A guide to navigating the streaming services

A guide to navigating the streaming services

On a college student's budget, in what order should you subscribe to streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Now and Netflix?


In the continually expanding roster of streaming services growling at each other for your subscription, it's dubious to believe people are only committing to one. Earlier this month, new additions like Disney+ and Apple TV+ were released and made the decision to be selective leap out the window like the cash in your wallet.

I mean, how could you decide? Apple TV+ launched with many A-listers driving their service to the forefront of our attention, and Disney+ with a new Star Wars series!

How I plan to make this process of elimination easier between these and Netflix, Hulu and HBO Now amongst others, is to instead pitch an order you should follow to save yourself the fatigue of all the options and more than a couple dollars in your pocket.

Here I'll be reviewing the original content options on the streaming services of Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Now and Netflix, and how their programming has been awarded to list why one is a clear "subscribe now" option over another.

Kicking off our presentation will be Amazon Prime Video. The service comes with any Prime membership and those offers include a student discount option. The Amazon Original, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel'' has some very high credentials, as one should when receiving 20 out of the 47 Amazon Original Emmy nominations this year. Amazon grew from 23 Emmy nominations in 2018 to 47 in 2019. This show has 2 seasons available to stream and a third on the way in early December. With additional awarded shows on the service, this is not one to wait on, especially since students are bound to know a family member or friend with an Amazon Prime account. This marks high on my list.

With Apple TV+ very recent release, I wouldn't suggest subscribing until the shows have gathered some more traction, or when more releases are made. Surprisingly, this service adopted a weekly release schedule for some of its programming. Right now the title shows on the platform are "The Morning Show" starring Jennifer Anniston and Reese Witherspoon, "See" with Jason Mamoa, and "For All Mankind" with Joel Kinnaman all with new episodes released on Fridays. Hailee Steinfeld stars in "Dickinson" a comedy series that is ready for a binge, unlike the other content. The service claims to bring new originals each month, and has the likes of Octavia Spencer, J.J. Abrams, M. Night. Shyamalan, Taika Watiti, Chris Evans, and many, many more attached to future projects. However, time is money and in the days of streaming a season in less than a week, it is important to not consider this service a necessity until you absolutely can not wait to watch the show you've been anticipating. Just make sure to wait until the full show is out for the best of your spending. Right now any Student Apple Music subscription is also provided with an Apple TV+ subscription at no extra cost, otherwise, it is 4.99 a month. I'm going to add this to the bottom of the list.

Disney+ will be the new exclusive streaming provider for all of their future productions. The service came out earlier this month unlocking some animated classics dated as far back as 1937 with "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves." In addition to these memorable Disney features, there will be Pixar films, Marvel Movies, Star Wars, Disney shows from the early 2000's, and yes, "The Simpsons." There are new shows that adopt a scheduled release similar to Apple TV+, like "The Mandalorian," "Encore," and "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series" which would be a loss to subscribers if it weren't for the massive library of content to watch in the meantime. With additions already made to advance the Star Wars narrative as well as upcoming shows that will continue the MCU series, this service is among the top on my list for excitement, but closer to the middle for necessity. There is no need to spend money on a month's subscription unless it's to watch an entire run of a season! Unless you haven't watched "Avenger's: Endgame" in which case, there is a free seven-day trial available to you. The streaming service is 6.99 a month but free for a year to those who have phone service through Verizon Wireless

It would appear that each of these services has their flagship show driving the bulk of their audiences. For Hulu, I would consider that show "The Handmaid's Tale" starring Elisabeth Moss. In comparison to Amazon Prime Video which had 20 nominations in 2018, Hulu had 27 nominations for the Primetime Emmy Awards. This Hulu Original received 20 of those nominations! Winning in three categories, it is a definitive reason to subscribe and keep up with the available 3 seasons on the service now. Hulu comes free but not without ads to those who have a student Spotify account. Otherwise, the price options range from 5.99 to 11.99 a month.

All of the TV shows on HBO Now are original titles to the company. Featured movies are some that have been released in the previous years as well as classics from decades past. However, if the service was only operating based on it's TV show's it would be a high performing competitor all the same. There are so many awarded programs on HBO that it would be unfortunate to not get these shows on your radar early. There is "Barry," "Game of Thrones," "Chernobyl," and "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver," and "Leaving Neverland" all collectively earning 25 Emmy Awards. HBO held the top spot of any network, and it's because of the phenomenon that is their original content.

It would be impossible to discuss streaming platforms and not invite Netflix to the conversation. There are great names that have become well-known across the platform including Emmy nominated "Stranger Things," "Bodyguard," "Russian Doll," and "Ozark," as shows to be keeping up with. Netflix wasn't something I heard about until everyone had it, but it's expanding reach is being further competed with due to some very par level of programming instead the riveting shows other services are creating.

While it is important for one to decide for themselves what type of content best suits their interests, being mindful of their expenses takes precedent. With free trials aside, I would recommend Amazon Prime Video, HBO Now, and Hulu as top spots on your subscription lists, one beating out the other depending on the show you are most engaged with. For a month that is plenty of time to catch up with what's available, unless its all 8 seasons of "Game of Thrones." Then, in about a month's time is when I would suggest subscribing to a trial on Disney+ and Apple TV+, to binge "The Mandalorian" and settle in for some of those Apple TV+ originals. Finally when you're ready to cozy on up next to old reliable is when I would throw on Netflix to find some joy in casual television and movies that aren't going anywhere anytime soon. The days of juggling services are done, if this method is rotated, then you'll always have binge-worthy content at the ready!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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