Streaming services have changed the world of entertainment by giving viewers more freedom than ever before. People are able to buy a subscription and watch what they want, when they want to and often without commercials or other advertisements.
That being said, the basic concept of a streaming service is pretty simple. So what features have these four major streaming services added that distinguish them from others?
Netflix was the original streaming service and feels like it has been a part of our lives forever. While it does have significantly steeper competition now than it did when it first introduced it’s streaming service in 2007, it still remains the most popular streaming service with over 200 million global subscribers.
One of the benefits to Netflix is that even the subscription with the lowest-priced model does not have advertisements during the shows. Although this basic subscription only allows for the account to be used on one device at a time, the next highest allows for two devices at a time and the most expensive allows for four devices to be streaming the same account at the same time.
Netflix also currently allows users to download some shows and movies so they can watch them on the app without internet connection. Users can also turn on the “Downloads for You” feature which causes your Netflix app to automatically download the first few episodes of shows it predicts you will like based on an algorithm that uses the shows and movies you’ve previously watched like data.
One helpful feature of Disney+ is that instead of just having their movies and TV shows separated by genre, they have the Disney-owned franchises as sub sections. This is helpful both for organization and for the times when a viewer may have an idea of the type of movie or show they want to watch but not have a specific one in mind.
Disney+ also has a child setting that the main user can assign to the profiles. While this child setting allows parents to set up parental controls, it is also designed with the kids in mind.
When a profile is created and assigned as a kids profile, the interface actually changes to have a larger emphasis on pictures of the show and movie characters instead of titles to make it easier for children who cannot read yet to find the content they want to watch. Another feature of the kids profile is that parents can set up a “Kid-Proof Exit” making it harder for children to leave a kids profile.
The kids profiles aren’t the only part of Disney+ that takes the content rating into account. The entire server actually does not have movies that are rated over PG-13 or TV-14.
Hulu is another streaming service that is owned by Disney, though unlike Disney+, they have more content than what is traditionally considered to be Disney shows and movies.
One benefit to Hulu is all of the other services that can be bundled in with it. Just one example is a special that is offered to college students that allows them to purchase the basic subscription of Hulu, Spotify Premium and Showtime for $5.37 per month.
Hulu subscriptions can also be purchased with Live TV, HBO Max, Disney+ and more.
While these bundles are convenient to users, one downside is that both the basic subscriptions of Hulu and Hulu with Live TV have advertisements throughout the shows and movies. Although this is not a huge inconvenience because the users can decide to pay more to avoid the advertisements, it can sometimes feel more similar to watching TV live because not having commercials is typically one of the reasons streaming is so convenient.
HBO Max is the newest of all of these streaming services, only coming out in May of 2020, and is the most expensive at $15 per month. However within the year it has been active, HBO Max has roughly 41 million subscribers and they are planning to launch an advertisement supported, less expensive version in June 2021.
A function that HBO Max currently offers that is unique to their streaming service is the “Recommended By Humans” section. Instead of using algorithms to make content suggestions HBO Max invited celebrities like Zac Efron and Adam DeVine to share their favorite and go-to movies and shows.
Each streaming service company is working from the same original idea; allowing people to stream content such as shows and movies in a convenient way. As this industry grows and the technology continues to improve, the users will also see more features being created so each company is able to offer a unique user experience.