Netflix vs Amazon Prime vs Hotstar: Which is the best streaming service in India

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Even in the United States where the internet infrastructure has been quite developed for decades, Netflix seemed like an odd-investment as it evolved into an online streaming service.

Thanks to the boost in network connectivity all over the world and the crazy of binge-watching TV shows and movies from the comfort of your home, online streaming services are the future of modern home entertainment.

Netflix may have started out on the top, but the retail giant Amazon soon caught up with its very own Prime Video streaming service. Both of the established brands are fighting over supremacy in not just North America, but high-density markets like India. However, the competition from Hotstar, the regional king of the streaming scene is not going unnoticed either.

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Netflix vs Amazon Prime vs Hotstar

We’ve put all three of these leading streaming services in India to the test, giving you a better idea of where your hard-earned money is well spent.

Content Library – Movies

Starting off with international movies from Hollywood and a massive range of European hits, all three streaming services maintain a respectable collection.

Since there is no calculable way to find out which streaming service has the best movies, we took the help of IMDB to find the top 50 movies and see which of the three services has the most.

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Netflix hit the top of the list with all of the popular titles like The Godfather series, Schindler’s List, and American Psycho, all of which were missing from Amazon Prime Video and Hotstar.

But when it comes to the latest movie titles, Amazon Prime Video hit the home run with new titles like Spider-Man: Homecoming and the entire Harry Potter franchise, while Hotstar fard well with almost all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies and more.

Netflix even has a vast collection of Hindi movies as well so you wouldn’t have to be worried about having to watch only Hollywood movies.

Winner: Netflix

Related: Best Kids movies on Google Play

Content Library – TV Shows

When it comes harboring TV shows that you can watch back to back for hours, both Netflix and Amazon hold a wide range of offerings.

They do have some overlapping series like Shameless which is available on both the platforms, there are plenty of interesting choices like The Office series that is exclusive to Amazon, while Breaking Bad, That 70s Show and Gossip Girl is Netflix-exclusive offerings.

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Hotstar on the other hand takes a completely different approach by distributing TV shows based on the channels, with HBO for shows like Game of Thrones, and Star World for How I Met Your Mother and dozens more.

At the end when it comes down to the number of TV shows they offer, Netflix once again takes home the trophy thanks to the sheer quantity as well as the quality of content.

If you want some of the best Indian TV shows, then you’d have to turn to Hotstar since you could practically watch ‘Indian TV’on your smartphone with Hotstar.

Winner: Netflix and Hotstar

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Regional content

Unlike most regions that online streaming services cater to, India is a whole lot more diverse, with more than 100 languages and dialects spoken across the nation.

Netflix starts off on the right foot by partnering up with some Indian production houses to get popular titles rolling, but it’s nothing special considering that the company has only now begun to look at the potential of Indian regional content.

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Amazon Prime Video has overtaken Netflix in this department by harboring not just Hindi movies and a handful of TV shows, but spread across the Tamil, Telegu, Marathi and Bengali audience as well. The movie titles are limited across the dialects, but the list is frequently being updated.

Since Amazon plans to invest heavily in its service for the Indian market, you can expect more regional premium content directly from Amazon to come soon.

Being the regional streaming service, Hotstar takes away the winning prize with a movie collection spanning across more than 600 Hindi, 200 Bengali, 400 Telegu, 850 Malayalam, 100 Tamil, and 400 Kannada movies.

Since it follows a cable TV streaming style of delivering content, you get a total of 20+ channels, each of which offers dozens of TV shows, so the total easily beats the other foreign competitors.

Winner: Hotstar

Related: Watch US TV Shows and Movies with Netflix India subscription

Playback performance

For those who have been tormented by the endless cycle of buffering when watching online content, performance can be a deciding factor. When taking a closer look at playback quality, Netflix hits all the right spots by launching videos right away and offering the least amount of buffering period.

The playback options are perfect for those on a restricted data plan, as the app stops feeding of the data once you exit the app, without losing the scene where you paused the stream.

Amazon Prime Video cuts in a close second as it offers automatic streaming quality detection, unlike Netflix which lets you choose the quality (which may be even better in some cases).

What makes this streaming service more enjoyable is the X-ray feature, which offers an overlay window, giving you insights like the characters in the current scene and the IMDB rating of the movie or TV show you’re watching.

Hotstar offers a range of decent playback options on the big screen, but the mobile app still needs to be worked on. The auto-frame adjustment feature is a bit off, and while the controls help keep things simple, the biggest pain point is the fact that content streaming on mobile devices is limited to 720p HD resolution, compared to the Full-HD 1080p playback that Netflix and Amazon Prime Video apps support.

Winner: Netflix

Original content

When it comes to exclusivity, online streaming services are competing head-to-head to get ahead with unique and original TV shows and movies to get ahead in the game.

With a move to invest more than $8 Billion in the year 2018 alone on more than 700 original TV shows and movies, Netflix Original series like Stranger Things, Narcos, Orange Is the New Black and dozens of others have already shaken the entertainment industry.

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Netflix and Amazon Prime Video both are now creating equally impressive original series for India itself. Netflix’s Sacred Games and Ghoul have gathered a massive fan following in the country while Amazon Prime Video’s Mirzapur is equally as good and some claim is even better than Netflix’s Sacred Games.

Hotstar, on the other hand, has less than a dozen original TV shows on its roster, all of which are in the Hindi language.

Winner: Netflix

Sports coverage

Indians love their sports and there’s no way they would be able to truly embrace an online streaming service if it doesn’t offer cricket. Netflix has introduced American Football and NBA matches in the United States, but there has been no effort made to introduce sports streaming to India.

Similarly, Amazon Prime Video also shows up empty-handed when it comes to media sports streaming. However, the company is in talks to take over the official streaming rights for the Indian Premier League (IPL), so this could change very soon.

In this category, Hotstar leaves the rest of the two in the dust with larger than life coverage of sports shows from across the world. From offering live sports matches directly on the big screen or on the go, you even get a list of curated games and highlight reels from the most enthralling moments in the game.

Winner: Hotstar  

Offline viewing

While this may only be a novelty feature for some, in a region where widespread unlimited network connectivity is not yet rampant, Indian viewers love the ability to view content offline.

Netflix and Amazon go toe to toe when it comes to offering downloadable content from their movies and TV shows library.

Previously, Hotstar only allowed users to download regional content and for all of the premium Hotstar content that includes all of the English movies and TV shows, you had to have an active and stable internet connection to enjoy the content.

Fortunately, after a recent update, the app now lets you download most of the premium content as well such as GOT episodes etc.

Winners: Netflix and Amazon Prime Video

Pricing options

Getting down to business, Netflix has all the attraction of what American pop culture has to offer, but the deal isn’t cheap at all. Starting off at ₹500 just for the Standard plan and going all the way up to ₹800 for the Premium subscription plan for Ultra HD content, it is by far the most expensive online streaming service in India.

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With Amazon Prime Video, you get a price point of ₹999 per year, which was just ₹499 last year, and that’s not the end. The Amazon Prime Video yearly subscription is a part of the Amazon Prime membership, which also entitles you to Prime Shipping on the Amazon India website. Furthermore, the company has also added Amazon Music service to the fold, so now you get three premium services from Amazon for a year at just ₹999.

Hotstar is giving both these streaming services a run for their money, with a premium price plan of just ₹199 per month. If the fact that you can get thousands of movies and TV shows each month for less than the price of a coffee wasn’t impressive enough, Hotstar has added all of its regional content for free, so you can watch the best content without even signing up for the premium account.

Winners: Amazon Prime Video and Hotstar

Related: Android apps that let you watch TV shows and Movies for free

Useful features

Given the immense popularity of Netflix, we’ve got a bunch of great features such as Profiles which allow you to create separate profiles for all those who share your Netflix account. You could also turn off and on notifications from within the application and can pick the video quality for streaming as well as downloading.

There are also a bunch of Netflix chrome extensions which help make your Netflix binge-watching life easier.

Amazon Prime Video has a cool feature called X-Ray which lets you view IMDb data about the actors in the movie/series, songs, and trivia related to the movie/series as well. Hotstart; however, does not have any fancy features to offer.

Winners: Netflix and Amazon Prime Video

Wrapping it up

As the world moves closer to a cable-free entertainment era, services like Netflix and Amazon Prime are going to be at the forefront with their billions of dollars in financial backing. However, regional services like Hotstar have shown that the online entertainment industry cannot be dominated solely by the big names.

We’re not going to force any particular streaming service down your throat since every user has their own sense of what the perfect streaming service should be like.

However, we’ve broken down Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hotstar based on their weak points and winning attributes, so you can choose the best streaming service in an informed manner.

All three streaming services offer a bunch of great TV shows to watch as well as a few great movies; however, you’d have you pick your own poison since all three offer some great shows and movies to keep you hooked on.

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Sharing a love-hate relationship with Biotechnology in college, Husain moved on to his true calling of being a tech geek through and through. While briefly being persuaded by the iPhone, he made it back to the Android camp with the OnePlus One and has been a loyal comrade since.