Between 2019 and 2022 the amount of major streaming services has doubled. We went from Netflix, Prime Video, and Hulu to all 3 of them in addition to Peacock, Disney+, and Paramount+. We consider these 6 the “major streaming services” (sorry Apple TV+). Something we’ve noticed time and time again is that every single service drives us batty. There are simple little mistakes (in our eyes) that each one makes that keep us from truly loving it head to toe. Netflix, Hulu, and Prime have been around the longest and they still things that we’d like to see them reconsider.
We’re certain that a lot of people share some or many of these beliefs. Of course, some of these “flaws” others will see as “positives.” This is the nature of life. Some of these will be far less serious than others. Still, we hope to see many of these fundamental flaws go away as we expect it would lead to a more heated 2nd phase of the Streaming Wars. Recently we wrote a companion piece to this article over at What’s On Netflix. Go check it out after reading this. We go further in depth and analyze the homescreens of each service. In this article after sharing what we consider the “fundamental flaws,” we’ll share an image of a feature we think is excellent. There’s always something good to praise!
In order of launch:
- 4K is a premium tier feature. No other streaming service charges extra and in the era of large screen televisions in many homes, this should be standardized.
- Binge model is not good for current series. This will be the most controversial thing we write. We want to see Wednesday weekly (without waiting 2 months and being spoiled). This is the proper way to stream originals and watch TV. This ensures more people are on the same page and gives people with lives ample time to fit the episodes into their schedule. If you feel otherwise, then YOU can be the one to wait until the season is done and binge it all. Weekly shows keep people talking and create community. It’s easier to appreciate the art when you’re not swallowing it whole. Binge shows spike in interest then drop off. Stranger Things is the exception, not the rule.
- Overpriced. Despite being the BEST overall streaming service, Netflix is overpriced. We’re entering a recession and they’re raising prices annually. The 19.99 premium tier should not exist. The benefits it provides are benefits other services provide standard. With the ad-tier expected to launch November 2022 this is the time to rework their entire tier system and surprise consumers by moving the 19.99 benefits to the 15.49 level. Straight shooting – we’d really blow people’s minds by lowering the 15.59 down to 13.99. Let HBO Max be the most expensive. This would be a grand gesture as other service’s raise their prices and win some people back.
- Too many originals. Simultaneous global releases are good but they should work to limit the amount they release each month as it’s overwhelming to try and keep up and great shows fall by the wayside.
- Only 5 profiles. Most services have 6 or more.
Two sets of flaws. The first will be related to Hulu as a standalone service. The 2nd set will be based on Hulu’s new position as a part of the Disney Bundle.
Hulu: The Service
- No profile avatars. This is just weird. Only streaming service without this basic feature. Minor, yet it staring at names on the profile selector screen is ugly.
- No coming soon section. Weird to have existed this long without a feature all other services have. Oh wait. This makes 2 of those distinctions.
- No watchlist row on homescreen. Easy access? No way! Fun fact: Only Hulu is missing this feature. 3 times now.
- Removing a title from continue watching erasing your watch history. Idiotic implementation. Plain and simple. No other service thinks those two things should be connected. Plus though? Disney+ and Peacock don’t even have this ability.
- Cluttered search results. First of all, props to Hulu for being one of only 2 services (alongside HBO Max) that return results for eepisodes as well as series / films. Unfortunately, Hulu also provides results for content on live TV or available through add-ons. Searching for a title on Hulu and getting results for content on HBO Max, Starz, Showtime, and the TBS channel is frustrating. There should be a toggle to hide these results.
Hulu: Part of the Disney Bundle
- Holds Disney+ back tremendously. Hulu was once our favorite streaming service. Now? It’s our least. After Disney+ launched and Disney took Hulu under its control, everything changed. Other companies began pulling their content back. Disney did not share its library appropriately. Disney broke promises. We were told Disney XD and DIsney Junior would be exclusive to Disney+ in the future. In Year 3 of DIsney+ we’ve watched as Hulu renewed the entire Disney XD hub when it went up for expiration, added multiple Doc McStuffins titles, and also renewed the entire Nat Geo hub as well doubled the hub over a 2 month period. Instead of sharing the wealth, Disney has duplicated a small amount of titles from Hulu to Disney+. Hulu’s existence keeps Disney+ from being a proper streaming service.
- Hoards all bingeable television series in the Disney Bundle. See above.
- Hoards all “mature“content, even after TV-MA and Rated R ratings unlocked at Disney+ March 2022. See above.
- Searchlight Pictures, and most Touchstone, Hollywood, and 20th Century Studios films remain Hulu bound. Look, we know we’re judging Hulu on a different standard. That’s Disney’s fault. They want Disney+ and Hulu to be a “bundle” but in reality they’re toxic bedfellows. As a standalone service Hulu was better.
- User Interface is nothing like Disney+’s. In Latin America, Star+ and Disney+ are clones.
- No “New” or “New Episodes” badges. It’s bizarre that the 3rd only streaming service still doesn’t have this basic feature. Even with their brand new, long overdue UI overhaul.
- MGM brand is not utilized properly. Prime Video does not even acknowledge the recent Amazon acquisition of MGM with a hub or collection.
- Just kinda there. Honestly, with the new UI a lot of Prime’s problems have been handled. However nobody is gonna call it there favorite service. People only have it because it’s a perk of Prime shipping.
- Splits content unevenly with Hulu. We already went into this under Hulu’s section.
- Does not stream binge TV. Again, see Hulu’s section.
- Little variety, many genres are sent solely to Hulu. Again.
- No next-day episodes. We hope to see this change with the ad-tier launch this December, but scarily enough they’ve yet to say anything about it… The fact that even The Simpsons is still doing next days on Hulu is not something we’re happy with. After all, they call Disney+ the streaming home of the brand. If Nat Geo, Nat Geo Wild, Disney Junior, and Disney Channel don’t get with it and match the CBS on Paramount+ or Bravo and NBC on Peacock style of episode rollouts we’re gonna lose it. DisneyNow can stick around or go, doesn’t matter. Just let Disney+ feel like a real service. Please? Stop the confusing distribution strategies that differ for each show, each season, each episode.
- Smallest catalog of any major service. Quantity over quality went out the window when they began doing duplicate titles (Sing Alongs) and listing series as individual titles (I Am Groot, Marvel Assembled). You have no excuse for how little you add to the service each month. None. Hulu? Nope, shh. None. Disney+ USA has about 500 fewer titles than the next service above it (which is Hulu, ironically enough).
- Minimal classic / vintage content. According to Ampere Analysis, Disney+’s catalog is mostly comprised of content from the past 20 years. While this isn’t thaaaat different from their competitors, those services add classic content on a monthly basis. In the time since this chart was released Disney+ is now even worse and more heavily skewed to the 2020s. Just think: Disney just kicked off their #Disney100 celebration yet Disney doesn’t add any content from the first 80 years of the company. Really seems off, doesn’t it? These other services do NOT operate like Disney+ (all homegrown content) and they DO NOT have to deal with the fact that before they launched their executives mislead people by promising many times that “almost all” of the library would be streaming. It’s because of Disney’s homegrown strategy that people expected them to actually add library. We have received only about 5 vintage titles in the past 2 years!
- About to be overpriced. Without a content drop, Disney+ will be vastly overpriced when they bump it up 3 dollars in December. Fun fact: This is the biggest increase in one day of any major streaming service! Iger wanted Disney+ to be the cheapest and most accessible, so Chapek decided to do the opposite. In December, Peacock and Paramount+, both with ~1500 more titles, will be cheaper. W. O. W. Some nerve.
- Does not add new features or update UI. We’re sad that our tracking over the past 2 years has shown that Disney+ quite clearly is the 2nd worst service in this area. Peacock is the only one with less work done. We worry about Disney+’s team. They put out a barebones service and are not (noticeably) improving it?
- No “new” badges on thumbnails. This feature is crucial, so why do the newer services (except Paramount+) not have this?
- No “remove from continue watching” feature. So frustrating to have a bunch of abandoned or “accidentally clicked on” titles when all other services have this feature to clean the queue.
- Poor strategy. We can understand making money off your content by licensing it out. For example, when The Vampire Diaries left Netflix they sent it to Peacock and HBO Max at the same time. Alternatively, a month ago they sent All American: Homecoming to Netflix and removed it from their own schedule where it had been promoted to arrive in 1 week’s time. We aren’t fans of exclusive deals right now as there’s money to be made non-exclusively while also not making it hard for consumers to find where your content is streaming.
- Does not stream major brands like DC in perpetuity. Before David Zaslav took over, WB did not buyout their existing deals for major brands like DC. Now they’ll never do it. Not under the Zas… At least Disney is smart enough to unify their Marvel content.
- No Top 10 row. Weird! HBO is way too secretive about their data.
- Does not add new features or update UI. Much like Disney+, Peacock is far behind its peers. They just don’t upgrade their system and it’s already dated.
- No “new” badges on thumbnails. They share this issue with Prime and Disney+. It’s not helpful if you don’t know when things are new.
- No Top 10 row. The “trending” row they have sucks. It’s VERY obviously not in order since it’s loaded with old series that would not be trending so high.
- No “remove from continue watching” feature. So frustrating to have accidentally clicked on a dumb reality show once and now it’s forever re-appearing every time a new episode airs. 🙁 Only Disney+ and Peacock are missing this feature.
- Terrible windowing. 1.5 year delay on Nick, MTV, VH1 episodes (Industry worst by far).
- Many shows are missing seasons. This issue plagues Paramount+ more so than any other service. It’s not just old stuff like Salute Your Shorts either. Recent addition TMNT (2012) is missing all seasons except the first. What’s so weird is internationally all seasons are streaming and when it was on Hulu earlier this year, they had all of them…
- Many “Netflix Originals.” Paramount content is quite spread out. Some of the content may never leave Netflix. It’s rough having big Nickelodeon franchises split and with Avatar coming, it’s only getting worse.
Drew Ryan is a film, TV, and Disney geek. He has degrees in English, Student Personnel Administration, and Library & Information Science from Lawrence University, Concordia University-Wisconsin, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Interested in the minutia and licensing of streaming service content, he is always publishing lists, suggestions, and advocating for Disney’s missing library to be added to Disney+. Drew subscribes to Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, and Paramount+. You can find him waxing nostalgic over classic Disney Channel or geeking out over Marvel, CW shows, & Disney on Twitter.