Quality Netflix competitors are few and far between. When you hear about streaming television and movies, one name comes to mind immediately. After all, it’s not “Hulu and chill.” It’s not “Amazon Prime Video and chill.” People “Netflix and chill.”
But in recent years, Netflix competitors have made great strides in improving their content and even providing “must-have” shows that make them worthy of, at a minimum, subscribing to them alongside Netflix. Some services try. YouTube, for example, introduced a streaming service but its quality doesn’t come near that of Netflix or other alternatives. Sling TV also tries hard but isn’t worth mentioning alongside the top streaming providers.
Netflix is a giant. The original programming hits like Orange is the New Black, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Stranger Things, and House of Cards alone have driven subscriptions to epic levels. And Netflix promises a lot where original content is concerned. This year, the streaming giant is spending $8 billion on content, 85 percent of which will be on original shows and movies. Currently, Netflix spends more on non-sports content than any streaming provider and many traditional TV networks. This includes Viacom and CBS, two major spenders in television content. In other words, theirs is a hard crown to steal.
Netflix’s basic package is $8 per month, but it only offers standard definition programming. For a few dollars more per month, you can stream on an additional device simultaneously and watch in high-definition. If you want to watch on more devices, you can view on four at once for $14 per month. This package also enables Ultra-HD if you have a device capable of handling it.
So, what streaming providers can be considered competition and do they have a chance of dethroning the king?
Hulu is perhaps the closest among Netflix competitors. In recent years, Hulu has produced some amazing original television shows, miniseries, and movies.
The Handmaid’s Tale is a household name at this point. It centers on a Christofascist nation that was once most of the United States. With a virus largely making women infertile, those who are able to conceive are forced into sexual slavery. The show is both terrifying and entrancing and leaves you wanting more each week.
Future Man is the story of a video game nerd who is tasked with saving humanity after beating a game that was, in reality, a training simulation sent from the future. It’s a quirky (and raunchy) must-see show you’re sure to love.
Hulu has even picked up a Marvel show, Runaways, that is arguably better than some of Netflix’s offerings. The show centers around a group of teens who find out their parents are supervillains and literally run away to fight them. Plus, there’s a dinosaur, which is kind of cool.
Hulu also adapted Stephen King’s 11.21.63, a time-travel thriller centering on an attempt to stop the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Unfortunately, the future wants to happen no matter how much someone may want to change it.
On top of originals, Hulu has something going for it that Netflix doesn’t. You can watch current episodes of many television shows the day after they air.
Hulu has some great television available, including the third season of popular adult cartoon Rick and Morty, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Preacher, and more. Unlike Netflix, it also offers a live TV package.
Hulu costs $7.99 per month for its base content with commercials, but you can pay $11.99 to go commercial-free on most shows. The Live TV package is $39.99 per month.
DirecTV Now goes head-to-head with Hulu’s live TV feature. You don’t need to have the company’s satellite service to subscribe to DirecTV Now. The satellite provider’s streaming service gives you access to up to 120+ channels, which is huge among Netflix competitors.
In addition, DirecTV Now has a massive library of up to 25,000 OnDemand shows and movies. While you have options, DirecTV Now lacks original programming. So if you’re looking to watch something you won’t find elsewhere, you’re out of luck. In addition, it’s expensive. If you want access to all of the service’s features, you’ll be paying $70 out of pocket.
Sony PlayStation Vue
Sony PlayStation Vue is another streaming TV service. It’s great for sports fans, as its Sports Pack has many features sports lovers will enjoy. Its base package is $39.99 per month and if you want to take full advantage of the service, you’ll be paying a whopping $74.99 per month.
PSVue has a decent number of channels, but no original content. It has On Demand content, but nothing you can’t get elsewhere. If you’re looking for something to give you television and not much else, Playstation Vue can be good for you. But if you care about a large variety of On Demand shows and movies or original content, you should look elsewhere.
Britbox is exactly what it sounds like. If you’re a fan of British television shows, you’ll find a large assortment that is sure to please you. While you won’t see many originals yet, the key word is “yet.”
Britbox recently began moving into original programming with The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco, a spinoff of the popular U.K. drama. Britbox is cheaper than most streaming services at $6.99 per month, but its content is limited. You’ll find some popular British shows on other services like Netflix and Hulu while still having access to other great programs.
But if you’re a fan of British TV, no one does it better than Britbox.
Netflix has a large assortment of anime, but anime is all Crunchyroll does. This service features a staggering collection of Japanese animation, access to a huge library of anime and manga, and simulcasts of Japanese shows as soon as one hour after they hit the air across the ocean.
If you like dubbed anime, you’re out of luck on Crunchyroll. But subtitles are provided if you like a little bit of light reading with your anime. But at least you won’t have to deal with badly-translated English versions of your favorite shows.
Crunchyroll costs $6.99 per month, so it’s well worth it if you’re a fan of anime.
Amazon Prime Video
A membership to Amazon Prime will cost you about $8.99 per month, but you get a lot more than just streaming television and movies. Not only will you get free two-day shipping on many items purchased from the Amazon website, but it also has something many of these other Netflix competitors lack: original programming.
Amazon recently resurrected the cult classic, The Tick, a comedy about a blue-suited (and remarkably dopey) superhero and his superpower-free sidekick.
You’ll also find Comrade Detective, a buddy-cop comedy with a twist. The show is supposedly “unearthed” Romanian pro-Communism propaganda. It’s not, but it certainly has that feel. It’s filmed in Romanian then dubbed in English by big-name stars like Nick Offerman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Channing Tatum, and more. And no matter what, American capitalists pigs are behind everything.
Perhaps the best-known Amazon Prime original is The Man in the High Castle, a “what-if” scenario set in the 1960’s exploring what would have happened had the Axis Powers won World War II. This show is worth the price of admission alone.
In addition, Amazon Prime Video gives you access to a huge library of great television and movies. You’ll find a lot of amazing shows that aren’t around anymore, including Psych, Eureka, Monk, House, and more.
As a Prime member, you get discounts on other Amazon services, as well as access to music and e-books. This is something no one else offers.
Sling TV is a great budget streaming TV service. It’s cheaper than other streaming TV services, with its most expensive package costing around $40 per month. Sling TV gives you On Demand content. But it lacks many of the bells and whistles you’ll find with most other streaming services.
If you like having access to live TV, this can be a great companion to Netflix. But if you are looking for original content, there are definitely better options.
Can These Services Beat Netflix?
If any of the Netflix competitors are ever going to dethrone Netflix, it’s going to be Hulu. Not only have they been stepping up their game in terms of original programming, but they also offer live television programming options. In addition, you can add on premium networks like Showtime and HBO.
Amazon Prime also has extras that Netflix does not offer, including the ability to “add on” many premium channels.
However, no one is investing in original programming like Netflix is, so it’s unlikely that another service will be coronated anytime soon. Netflix could do more for customers, like offer current programming as Hulu does. But for now and the foreseeable future, Netflix competitors won’t be able to truly compete.