Battle of the streaming services

Helping you decide which platform is worth your money

There are several streaming options to choose between.
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As students, many of us don’t have money to waste on subscribing to a myriad of streaming services. If you’re not mooching off your parents’ accounts or splitting subscriptions with your housemates, chances are you’ve wondered: which television and movie streaming site will get me the most bang for my student buck?

This summer, with too much time on my hands, I signed up for a free trial with four of Canada’s biggest streaming platforms: Netflix, Crave, Amazon’s Prime Video, and Disney+. To help my fellow students, I’m breaking down the pros and cons of each of these services so you can draw your own conclusions about which might be most worth your subscription.

Netflix

There’s not a lot to be said about Netflix that hasn’t been said a thousand times before—this streaming giant is the most obvious choice, and probably the first thing you think of when someone says ‘streaming subscription’.

The platform is a staple for good reason; it offers a diverse selection of popular and highly rated TV and films, including favourites like The Office. Netflix also offers a variety of original films and series you can’t get on any other platforms, like the critically acclaimed series Stranger Things.

The most basic Netflix subscription, which includes the entire platform’s library, costs $9.99 per month and allows for streaming on one device at a time. Upgrading the quality of streamed video and the number of streams at once is an additional cost.

Crave

While it doesn’t boast nearly as expansive a library of TV and films as Netflix, Crave is home to some popular programming that isn’t available on the other platforms. If you’re a fan of HBO shows, the platform’s exclusive Canadian rights to HBO and Showtime programming is a positive—you’re not able to stream episodes of Game of Thrones through any other services. Crave is priced similarly to Netflix at $9.99 per month.

However, Crave’s best content is reserved for subscribers who pay for more than the basic subscription. To gain access to many of the best films and shows on the platform, users must pay additional fees to subscribe to program packages on top of their basic subscriptions. For example, if you’d like to stream Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, you have to purchase the Movies + HBO add-on, which costs an additional $9.99 per month. Even if you can look past the lacking programming selection, it’s impossible to ignore that, in order to access a large portion of Crave’s library, you have to pay twice as much per month.

Prime Video

Unlike any of the other streaming services, a Prime Video subscription is good for more than just TV and movies. Prime Video is a feature that comes free with an Amazon Prime membership, which costs only $3.99 per month for students. If you’re already a frequent Amazon user, upgrading to a Prime membership would not only give you free two-day shipping, but access to Amazon’s collection of programming.

Prime Video has a wide selection of documentaries, shows, and films, but not nearly as new and flashy a collection as its competitors—you’ll find a great deal of obscure shows you’ve never heard of and old movies you don’t care to watch. Prime does, however, offer its own exclusive originals, including popular productions like the Jack Ryan television series and the new film Chemical Hearts.

Disney+

If you’re a big fan of Disney, this is the platform for you.

The majority of all Disney productions are slowly becoming only available to stream through Disney+, so if you’re looking to relive your childhood watching episodes of Kim Possible or Finding Nemo, you’re only going to be able to do that is if you pay Mickey Mouse $8.99 per month. Disney+ is also home to the majority of instalments and spin-offs from Disney-owned franchises Marvel and Star Wars.

The crux of the service is that it only offers programming from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic. The lack of diversity in the content Disney+ offers makes it hard to justify a subscription if you want to watch content outside of that limited scope.

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