Streaming Platforms: A Comparison
Streaming platforms are a godsend and I dare say, one of the best innovations of modern technology. Gone are the days when watching our favourite shows were limited to 1-hour timeslot at fixed timing and aired on television. These days with a simple touch of a button, we can access a large database of shows all on a singular mobile or desktop application.
Being university students on a tight budget and only enough to commit to a singular platform, we might be overwhelmed by the overabundance of streaming platforms available in the market. Adding on to that, there has been news of Netflix planning to implement revisions to their platform policies, such as the possibility of advertisement inclusion or implementing restrictions to account sharing. This has made consumers question if Netflix remains the truly superior platform or if they should jump ship to other streaming services.
Whether you’re contemplating subscribing to a potential platform or pondering swapping to other alternatives, here’s a comprehensive breakdown of five different streaming platforms available in the market to determine which is a bang for your buck!
Netflix: The Veteran OG
When you think about streaming platforms, Netflix instantly comes to mind. Netflix has been a staple in creating and providing pop culture references, memes, and entertainment to the masses. That being said, there have been a substantial number of other streaming platforms popping up within the market, disrupting the monopoly that Netflix previously enjoyed.
Despite this, here’s one thing that Netflix boasts as its selling point – diversity in original content. By diversity, I don’t simply refer to the fact that Netflix has churned out shows that have allowed for increased visibility on social issues such as LGBTQ+ identities or even mental health concerns. Rather, diversity in content refers to the fact that Netflix has rolled out content ranging from original series, films, documentaries, reality shows and even interactive specials.
The platform has released several well-received original series such as Stranger Things (2016 - present), The Umbrella Academy (2019 - present) and Bridgerton (2020 - present). Films such as Don’t Look Up, with a star-studded cast of Hollywood royalty Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence and more have joined Netflix’s ever-growing library. Subscribers can also gain access to thought-provoking documentaries such as The Social Dilemma (2020) and Don’t Fck with Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer (2019).
In addition to the above, Netflix offers binge-worthy original reality shows such as Single’s Inferno (2021), Selling Sunset (2019 - present), and Bling Empire (2021 - present), and even an immersive interactive special; Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch (2018) which incorporates a choose your own adventure style experience.
Aside from series and film production, they have also dived into game production in attempts to change up the formula to what a streaming platform is able to offer. These games are completely free for Netflix subscribers. If you are a Stranger Things fan, be sure to check out Stranger Things: 1984 or Stranger Things 3: The Game, both of which are set in the fictional universe of Hawkins!
Given the increased competition from other platforms, Netflix has mentioned how they are intending to place its focus on creating shows with an emphasis on quality. Good news to Netflix fans out there as fan favourite shows or shows that do well during the screen testing would be getting a major boost in budget and subsequently fine-tuned detail!
Pricing and Useability
Narrowing down on the platform’s useability, Netflix commands an easy-to-use interface, streamlined user recommendations and downloadable content in 1080p. In terms of pricing, the cheapest base monthly subscription fee for Netflix would be SGD$12.98 for a single stream while the highest tier would be SGD$21.98 which allows simultaneous viewing up to four screens at a time, and access to Ultra HD (4k) videos. If you’re afraid of committing too soon, Netflix provides a free trial for 30 days for you to play around and explore the various services it offers!
Though I’ve been raving about Netflix heavily, a word of caution is that there is a slight downside to the platform. Aside from Netflix Originals, the service previously aired popular shows such as Friends and Modern Family only to have them phased out of the platform. This is largely due to Netflix only being able to withhold streaming rights to these shows for a licensed period.
Disney+: The New Kid on the Block
Growing up, I’m certain that those of us who were fortunate enough to have cable television had access to Disney Channel or at the very least been able to catch one of the many Pixar or Marvel films in cinemas. Disney made the executive decision to change up its media practices and entered the streaming market, with Disney+ making a strong roaring debut on the streaming scene locally back in February 2021.
The streaming platform came in hot carrying titles from iconic film brands such as Pixar, Marvel, Disney, Star Wars, National Geographic, and Star, which is an entertainment brand with content targeted at young adults and families. At the time of its debut, Disney+ contained a large database of over 500 movies and 15,000 episodes, thus making it the perfect streaming platform with something for everyone.
Relive your childhood days with classics from Pixar such as Toy Story (1995) or the latest instalment, Toy Story 4 (2019). There’s also the 2009 movie, Up, which tugged the heartstrings of viewers worldwide. If you’re up for something more educational, there are various documentaries like The World According to Jeff Goldblum (2019 – present) available.
One of the strong selling points about Disney+ would be that you are able to stream Marvel movies aired on the silver screen to your streaming devices soon after the movie’s theatrical release. For instance, the recent Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) debuted in theatres worldwide on May 9 and will shortly be available for streaming from June 22 onwards.
Furthermore, with Marvel’s strong line-up of Television series such as Ms. Marvel (2022), She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (2022) coupled with the expansion of the Star Wars franchise, Disney+ will no doubt provide consistent, fresh, and exciting content to viewers in the months to come!
Pricing and Useability
Unlike the other streaming platforms on this list, Disney+ does not offer a trial period for you to dip your toes into the Disney experience, but fret not! The subscription is monthly based and should you feel that you’re not willing to commit in the long run, you could always opt-out from the subscription. Similar to Netflix, a singular subscription of SGD$11.98 entitles you to four concurrent streams. An additional bonus that sets Disney+ has a Group watch feature, allowing everyone to watch their favourite shows or movies in real-time together with their family and friends!
HBO Go/HBO Max: The Go-to for Maximum Entertainment
The Home Box Office (HBO) channel has been a staple of many television bundles for cable television. The network has adapted to the modern setting and decided to offer a streaming service, HBO Go/HBO Max to the masses. (At the time of writing this article, HBO Max has yet to be released in Singapore. HBO Go is partially active, and HBO Max would be its eventual successor).
The streaming service offers access to a wide array of blockbuster franchises, adrenaline, and action-packed movies all of which are under Warner Bros studio. For DC fans, HBO Go is the prime destination to head to for streaming content as the entire DCEU (DC Extended Universe) lineup, from live-action movies, Zach Snyder’s Justice League (2021) which was aired exclusively on the streaming platform to television series such as Peacemaker (2022), starring John Cena can be found there.
Should superhero movies not suit your fancy, there are other options such as immersing yourself in the magical Wizarding World as HBO Go has all eight Harry Potter (2001 - 2011) movies available, including the Fantastic Beasts (2016 - present) spin-off. Additionally, the platform offers other HBO Original shows such as the fantasy drama, Game of Thrones (2011-2019) or even Westworld (2016 – present) whose third season featured scenes shot locally in Singapore.
Pricing and Useability
Being able to access such a strong lineup of content does not come cheap. Though you have access to three concurrent streams with the subscription, your downloads are limited to 20 shows and you’re not able to access the platform outside of Singapore.
HBO Go is tagged with a hefty price point of SGD$13.98 per month with a slight discount if you opt for the 3-month subscription plan which sets you back at SGD$29.98. On that note, HBO Go is free for viewers if you are subscribed to the HBO bundles with Singtel or Starhub and there is a free 7-day trial available too!
Prime Video: The Prime Alternative
Back in 2016, Amazon, the famed multinational technology company known for e-commerce, decided to venture out into streaming services and re-branded its existing video-on-demand service.
Cut to 2022, Prime Video has released several well-known shows such as The Boys (2019 - present), a black-comedy drama superhero series. It is currently in its third season and the success of the show has spawned two spin-off titles. There’s also Upload (2020 - present), a science-fiction comedy-drama, starring Robbie Amell, set in a futuristic world where humans have the choice to upload their consciousness into the virtual afterlife of their choosing.
If live-action series don’t necessarily appeal to you, there’s also Invincible, an adult superhero animated TV series inspired by the comic of the same name. Alongside a growing library of top-notch Prime Originals, Prime Video does offer classic American television shows such as the full 15-seasons of CSI: Crime Series Investigation (2000 - 2015) and famed comedy sitcoms like The Office (2005 - 2013).
Pricing and Useability
Though Prime Video commands a relatively smaller pool of shows compared to Netflix and Disney+, the subscription provides lots of benefits at an alarmingly lower price of SGD$2.99 compared to the other shows on this list. If you do frequent online shopping over on Amazon, a Prime subscription will grant you free two-hour shipping for purchases over SGD$40 and free international shipping for orders over SGD$60.
In terms of the user interface, Prime Video does appear to be simple and clear-cut. The service allows for 3 concurrent streams (up to 2 simultaneous streams of the same show) with a single subscription and the majority of the content present is available for viewing. On top of this, Prime Video does grant a free 30-day trial for potential users to try things out.
Viu: The Asian Netflix
Whether you’re thinking of switching to a different show genre after consuming too much western media or you’re a die-hard fan of Korean drama, Viu is the perfect platform for all shows produced in Asia. Some have even dubbed the platform as the “Asian equivalent of Netflix,” and for good reasons as well!
Think Running Man (2010 - present), Hotel Del Luna (2019), Lovers of the Red Sky (2021) or even your favourite Japanese Anime, Hunter X Hunter (2011 - 2014), Attack on Titan (2013 - present), all these titles are readily available to stream with ease on Viu. Alongside these titles, the streaming site is filled with a wide variety of Asian shows hailing from South Korea, Hong Kong and even Thailand, no doubt making Viu a compelling service to consider subscribing to.
The major selling point of Viu as a streaming platform would be that the beginner tier of subscription is drumroll completely free! Though there is a slight catch and trade-off to this, streams are limited to 480p in resolution and the latest dramas are only available up to 72 hours after the show’s original air timing.
On the flip side, Viu does offer a premium option priced at SGD$7.98 per month, which must be paid for after a free 30-day trial. For subscribers of Viu Premium, the latest dramas and shows are free to stream within 8 hours of the original airing a huge reduction in wait time imposed compared to the beginner tier.
Another positive plus point to choosing Viu as a streaming platform would be that it does extend Viu Premium - Student plan at a whopping cost of SGD$3.98 (subject to submission of Student ID), premium access grants the user unlimited downloads, thus avoiding the need for extra data spent streaming!
If you do access Viu with a beginner’s subscription, do note that there are advertisements to be played mid-way throughout your streams. Advertisements no doubt have a huge impact on the streaming experience and might seem disruptive almost. Imagine when you’re watching a heart-wrenching scene of your favourite character making a worthy sacrifice for the greater good, only to be interrupted by a random jingle promoting some household products or services.
Nonetheless, if you are on a tight budget, planning to opt for the free tier and are willing to brave some advertisements, Viu is an application you need to download on your device(s)!
With the wide array of streaming platforms available, consumers like us are spoiled for choice. Though there are certain services such as Netflix and Disney+ that can command a larger database of content, other platforms are attempting to find their footing against the giants, bearing their own merits.
The list shared above is non-exhaustive and there are plenty of other streaming platforms such as Apple TV that I did not manage to share. Do take advantage of the free trials available to determine if the streaming platform suits your viewing preference, there’s something for everyone out there! For anyone planning to subscribe to a streaming service, I would urge you to do some research if you’re the cautious type and to help give you a head start, here’s a table compiling the information shared above.
Subscription Type & Pricing (Monthly)
No. of Concurrent Streams
Type of Content
Standard Tier: SGD$12.98
Premium Tier: SGD$21.98
Countless Netflix Originals
Standard Tier: SGD$11.98
Disney, Marvel, Pixar, Star Movies
HBO Go/HBO Max
Warner Bros; DC, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones
Prime Originals, Older American shows
Standard Tier: Free
Korean, Hong Kong, Thai Dramas and Variety Shows
The subscription options for the premium tier of most streaming platforms do allow for you to pool the cost together with family and friends, sharing reduces the financial burden on each user. If you’d like some Netflix recommendations, check out our past articles highlighting some of the hottest shows that are a must-see! Have a great summer everyone!