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TV Streaming Head-to-Head: Netflix vs Hulu vs Amazon Prime  March 25, 2016 – 01:53 pm

TV Streaming Head-to-Head: Netflix vs Hulu vs Amazon PrimeOne of the more annoying things about Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon's television streaming libraries is the vast difference between the selection available. It would be almost impossible to get a thorough idea of who has the better library without searching for hundreds of TV shows on each service and comparing them manually. So we did just that.

We all have our own impression of what kind of selection different companies have, but we wanted to get a clearer picture. To do that, we searched for 250 shows on Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime to see who has the best selection available for their respective paid subscription services. Just for kicks, we also threw in Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play's selection of shows you can buy as well.


Getting a complete representation of everything that the various streaming services have to offer would be an undertaking too huge and too dense to be useful. In order to get a useful glimpse into the different libraries, here's what we did:

  • We counted IMDb's top 250 TV shows by MOVIEmeter rank. IMDb ranks movies and TV shows based on a scale called MOVIEmeter, which measures how much people are searching for and interacting with certain titles (regardless of ratings, reviews, or recency). The full list can be found here. We gathered the top 250 shows according to this list to represent the shows most people are interested in, irrespective of demographic.
  • We included partial seasons in the count. Some shows are currently airing and new episodes arrive regularly. Other services may get licenses to show half of a season. If a service has six full seasons and part of the seventh season available, we counted it as seven seasons. We did not count "best of" episode packs or holiday specials where applicable.
  • We gave Hulu Plus special "Recent Episode" designations. While Hulu Plus offers a similar service to Netflix and Amazon Prime, it's also the only service surveyed that offers to carry a rotating collection of the last few episodes of a show, or the entire recent season. These were counted as either the "Recent Season" or "Recent Episodes" designation, depending on the licensing scheme.
  • We did not count shows hosted on network sites. Most networks including CBS, HGTV, Adult Swim, Fox, AMC, HBO, Showtime, and dozens more offer full episodes of shows on their own web sites (sometimes for a fee). While Hulu is pretty good at finding out if episodes are available on these sites, we did not include that availability in this analysis.
  • We only looked at US availability. Looking at availability across different services is already pretty complicated, but accounting for differences in international licensing is a mess. Our data only includes US availability, but you may be able to use apps like Hola Unblocker to see content that's available in countries outside your own.

With this in mind, here's what we found:

While we collected far more than just 25 shows, unfortunately showing them all would create a graphic that's just a little bit too big to be useful. This data was collected on the weekend of February 22 and 23rd, and will probably have changed by the time you read this.


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