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The News Site of Fresno City College

The Rampage Online

The News Site of Fresno City College

The Rampage Online

The Student’s Guide to Streaming

How to save and spend money on the best platforms.
Photo by: Logan Payne
A staged photo of an open laptop that displays several streaming service logos in the Fresno City College library on January 31, 2024, with a “Friends of The Library” coaster that can be found around each table.

In the modern era, cable TV subscriptions are at an all-time low, with streaming taking over as the primary way to binge. But for a college student, every dollar could be crucial in the long run. That’s why I’ve put together this guide to help decide which streaming services are right for you. While many streaming services are out there, I limited my analysis to eight of the most popular.

Peacock: Ad-Supported ($6/mo) Ad-Free ($12/mo) Student Discount Available

Peacock is the home of nearly every significant live-action NBC show (“The Office,” “Parks and Recreation,” “30 Rock,” etc.) and provides some recent theater releases like “Five Nights at Freddy’s” and “The Exorcist: Believer.” As a whole, though, its selection leaves much to be desired, especially regarding animation and film.

Peacock makes up for a reasonably lackluster library with a much lower price point than its competitors. Students who are over 18 and live in the US can receive a 12-month subscription for only $2/mo. No free trial is available, so if you plan to rewatch “The Office” or anything else, you’ll have to commit to this purchase.

Paramount+: Ad-Supported ($6/mo) Ad-Free ($12/mo) Student Discount Available

Paramount+ is a service with pros and cons similar to Peacock. Instead of NBC, Paramount has a ton of CBS shows to binge (“Star Trek,” “NCIS,” “Criminal Minds,” etc.) Suppose you’re a hardcore fan of Spongebob Squarepants like myself. If that is the case, you can enjoy every single episode on Paramount, including the spin-off show, “Kamp Koral.”

Luckily, students can receive 25% off their subscription bill, and you can even bundle Paramount with Showtime for $9/mo (if you use the 25% student discount.) This bundle comes with live TV access and an ad-free experience.


AppleTV+: Ad-Free ($7/mo) Student Discount Available

AppleTV is a more recent service, and it’s been met with mixed reception. In my opinion, you might be best off skipping this one. The library has lots of original titles, and the quality of some original content is hard to deny (“Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Severance,” “Ted Lasso.”) There is even a vast selection of Peanuts spin-offs you can’t find elsewhere.

The film selection is incredibly bare bones, with only a few coming with the subscription. For most of the films “made available,” you still need to rent or buy the titles to access them. There is a student discount, but it technically applies to Apple Music. If you have a student membership to Apple Music, you will have access to AppleTV as well at a cost of $6/mo. But if you use Spotify, this bundle isn’t very practical.

Prime Video: Ad-Supported ($9/mo) Ad-Free ($12/mo) Student Discount Available

Prime Video is underneath the microscope, and it’s worth noting that this free trial is one of the longest (30 days.) If you decide to sign up for Prime Student, you will get the same video streaming and speedy shipping benefits of Amazon Prime along with a 3-month free trial until the $9 annual fee is in place.

Prime’s original TV shows include “The Boys” and “The Rings of Power,” but there isn’t much beyond that in terms of long-beloved television. Luckily, there are plenty of classics in the film categories. “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once” is available, as well as “Forrest Gump” and “The Green Mile.” But if you compare further, you’ll likely find that Prime’s original content is lackluster enough to invalidate an already random and largely inconsistent selection.

Netflix: Ad-Supported ($7/mo) Ad-Free ($15.50/mo) No Student Discount

Now it’s time for Netflix, the service that started it all. Right off the bat, the Netflix selection has never been better. You can gain access to some of the best streaming exclusives out there (“Black Mirror,” “Bojack Horseman,” “I Think You Should Leave,” etc.) More importantly, you’ll be able to browse some of the most iconic Oscar winners, recent blockbuster hits, and classic sitcoms in a constantly evolving library.

It’s also the only service with original interactive games based on existing IPs. Netflix still needs some improvement, as some popular titles leave as quickly as they arrive. There is no free trial, but I’d still opt for Netflix over AppleTV any day of the week, considering they cost the same.

Max: Ad-Supported ($10/mo) Ad-Free ($16/mo) No Student Discount

Max (formerly HBO MAX) is the up-and-coming people’s champion of the streaming arena, and for good reason. While it is the most expensive service in this article, the sheer quantity and quality of titles make up for the steep sale charge. Max provides expansive content collections, from Studio Ghibli films and Adult Swim shows to (mostly) complete horror franchises like Friday the 13th, Scream, and even the original Godzilla-Monsterverse.

Original content is pretty consistent, with shows like “The Last of Us,” “Barry,” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” earning critical acclaim. It’s got a great list of renowned Hollywood classics and foreign films to keep me busy, so for this consumer, Max is the last stop for any cinephile.

Disney+: Ad-Supported ($8/mo) Ad-Free ($14/mo) No Student Discount

Disney+ has a library that’s garnered more popularity as it’s gotten older. At first, it was tailored primarily towards animation and Star Wars fanatics. While it still focuses on those fanbases, there is much more to offer than you’d think.

It’s the only place where you can binge the complete Marvel Cinematic Universe, and a sea of nature programs/documentaries through a partnership with National Geographic. Most of what you’ll find is produced through Disney, but there are some outliers to that standard (“The Sandlot,” “Avatar,” “The Simpsons,” etc.) As a whole though, there isn’t a whole lot of variety.

Hulu: Ad-Supported ($8/mo) Ad-Free ($18/mo) Student Discount Available

Hulu has always advertised itself as the best place to watch TV. It even had a slogan back in 2015 that read, “Come TV with us.” For a long time, Hulu was strictly known for its selection of iconic live-action and animated shows (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Family Guy,” “King of the Hill,” etc.) But it has since evolved and built a unique voice with award-winning shows like “The Bear” and “Letterkenny.” And for students, you can subscribe to the ad-supported plan for just $2/mo.

Hulu’s films aren’t the best, but it has an impressive horror catalog, filling in the missing final piece of the Disney+/Hulu/ESPN bundle. With this bundle, all three services come with ads for just $15/mo. I saved Disney and Hulu for last to highlight this bundle, which provides the best of both worlds and is arguably the most cost-effective way to stream.

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About the Contributor
Logan Payne
Logan Payne, Reporter
Logan Payne joins us this semester as an eager reporter, excited to make his mark. Standing tall at 6’5”, Logan makes quite the first impression with his colorful Crocs and signature Seinfeld pants. Don’t be fooled by his fashion though, this reporter is resilient and juggles the many responsibilities that come with five classes and employment at Maya Cinemas. Before joining The Rampage, Logan was involved with the Roosevelt Theater Company for four years where he wrote, directed, acted, and worked backstage for many productions. He’s also a certified linguist who has always loved to read and write stories. Logan has grown very familiar with the cutting room; hours slip away when he video edits due to his perpetual perfectionism. He is well-versed in the art of film and knows that every frame shown and every note heard makes a key difference in the bigger picture. This isn’t his first time in a newsroom either; he’s put together many news packages for Roosevelt High and CART projects over the years and is more than comfortable with conducting an interview or being the handyman on set. Logan can’t work on anything without being meticulous, and this eye for detail makes him a wonderful asset to the team. This is Logan’s second semester as a journalism major here at Fresno City College, and he likes to spend his time on campus productively. When he’s not in class, he’s in the library catching up on schoolwork or building a narrative with his team in The Rampage office.

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