Streaming Guides · TV

Which Streaming Service Reigns Supreme?

By  · Published on August 9th, 2016

Dear FSR

Which Stream Reigns Supreme?

What’s a cord-cutter to do?

At some point in your life, you’ve likely been faced with a question that has no solid answer. Some people may take such a puzzle to a trusted confidant, a friendly pastor, or the esteemed annals of Yahoo! Answers. But will they have the expertise needed to solve your most pressing film predicaments?

Think of Dear FSR as an impartial arbiter for all your film concerns. Boyfriend texting while you’re trying to show him your most precious Ozu? What’s the best way to confront the guy who snuck that pungent curry into your cramped theater? This is an advice column for film fans, by a film fan.

Dear FSR,

Can you guys recommend what the best bang-for-your-buck streaming services we have available to us? I’m planning on buying a home in the next few months and have been looking at my budget and where I spend my money (it isn’t pretty). Before I make my move and sign up for a TV/phone/internet bundle can you advise me on the best combo of streaming services I should continue/sign-up for? The area I’m looking to move to has the bundle for about $100/month. If I just get internet access, it’s around $55/month. What can I do with that extra $45?

I haven’t cut the cord yet and I have Netflix and HBO through cable. A lot of networks (CBS, CW) are building their own streaming platforms with exclusive content, Netflix has its own stable of original programming and licensed properties, and then there are the multitudes of other platforms like Hulu, Yahoo, YouTube Red, Crackle, Amazon Prime, and SeeSo – even Apple and PlayStation have their own content. What services provide the best value when it comes to content (original and licensed), movie selection, and price?! What should I do?!


Future Cord Cutter

Future Cord Cutter,

The decision to cut the cord is a big one, one that I made a few years ago before considering my options as well as you’re doing right now. The impulse to stop being gouged by cable is a good one, but the one to self-assess is better.

What do you stream for? Are you a classic movie buff? If so, Hulu might be the answer for all your Criterion Collection needs (that is until FilmStruck takes over the streaming rights this fall). Amazon Instant Video and Netflix are neck-and-neck in terms of content and pricing, so the choice comes down to a preference of selection. Netflix changes their content drastically each month while Amazon’s is more stable. Do you want to work through a collection or do you enjoy the constant turnover of new choices? And would you rather have one of Amazon’s sadly tepid TV offerings or the phenomena that Stranger Things, House of Cards, and Daredevil have been for Netflix?

Crackle, though free, has one of the smallest selections and still makes you watch commercials. We’re cutting cable for a reason here, and commercials are one of them. Hulu, if you want the commercial-free version (and who wouldn’t), is a bit more expensive than the two big guns in the fight and its selection is more focused on modern TV than Netflix. You can also get new content almost immediately after it airs thanks to Hulu’s relationship with networks.

The specific channels, like HBO Now, Showtime, or Starz, are a bit more expensive than any of the curated streaming services and are again going to come down to choice. Though Showtime is the clear loser here when compared to the depth of HBO and Starz’s selections, it’s still miles better than something like YouTube Red. Unless you’re deeply invested in the gangly antics of twenty-somethings still figuring out how to be entertainment professionals, there’s no reason to spend ten dollars a month (equivalent to a Netflix subscription) on YouTube’s crop of sub-reality shows.

Check out this handy infographic we’ve made and use it as the North Star to guide you through your decision-making:

Do you have a question for FSR? Tweet us with the hashtag #DearFSR, ask in the comments, use our member’s only chat, or e-mail us at

We’ll be back answering your questions every Tuesday!

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Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).