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Ranking Streaming Services by Content
We look at Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock, and Apple TV+, and decide which takes the cake as the best streaming service out there, based purely on content.
Whenever I do a ranking of streaming services, I tend to avoid talking about content. I talk about interfaces, pricing, device support—all that stuff. That's tangible and rankable. But what I don't talk about, again, is content because the content is just too subjective. Everyone's got their own opinion.
So today we're ranking the major on-demand streaming services based on their content. Should be fun—so let's dive in.
Okay. Now, first of all, I said we’re ranking the major streaming services, which means I'm not including every niche service out there, some of which are excellent.
But today we're going to stick with Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, HBO Max, Disney Plus, Peacock and Apple TV Plus. Yeah, we're throwing that one in there. Now, no, I didn't include Quibi because—you know.
Anyway, there are two things we have to consider when we are ranking these streaming services based on their content. We have to consider the objective and the subjective stuff.
That means that we are going to have a few numbers to play around with. But, since this is my video, we also have to deal with my opinions. Which is okay when you think about it, because when you consider the fact that #craigisalwaysright—my opinion is pretty much an objective metric anyway.
Which streaming service has the most content?
All right, so objectively speaking, let's talk about how much content these services have.
Netflix is actually down from its peak, as far as amount of content that it had. About a decade ago, I want to say, they had like 7,500 titles, but a lot of that has been clawed back by the providers that they were licensing that content from because everybody has begun building their own sandboxes.
That's why we have 18,000 streaming services to choose from these days. Now, Netflix has about 5,800 titles. If we're talking about movies and shows, I'm not talking about individual episodes, but that comes out to 2.2 million minutes of content, or put another way, 36,000 hours.
Now Prime Video and Hulu are harder to find hard numbers for.
Hulu is probably a little more comparable to Netflix as far as how they offer their stuff. But again, no great numbers that I could find, at least not recently. With their concentration on TV shows, though, I'm guessing it's a lot of hours of content.
HBO Max did tell us their numbers when they launched a couple of months ago: 10,000 hours available at launch.
And Peacock, twice that—20,000 hours, at least on their premium tier—and they have about 13,000 on the free tier, so plenty to watch there.
Disney Plus: when they launched last year, they launched with about 4,000 hours, which sounds small compared to the others, but that's still plenty to watch. And that has grown a bit since then. You know, new episodes, new shows being added.
Apple TV Plus
And Apple TV Plus—this is a great one—has a grand total of 36 shows and movies in its lineup as I'm filming this. Now I didn't get a runtime on that, but I think it's safe to say that we're not talking about thousands of hours of content here. We're talking about low three digits.
All right. And by the way, just for fun, if we break that down by cost per title, we go from 0.2 cents a month that you're paying on Netflix to 13.90 cents on Apple TV Plus for every title that you have available to watch. That's quite the spread.
Streaming services with the most original content
But it's not just about absolute quantity, is it? We should take a look at their original programming more closely. Why? Because, while this is an oversimplification, the rule here is licensed content comes and goes, but originals are forever.
So if you sign up for Netflix, then you're going to have those Netflix originals, and you don't have to worry about them coming or going every month.
Streaming services with the best original content
All right, so now it's time to talk about quality.
Netflix may have 1200 titles you say, but it's mostly crap, right? Well, maybe. It's true that there's a lot of garbage to wade through, but the quality stuff on Netflix is truly quality. In fact, the 2020 Emmy nominations just came out, and this year Netflix scored 160 nominations—a new record for the Emmys. And one that breaks the record set last year by HBO.
So this year, HBO got 107 nominations. There were 30 for Prime Video, 26 for Hulu, and 19 for Disney Plus—15 of which are just for The Mandalorian. So yeah, they have one hit. And then Apple TV Plus, our sleeper hero: they scored 18 nominations from their programs.
Again, Peacock is just too new, so there’s nothing qualified there.
Best streaming services ranked by content, from least to greatest
All right, so now that we know how much there is to watch on these services, and we have at least one measure of how good the original stuff is, who's the winner? Well, this is the subjective part because we can throw all those numbers from above in there, but ultimately it's going to come down to what you prefer.
So I'm going to give you my ranking, and if you disagree, take it up with the comments section.
Ranked from least favorite to most favorite:
Again, Peacock is just too new; we'll see where it goes. We'll see where its original programming goes. I just—I haven't been very compelled to watch it.
Similarly, number six is Hulu, and this is the subjectivity talking. I know Hulu is a great service. I just don't use it very much. I don't find it very compelling. I don't love most of their original content. So yeah, number six goes to Hulu.
5. Apple TV Plus
Which means number five is Apple TV Plus. You might be surprised, but frankly, it’s shockingly good stuff. There may not be much of its original content, but it's really good. I'm watching Mythic Quest right now—fantastic.
4. Amazon Prime Video
Number four is Prime Video because it's Prime Video, and they've got a bunch of stuff. It's pretty great.
3. Disney Plus
Number three is Disney Plus because I've got kids, so it has to be ranked pretty highly.
2. HBO Max
And number two is HBO Max because eventually my kids go to bed. So, HBO Max.
And number one is Netflix. Maybe it's disappointing to you that I'm not dethroning the king, but Netflix is king for a reason. They've got a lot of great stuff and a lot of really good stuff too.
That’s a Wrap
So there you go, that's my ranking. And again, I'm not ranking on price, or device availability, or any of the other stuff—it's just based purely on the content itself. So go ahead and hit the comments and let me know what you think of my ranking.
But before you start getting on my case about poor methodology or forgotten statistics or whatever—just trust me, I know. This is a garbage ranking based on trash criteria, but hey, it's fun to do anyway.