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Rotten Bananas: ‘So you want to invest in a streaming service?’

In recent years, there has been an explosion in streaming services, that is to say, digital platforms dedicated to sending media content directly to your screen, be that a television, a computer, or a cellphone. For some students, they may have to invest in a streaming service for the first time, and there are a lot of options to consider. 

Firstly, we have the granddaddy of them all: Netflix. The company was originally founded in 1997 as a mail-order service only for movies and TV shows. It was pretty much the nail in the coffin for Blockbuster, although not for movie rental shops as a whole. The advent of their streaming platform didn’t come until 2005 when they scrapped their idea for a “Netflix box” that would download movies to it much like a cable box does for TV in favor of the streaming model that almost everyone knows them for today. 

After Netflix came Hulu. Hulu originally worked exclusively for TV shows and content produced by NBC and their related channels but over the years has grown to include more content from more sources. Hulu was originally intended as like an online DVR service where one could watch TV episodes that had already aired if they missed them, but this idea soon evolved. Hulu, unlike some of its counterparts, uses insert ads to make up most of its profit, not the cost of the service itself. 

After Hulu, one should probably talk about Amazon Prime Video. Amazon Prime Video doesn’t really differ that much from Netflix or Hulu, but it does offer an overwhelming amount of blockbuster actor-featuring original content. Nearly all of their original content features huge stars such as John Krasinski in “Jack Ryder” or Logan Lermon and Al Pacino in “Hunters.” 

The latecomer to the game is Disney+, but this one should not be discredited. Disney+ launched in Nov. 2019 and became an instant success, given that many of the shows and movies now offered on the platform are exclusive, whereas they were initially on the other streaming services. Disney+ hosts both new original content such as “The Mandalorian” or” High School Musical: the Musical the Series,” as well as old Disney Channel favorites like “Wizards of Waverly Place” and “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.”  

There are several not nearly as popular streaming services that are worth mentioning but not worth going into any detail about. These other services include Youtube Red/Youtube TV, the original content and broadcast arm of the internet video service, DC Universe, DC Entertainment’s platform for streaming its original content, and various streaming platforms for broadcast cable networks such as CBS and HBO. However, these small outfits don’t really match up to the others in terms of appeal or subscriber base. 

In choosing a streaming service, there are many factors to consider. The first is obviously cost. Netflix and Hulu run about the same at their base subscription at $7.99 a month, whereas Amazon Prime Video runs $8.99 a month. However, Disney+ beats all three out at $6.99, quite obviously a deliberate tactic to undercut the others. Disney+ wins in the cost category but what other factors go into such a decision? 

The other prime factor is content selection. Many have spent what seems like hours trying to find something to watch while eating dinner or relaxing after a long day and this can become a problem based on the quality of content on platforms, the quantity of content on platforms, and the algorithms that go into selecting content for viewers. For quality, Amazon Prime Video takes the cake on this one. They’ve been around slightly longer than Disney+ so they have had more time to invest more money into their content. For quantity, Amazon Prime technically has the most content but this is also pooled from many different media coffers. For original content, Netflix takes the prize. Being one of the first streaming services allowed them to start the trend of streaming services producing original content. Finally, in terms of the algorithm, Hulu’s selection algorithm is arguably the most sensible. If one watches a comedy, they’re going to be recommended more comedy. Netflix often pushes new releases regardless of genre and subject matter, Disney+ doesn’t quite have the nuanced catalog yet, and Amazon Prime Video is more about selecting content for yourself. 

There are many factors that go into choosing your media diet, but one must be informed before making that selection. Regardless of choice, there is something for everyone on each streaming service. 

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