may prefer comedy specials to documentaries, others may prefer classic films to indie breakouts. So we sought out industry experts, set universal metrics for quality, tested for ease of use, and considered value.

We Cataloged Collections and Compared their Quality

We took the most popular movie streaming services and cataloged their entire film collections, with a focus on original and exclusive content. As networks continue to end contracts on their licensed shows and films, original content becomes increasingly important for streaming services. The best service will offer unique and high-quality content that makes a subscription worth your money. To discover which service fulfilled this metric, we cataloged their original content, awards, IMDb ratings, and Rotten Tomatoes scores. HBO, for example, impressed us with high scores on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, while also maintaining a high number of original movies (334). Though Netflix has an equally robust original catalog, its quality scores were the lowest, and Hulu’s high ratings are a bit dimmed by the fact that it only hosts eight original films.

“Consumers are looking for two things: high-quality, must-see content and value. A service needs to offer a mixture of both to do well, especially in an increasingly crowded market.”

  Netflix HBO Amazon Prime Hulu Sundance Now
Number of original movies 424 334 42 8 141
IMDb Average 6.7 7.1 6.8 7.5 7
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Average 72% 86% 73% 88% 78%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Average 63% 72% 64% 84% 69%

You can also look at quality on a technical level. High-definition 4K technology is quickly becoming the standard, and a good movie streaming service should keep up. So we looked at the amount of 4K content that the services offer. Netflix impressed us with over 600 titles available to stream in 4K, while HBO does not support any 4K or HDR content.

We Examined Interfaces and Checked Compatibility

No matter how great the movies are, a streaming service is useless if a consumer can’t navigate the platform. Damien Mason, expert reviewer at ProPrivacy, told us “User interfaces need to be clean in order to showcase content and display relevant information — such as the trailer, genre, acting stars, and age rating. Having the ability to search for videos by these subcategories is also a bonus, as well as algorithms that can accurately suggest things the more it gets to know viewing habits.” Consumers echoed this priority when Nielsen asked them to rank the attributes most important to them in a streaming service. “Easy to use technology” came second with 56%, just one point below “variety of content available.”

We also considered offline viewing and device compatibility — being able to download movies for a long flight or times when you’re without internet can be a huge perk. We also gave favor to services that allow you to create separate profiles for different users. A great movie service will curate fresh content for each profile and help you never waste a movie night scrolling through things you’ve already seen.

We Accounted for Value, Too

Some services have tiers of membership, and others include features that go beyond streaming. Amazon’s Prime Video, for example, can be purchased individually for about $9 per month. Or, for about $1 more per month ($119 annual fee), you can pay for the whole Amazon Prime membership that includes expedited shipping, music streaming, e-books, and more. That’s an impressive value, especially next to Netflix’s $14 per month cost for just video streaming. Services that offer a larger content catalog for its price may be of greater value to some customers.

What’s Next?

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