Which TV streaming service is the best value for money?
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. Latest figures show that around 78% of households in America currently subscribe to at least one TV streaming service. Subscribers seem to want new original shows, classic movies, and access to 4K HDR content on demand. Deciding which one to choose, however, can be a challenge.
This study analyzes the content on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Paramount+, and Peacock to find out which one offers consumers the best content for their money.
- AppleTV+ has the highest average IMDb score for its streaming library (7.08/10), for the 2nd year running (2021 and 2022), but has the smallest library of content.
- Hulu has the highest-quality 4K content, with an average of 7.32/10 IMDb score, but only has 49 titles, compared to Netflix which has the most at 667.
- HBO Max offers the most ‘excellent’ quality (8+ IMDb score) moviesper $1 spent on its cheapest subscription at 23 movies per dollar.
- Netflix offers over 2.7x more ‘excellent’ quality (8+ IMDb score) TV shows than its nearest competitor: HBO Max (619 vs 230).
- Disney+ now offers the biggest library of family-friendly content (1,139), taking the crown from HBO Max, which had 2021’s largest library.
- Netflix has added the highest number of new shows/movies (1,404) from 2021- to 2022, but Apple TV+ added the highest percentage increase to its library (55.78%).
Which TV streaming service has the best value for money?
For the quantity of content you get for your subscription price, Netflix’s library is unmatched: it is almost twice as large as its nearest competitor, HBO Max (6,475 vs 3,503), with both offering their most basic packages for $9.99/month.
But, value for money shouldn’t be judged by the pure quantity of content available to viewers: it needs to factor in the quality of titles users are able to stream.
Using IMDb ratings in four score ranges the study shows that Netflix offers the most titles of ‘Excellent’ quality (795), closely followed by HBO Max (463). Some analyses will look at the total number of content on these platforms (including paid-for movies and series) but this study only takes into account the content available to audiences at the price you pay per month.
The IMDb score ranges used were as follows:
- 8-10 Excellent
- 6-7.99 Good
- 4-5.99 OK
- <4 Poor
Titles which had a ‘0’ IMDb score were discounted.
Which streaming service gives you a better bang for your buck?
It may be clear that Netflix provides the most content, and a lot of high-quality content, and is similarly priced to the other platforms, therefore it seems to offer the best value for money. But what exactly does this look like per dollar, and what is the best choice if you have children or want the most 4K/HDR content?
Movies per $1 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. Netflix is on top with 18 ‘Excellent’ movies per $1, and 188 movies considered ‘Good’.
The runner-up is HBO Max offering 23 ‘Excellent’ movies, and 163 ‘Good’ movies per $1.
It may be interesting to some that Paramount+ offers the highest number of movies per $1 in the ‘Good’ rating (192), beating Netflix’s 188. Paramount+ also offers the highest number of movies per $1 considered ‘OK’ (204).
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TV shows per $1 spent
While HBO Max has a library of movies to rival Netflix, when it comes to those binge-worthy seasons, currently, no one is beating the big red streaming giant.
Netflix offers viewers 62 ‘Excellent’ shows (out of 619) for every $1, and 208 ‘Good’ shows (out of 2,075). Amazon Prime Video offers the 2nd most ‘Excellent’ shows per dollar, at 25 (out of 223), with Hulu offering the 3rd most ‘Good’ shows at 192 per $1 (out of 1,340).
Overall, Netflix offers 314 shows per $1, with Hulu in 2nd place, providing access to 289 shows per $1.
Which streaming service has the best 4K content?
If you judge 4K content by the average audience reviews, Hulu comes out on top with a 7.32 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.
4K content was actually the lowest average on HBO Max (6.63), while Netflix had the vastly larger library of 4K content at 667 items, compared to its nearest competitor, Disney+. When this data was analyzed, Peacock was not streaming content in 4K.
Average audience ratings of 4K content on each streaming service:
- Hulu (7.32)
- Apple TV+ (7.31)
- Paramount+ (7.30)
- Prime Video (7.14)
- Netflix (6.86)
- Disney+ (6.69)
- HBO Max (6.63)
Best streaming platform for children
To determine which streaming platform offers the most, and best content for families and children we filtered our analysis based on ages 7 (TV-Y7/PG/etc) and below.
“Disney+ is now the best value streaming service for children, offering over 1,100 titles suitable for younger audiences, beating 2021’s winner, HBO Max.”
Currently, the streaming service with the highest-quality family content is Apple TV+ (7.34/10) with shows like ‘Fraggle Rock’ and ‘Charlie Brown’ suitable for younger audiences. However, Disney+ is the clear winner in terms of quantity, with 1,139 child-friendly titles, a total of 1,101 more than Apple TV+’s library.
In 2021, HBO Max was found to offer the highest-rated child-friendly content (6.99) and offered the most (1,066), however, Disney+ is now the best value streaming service for children, offering over 1,100 titles suitable for younger audiences, beating 2021’s winner, HBO Max.
Our data shows that Netflix only added 122 titles suitable for children in the same time period, indicating a focus on more mature content.
In terms of quality, on average HBO Max’s catalog of 1,066 titles is rated higher (6.87) than Disney+’s (6.63), with titles such as ‘Tom and Jerry’ and ‘Batman: The Animated Series.’
Average audience ratings of child-friendly content (ages 7 and below) on each streaming service:
- Apple TV+ (7.34)
- Hulu (6.93)
- HBO Max (6.87)
- Netflix (6.85)
- Peacock (6.79)
- Prime Video (6.68)
- Disney+ (6.63)
- Paramount+ (6.34)
Best streaming platform per genre
To take this analysis a step further the study also analyzed the impact of audience ratings per genre on each streaming platform. It reviews all movies/shows per genre on each platform and takes the average IMDb rating (out of 10) to see who is the best in each category. The bold scores highlight the winner(s) in each category.
At the time of this analysis, Paramount+’s genre information was not available so is not included in the comparison table below.
||Apple TV+ 7.58*
||HBO Max 6.87
||Apple TV+ 7.31*
||HBO Max 6.77
||Apple TV+ 7.38
||HBO Max 7.04
||Apple TV+ 7.4*
||HBO Max 7.50
||Apple TV+ 7.41
||HBO Max 6.68
||Apple TV+ 7.33*
||HBO Max 6.84
||Apple TV+ 7.33
||HBO Max 7.38
||Apple TV+ 7.34
||HBO Max 7.12
||Apple TV+ 7.11
||HBO Max 6.71
||Apple TV+ 6.18*
||HBO Max 6.26
||Apple TV+ N/A
||HBO Max 7.68*
||Apple TV+ N/A
||HBO Max 5.91
||Apple TV+ 7.32*
||HBO Max 7.56
||Apple TV+ 6.66*
||HBO Max 6.32
||Apple TV+ 7.20*
||HBO Max 7.27
||Apple TV+ 6.75*
||HBO Max 6.93
||Apple TV+ 7.05*
||HBO Max 6.97
||Apple TV+ 2.4*
||HBO Max 6.37
||Apple TV+ 6.8*
||HBO Max 6.40
||Apple TV+ 6.76*
||HBO Max 6.48
||Apple TV+ 7.5*
||HBO Max 6.64
||Apple TV+ 7.16
||HBO Max 7.17
||Apple TV+ 6.95*
||HBO Max 6.41
||Apple TV+ 3.35*
||HBO Max 6.85*
||Apple TV+ 7.01*
||HBO Max 6.31
||Apple TV+ 7.55*
||HBO Max 7.35
||Apple TV+ N/A
||HBO Max 7.17
Notes on the IMDb genre data:
- Asterisk (*) indicates where the streaming service has less than 15 titles (movies and shows) associated with that genre.
- N/A refers to no titles found for that genre, or IMDb had no ratings available for the content.
- Some genre categories had two ‘winners’ as one score was higher, but also had less than 15 titles, therefore is incomparable.
Key findings from genre analysis:
- HBO Max was the highest-rated platform in 11 genre categories, the most out of all platforms, followed by Peacock with 8.
- Apple TV+ has the highest-rated action, adventure, and war content but less than 15 titles in each category.
- Netflix has the highest-rated talk show and fantasy shows and movies.
- Apple TV+’s average rating for dramas was 3.9 in 2021, but 7.34 in 2022, the highest of any streaming service.
- Beating 2021’s winner, Hulu, Amazon’s Prime Video takes the top spot for animations, with the likes of ‘Invincible’ (8.7) leading the way.
- Disney+ is home to the nation’s highest-rated reality TV led by its various National Geographic titles, such as ‘The Incredible Dr. Pol’.
Streaming wars: 2021 vs 2022
This study was undertaken for the first time in 2021. Using the data from the previous year, this analysis can now highlight some key changes in the ‘streaming wars’. Here are some of the findings.
Streaming quality and quantity: 2021 vs 2022
These streaming services add and remove lots of shows and movies every month. With new streaming services popping up, the licensing rights for products change all the time. ‘Downton Abbey’ the period drama, for example, has left Netflix two separate times in recent years. Here’s how the quantity and quality of content has changed from 2021 to 2022.
Quality of content on streaming services
On average, the quality of streaming shows and movies has largely remained stable, only suffering a decrease in IMDb score of 0.91% from 2021-to 2022.
Apple TV+ had the highest point decrease (0.16), while Hulu had the lowest (0.02), but overall, the content on offer from these platforms had not decreased in any significant way.
Quantity of content on streaming services
Looking at the same period of time, the study highlighted approximately how much content is on each platform and how that has changed. Apple TV+ had the highest percentage increase (55.78%) in the content it offers, however, Netflix increased its library by the highest amount (1,404), followed by Disney+ (469).
4K content on streaming platforms: 2021 vs 2022
AppleTV+ has seen the highest percentage increase in 4K content with Netflix adding the highest quantity over the year. For those looking for the most 4K content for their subscription fee, Netflix may be the best bet.
The study included an analysis of 19,336 TV shows, movies, and documentaries, across all platforms. The list was compiled on April 28, 2022, with 2021 data from March 2021, therefore shows added after this will not be included in the analysis. Information relating to the genre, age ratings, audience reviews, and runtime were all sourced from IMDb.
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’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: https://help.imdb.com/article/imdb/track-movies-tv/ratings-faq/G67Y87TFYYP6TWAV#
When analyzing age ratings from the IMDb data, some content had been ‘Not rated’ officially, and others 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/basic monthly subscription cost of the streaming service.
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 3 primary genre categories, therefore, ‘Family’ could not fit. Age ratings were deemed a better judgment of what is family-friendly than a genre tag.
IMDb rating/Audience score
Where multiple seasons exist of a series, we took the overall TV show average rather than repeated averages of each season or episode.
Movie and TV show information was taken from IMDb where the platform states content is available on certain platforms, a smaller amount of extra data came from the streaming platforms themselves too. 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.