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Which TV Streaming Service Is the Best Value for Your Money?

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Self.

It seems every few months there is a new TV streaming service asking us for a monthly subscription or confirming a price increase for the existing service. The latest figures estimate that 62% of households in America currently subscribe to at least one TV streaming service.

People want new original shows, classic movies, and access to 4K HDR content on demand. Deciding which one to choose however, can be a challenge.

We’ve analyzed the content on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, Apple TV+, and HBO Max to find out which one offers you the best content. Let’s dig into the data.

Which TV streaming service has the best value for the money?

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For the quantity of content you get for your subscription price, Netflix’s library is unmatched: It is over three times the size of its nearest competitor, HBO Max, which charges a flat $14.99/month offering no “basic” option like the rest.

But value for the money shouldn’t be judged purely on the quantity of content available to viewers; it needs to factor in the quality of titles we are able to stream.

Using IMDb ratings and scoring ranges we can see that Netflix offers the most titles of excellent quality, closely followed by HBO Max.

Some analyses will look at the total number of content on these platforms (including paid-for movies and series) but we have only taken into account the content available to you at the price you pay per month.

Which streaming service gives you a better bang for your buck?

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It’s likely obvious that Netflix provides the most content, and a lot of high-quality content, and is similarly priced to the other platforms: Therefore, it offers the best value for money. But what exactly does this look like in per-dollar analysis, and what is the best choice if you have children or want the most 4K content?

Movies Per Dollar Spent

This analysis uses the cheapest monthly cost you can pay to see how many movies and shows you get for every dollar you spend. Unsurprisingly, Netflix is on top with 15 “Excellent” movies per dollar, but a huge 165 movies per dollar that are “Good.” The runner-up is HBO Max, despite its much larger price tag ($14.99), offering 14 “Excellent” movies per dollar and 97 “Good” ones.

To find this out we broke down all of the content available on these platforms and analyzed how high audiences rate their content per genre (via IMDb scores) and what content is available in 4K quality.

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TV Shows Per Dollar Spent

While HBO Max has a library of movies to rival Netflix, when it comes to TV shows and those binge-worthy seasons, currently, no one is beating the big red streaming giant.

Netflix offers you 62 “Excellent” shows (out of about 557) for every $1, and 179 “Good” shows (out of 1,608).

Amazon Prime Video offers the second-most “Excellent” shows per dollar at 19 (out of 172), with HBO Max offering the second-most “Good” shows at 50 per $1 (out of 774).

When it comes to getting the most for your money, Netflix is unrivaled. Disney+ does get a notable mention here, though, because it offers almost 45 “Good” shows for every dollar spent (out of 353), taking the third spot.

Which streaming service has the best 4K content?

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If we judge 4K content by audience rating, Hulu comes out on top, with a 7.6 average IMDb score for its 4K movies and series. The British drama “Normal People” is the platform’s highest-rated 4K content at 8.5/10.

Disney+ had the lowest average for 4K content, but that is partially due to the platform having the second-most content behind Netflix.

Average audience ratings of 4K content on each streaming service:

  • Hulu – 7.59
  • Amazon Prime Video – 7.29
  • Apple TV+ – 7.13
  • HBO Max – 7.01
  • Netflix – 6.94
  • Disney+ – 6.63

In terms of 4K quantity, and getting the most bang for your buck, it’s unsurprisingly Netflix who comes out on top with 530 4K titles.

The second position goes to Disney+, however, with 420 ultra-HD titles, sweeping Amazon’s 116 titles away with ease.

If 4K content is the reason you’re looking into streaming services, Netflix and Disney+ should be the only contenders for your cash.

Best streaming platform for families

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To determine which streaming platform offers the most, and best, content for families, we filtered our analysis based on ages 7 (TV-Y7/PG) and below.

While Netflix has the vastly larger library, HBO Max and Disney+ offer more movies and shows for families.

When we factor in audience ratings too, we can see that HBO Max offers the most family-friendly content and the highest quality on average.

For families, the service offers content like Tom and Jerry cartoons, “Batman: The Animated Series,” and “Planet Earth” (rated TV-PG).

It’s no surprise that Disney+ offers a significant amount of family-friendly content, at similar average ratings to the other platforms, too.

Average audience ratings of family content on each streaming service:

  • HBO Max – 6.99
  • Hulu – 6.97
  • Apple TV+ – 6.94
  • Netflix – 6.81
  • Disney+ – 6.69
  • Amazon Prime Video – 6.66

Best streaming platform per IMDb genre

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To take this analysis a step further, we also analyzed the impact of audience ratings per IMDb-assigned genre on each streaming platform. This is where Netflix’s vast quantity is its downfall, as other streaming services, namely HBO Max and Hulu, take the top spots more often than not.

Key findings from IMDb genre analysis:

  • Netflix has the best game-show content out of all streaming services. (6.75 IMDb rating)
  • HBO Max has the best documentaries, and has almost 300 of them. (299)
  • Hulu has the highest-rated comedies (137), but Netflix (1,785) and HBO Max (1,252) have far more to choose from.
  • Disney+ has the highest-rated sci-fi content, while Hulu takes the top spot for animations.
  • HBO Max has half the number of horror content (171) compared with Netflix (359) but is on average better in quality (6.21 v 5.19).
  • Apple TV+ has put most of its effort into dramas (47) but only averages a 3.9 IMDb score per show.
  • HBO Max has the best sports content, averaging 6.8 for each piece of content (Hulu has a high score but only two pieces of sports content).

Methodology and Sources

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We analyzed tens of thousands of TV shows, movies and documentaries from IMDb to get lists of content available on each platform. The list was compiled on March 23, 2021, therefore shows added after this will not be included in the analysis.

Likewise, if a show was removed from one platform and transferred to another around this date, there may also be changes in the data. For those streaming platforms that offer paid options on top of the content already available like Prime Video and Apple TV+ we discounted any content that users needed to pay for on top of the existing subscription fee.

IMDb score

IMDb’s Top 250 content has scores of 8+ therefore our analysis used those with an IMDb score of 8+ for Excellent and 6-7.99 for Good, with anything below this being deemed OK-Poor. IMDb weights its averages internally to ensure fairness and no manipulation of the system. You can read more about that here.

Age ratings

When analyzing age ratings from the IMDb data, some content had been officially “Not rated,” and other content lacked a rating on the IMDb listing. These were removed from any analysis related to age ratings.

Per dollar analysis

Per dollar analysis of the content was calculated using the number of movies and shows against the minimum monthly subscription cost of the streaming service. HBO Max does not offer a tiered pricing like the other platforms which should be taken into consideration.

Family content analysis

For the analysis of “family content” we used the age ratings of all content suitable for ages 7 and under, not the content labeled as a “Family” genre from IMDb. This is due to lots of content not being labeled as “Family” in the IMDb listings, or where a listing already had three primary genre categories and therefore “Family” could not fit. Age ratings were deemed a better judgment of what is family-friendly than a genre tag.

Data collected

We collected the content title, release date, age rating classification, runtime, genre(s), associated streaming platform, IMDb score, content quality (HD/HDR), and whether it was an “Original” to that platform. Where multiple seasons exist of a series, we took the overall TV show average rather than repeated averages of each season. This overall TV show average fed into wider averages. For example, “Average 4K IMDb score” will factor one score from a TV show and not each individual episode score.

Sources

All streaming content was adapted from IMDb listings. To find out whether content was available in 4K or HDR, we used listings from HD Report and checked this separate data against our own streaming content listings. Wikipedia was also used to update data that was missing from the IMDb listings.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.