Netflix Vs HBO Go: Battle Of the Subscription Networks

House of CardsNetflix

Looks like prisons and politics are a lot more profitable than they first appeared. After spending the last few years battling to see whether Netflix or HBO was truly the superior subscription TV network, the Internet has finally triumphed in terms of subscriber revenue. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings revealed in a Facebook post on Thursday that the online streaming service made $1.146 billion dollars in the last quarter, finishing just ahead of HBO’s $1.141 billion earnings. Though he acknowledged that Netflix still had a long way to go before it could surpass the cable giant in terms of overall profits and awards recognition, it was still an important victory for the little guy… if the little guy is also a billion dollar business. In order to determine just how close this David is to overtaking the prestige drama Goliath, we decided to pit the two networks against each other to determine once and for all, whether HBO really is better than Netflix. 

Number of Subscribers:
Netflix has been coming out on top in this category for some time now, having reached 50 million subscribers from the United States in July of 2014. The latest numbers for HBO, which were released back in January of this year, revealed a smaller total of 29 million. Of course, the large discrepancies in the numbers could be because all of those people “borrowing” HBOGO aren’t actually eligible  be counted.
Winner: Netflix

Original Programming:
Despite breaking into the field of original programming only recently, Netflix has amassed a library of 31 titles that are currently available to stream, including original series, documentaries, specials and one-off seasons of hit shows like Arrested Development  and The Killing. And though HBO only has 24 original series currently airing, it does have an incredible back-catalog of 111 programs, including specials and miniseries that were created specifically for the channel. Granted, they started producing original content in the ‘90s and Netflix was only founded in 2007, so it wasn’t really a fair fight.
Winner: HBO

2014 Emmy Nominations:
With two of the most talked about series in recent years – House of Cards and Orange is the New Black – both eligible for awards this year, Netflix came away with a respectable 31 nods, which was more than many established cable and network channels got. Still, it couldn’t come close to the whopping 99 nominations that HBO pulled in, likely due to one-two punch of Game of Thrones  and True Detective. And Veep. And Girls. And… well, basically everything it’s currently airing.
Winner: HBO

Game of ThronesHBO

Movies Offered On Demand:
In addition the many films and TV show scheduled to run during the day on its various channels, HBO offers over 70 films available to watch anytime, On Demand. However, since Netflix was built for that exact purpose, they have a library of over 6,000 films to choose from on Netflix Instant. Sure, for every Oscar winner of cult favorite there are six more crappy, B-movies in which a random household object some to life and goes on a murderous rampage, but that’s what you get with over 85 times as many options.
Winner: Netflix

Subscription Costs:
Because it comes as a cable package that depends on what options you choose and how much your service provider charges, it’s hard to get a proper reading on the cost of HBO, although for just the channel, with no extras or Internet, it’s generally somewhere between $15 and $20 a month. That is, if you can actually get the channel by itself. Though Netflix has recently raised their prices, it only costs $8.99 for a streaming subscription, plus an additional $8.99 if you’d like DVDs delivered to your house as well. Let’s be real, though: neither one costs you anything because you’re just going to use the log in information of your one friend who actually pays for them.
Winner: Nobody, really. They’re equally frustrating processes. 

Buffering and Connection Problems:
Thanks to the millions of people who are just “borrowing” HBOGO from a friend, the service tends to have a lot of problems, specifically during major premieres or finales or any time a major character gets killed on Game of Thrones.  On the plus side, your Twitter timeline likely explodes, dude to the combination of people posting about the shows and complaining about the streams being down, and those people who like to post spoilers just ruin things for everyone. Netflix has had its share of problems as well, and the increased traffic around the premieres of House of Cards  and Orange is the New Black tends to increase buffering time and made things load slowly, but generally, as long as your internet connection is good, so’s Netflix. So it’s all your fault, really.
Winner: Netflix

So who comes out on top? Despite the Emmys and revenue headed towards HBO, it seems to be Netflix that wins in the end. Throw Amazon Prime into the ring, however, and things might change. They have every season of The Wire on demand!