The Digital Age Wars: Ranking the Most Popular Streaming Services

With so many options, how do streaming services manage to set themselves apart?


Erik Mclean / Unsplash

According to the Motion Picture Association, subscriptions for streaming services rose to 1.1 billion in 2020.

Little did anyone know on August 29th, 1997, the creation of Netflix would eventually restructure the entertainment industry with a boom of streaming services. Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Max (formerly known as HBO Max), Paramount Plus, Discovery+, Peacock, and Apple TV… the list goes on and on. 

The introduction of streaming services led cable television to be labeled as “old-fashioned” and “less convenient.” With streaming services, users can watch any show or movie they want, whenever they want. 

All streaming services promise similar things: diverse range of content, ground-breaking original content and accessible user interface. The five most popular streaming services are Netflix, Hulu, Max, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus. However, which streaming service truly stands on top? I conducted a survey among Bronx Science students to find out their favorite.

Compared to all other U.S. streaming libraries, Hulu has the highest number of total content hours. (Susan Cohen)

5. Hulu

At the bottom of the streaming services tier, rests Hulu. It isn’t necessarily a bad streaming service, but it doesn’t provide anything extraordinary. The majority of content on Hulu consists of cable television originally aired on other networks, but their rights happened to be sold to Hulu. There are a few entertaining original shows from Hulu, such as ‘The Great’ and ‘Only Murders in the Building.’ Other than that, Hulu isn’t exactly thriving in the original content department. 

When asked to rank the different streaming services, Sebastian Merkatz ’25 said, “Hulu is last for me since I feel that it lacks innovation and stand-out content.” Navigating Hulu is primarily simple, but its layout does little to encourage viewers to continue its use. 

A major factor that discourages people from using Hulu is the presence of ads despite having a subscription. The convenient aspect of streaming services is the absence of ads, but Hulu defeats that purpose. “Hulu has ads until you pay a certain price. There is no reason to pay if there are still going to be ads,” said Melda Kayatekin ’25. 

Odds are, if you ask a Bronx Science student which streaming service they want to use at the moment, they won’t say Hulu.

  • Diversity of Content: 3/10
  • Quality of Original Content: 2/10
  • User Interface: 3/10
  • Overall Score: 3/10
  • Stand-Out Content: ‘The Great,’ ‘Only Murders in the Building,’ ‘The Bear,’ and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’
According to Enterprise Apps Today, Amazon Prime Video is the second-largest video-on-demand streaming service. (Susan Cohen)

4. Amazon Prime Video

Although Amazon Prime Video may be one of the least popular services compared to the others on this list, it has many underrated features. While watching any show or movie on Amazon Prime Video, viewers can simply pause and learn about all cast members in the scene through their “X-RAY” feature. Audiences also have access to exclusive behind-the-scenes information and “Dialogue Boost,” a feature that grants the ability to adjust volume levels in scenes. 

The major flaw of Amazon Prime Video is its inability to stand out or establish a brand. “Amazon Prime doesn’t have a very good UI [user interface] or really good original content, aside from ‘Invincible’ and ‘The Boys.’ It’s sort of just there, and it doesn’t have many good options that don’t require extra payment,” said Avery Schrag ’26. 

Amazon Prime video is a perfectly serviceable streaming service with a few hit shows, but not much else. 

  • Diversity of Content: 4/10
  • Quality of Original Content: 5/10
  • User Interface: 3/10
  • Overall Score: 4/10
  • Stand-Out Content: ‘Fleabag,’ ‘Invincible,’ ‘The Boys,’ ‘Jack Ryan,’ and ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’
Over half of Max subscribers (46.8 million) are from the U.S., as there are 73.8 million Max subscribers worldwide. (Susan Cohen)

3. Max (formerly known as HBO Max)

Max, formerly known as HBO Max, HBO GO, and HBO, releases consistently amazing original shows, however its broader collection of content is quite lackluster. Some stand-outs are the entire ‘Harry Potter’ film franchise and the iconic sitcom, ‘Friends,’ but the majority of movies in their library are unknown. Box office flops and outdated series go to Max, contributing to its content collection but not necessarily enhancing it enough to make Max rank higher among its users. Max’s main specialty is television, and their original content truly stands out from other streaming services. 

“[Max] has ‘Game of Thrones,’ the best show ever which nobody in this school watches, ‘House of the Dragon,’ ‘Succession,’ ‘The Sopranos,’ and movies like ‘The Menu’ and ‘The Batman,’” said James Li ’26. 

The formatting of Max makes it difficult to navigate and choose which content to watch. Content is categorized by almost random criteria that does little to aid consumers, such as “Don’t Skip the Intro” and “Visually Stunning.” Yes, those are real categories. 

Max undoubtedly has the potential to be the best streaming service, but first, it has to figure out once and for all what its name is.

  • Diversity of Content: 7/10
  • Quality of Original Content: 9/10
  • User Interface: 5/10
  • Overall Score: 7/10
  • Stand-Out Content: ‘The Last of Us,’ ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘House of the Dragon,’ ‘Succession,’ ‘Harry Potter’ film franchise, ‘Friends,’ ‘The Batman,’ and ‘The Sopranos’
Despite Disney’s initial expectations of 60-90 million subscribers for 2024, Disney Plus currently has 100 million subscribers. (Susan Cohen)

2. Disney Plus

Nostalgia-bait or not, Disney Plus serves as a safe streaming service to entertain people of all ages. Disney Plus has an impressive catalog of all Disney owned properties, such as Disney Animated Studios, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel and National Geographic. Unlike the other streaming services on this list, Disney Plus’s seemingly limitless range of content caters to a wide range of audiences.

“Even if I don’t have something I want to watch in particular I can go to Disney Plus and rediscover a movie that I used to watch when I was younger. I enjoy the nostalgia of that experience,” said Caroline Ferrell ’26. 

Disney Plus is the perfect streaming service if you and your family want something playing in the background. Even without considering its audience with a broad age range, it is very enjoyable to experience the nostalgia from Disney classics. 

The main goal for streaming services is to keep audiences engaged, and Disney Plus achieves just that.

  • Diversity of Content: 9/10
  • Quality of Original Content: 7/10
  • User Interface: 8/10
  • Overall Score: 8/10
  • Stand-Out Content: ‘The Mandalorian,’ ‘Wandavision,’ The ‘Spider-Man’ trilogy, The MCU franchise, The Star Wars franchise, and Disney Animated Classics 
Netflix is the most popular streaming service in the world with over 232 million subscribers. It is predicted there will be a 5% increase in subscriptions in the year 2024. (Susan Cohen)

1. Netflix

It is no surprise the streaming service that changed the entertainment industry forever, remains undefeated as the best streaming service. 

Finding something to stream is a breeze while browsing on Netflix. The “Play Something” feature eliminates the pressure of choosing a tv show or movie by randomly shuffling through Netflix’s extensive catalog. 

Not any streaming service can be perfect, as a common critique Netflix receives from its audience is the frequent cancellation of original Netflix content. Shows with lots of potential like, ‘The Society,’ ‘I Am Not Okay With This,’ and ‘1899’ were all canceled after one season, before they had a chance to fully develop a large fan base. 

On the plus side, Netflix’s “Recommended” category is the best at suiting content tailored to the viewer’s preferences for streaming and Netflix is responsible for the creation of the very helpful “Skip Intro” button. Netflix’s recommended category is the best at tailoring content suited to the viewer’s preferences for streaming and it is responsible for the creation of the ever-so helpful “Skip Intro” button.  

When asked to rank the streaming services, Victoria Wee ’25 said, “I ranked Netflix first because it is the most aesthetically pleasing and organized. It’s easier to get a glimpse of a movie or series on Netflix (just takes less steps) and helps me filter what I may want to watch. Since it is organized by category and recommendations [are] based on what I already watched, I don’t have to waste hours trying to pick something.”  

Considering its diverse original content and more than comprehensible user interface, Bronx Science users ranked Netflix the top streaming service. 

  • Diversity of Content: 8/10
  • Quality of Original Content: 9/10
  • User Interface: 10/10
  • Overall Score: 9/10
  • Stand-Out Content: ‘Stranger Things,’ ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘Squid Game,’ ‘Queen’s Gambit,’ ‘The Umbrella Academy,’ ‘Shadow and Bone,’ ‘Orange Is the New Black,’ and ‘Peaky Blinders’

“Netflix is the one [streaming service] I’ve had for the longest, and it manages to maintain some of my favorite shows,” said Katharine Kent ’25.