Mervyn Davids

Mervyn Davids

Posted on 01 June 2023

Streaming Services: The Good, The Bad, and the Annoying

Cable TV has largely become a thing of the past since streaming services stepped onto the scene, making it cheaper and easier for viewers to find content to enjoy at leisure. From a consumer standpoint, there are plenty of reasons that streaming services are superior to cable: the ease of finding your favorite show, the end of those quick runs to the bathroom during a commercial break, or the availability of hundreds of hours of content to choose from.

But no system is perfect. Streaming services can be expensive, clumsily designed, and cluttered with uninteresting content. We wanted to know: how do Americans really feel about the streaming services that compete for their precious subscription dollars every month? We conducted a survey to find out, and even to see (gasp!) if they feel like cable could still be a better option.

Key Takeaways:

  • Hulu is the streaming service with the most reported technical difficulties
  • 45% of people pay for 3+ streaming services
  • Over 1 in 3 Americans (36%) are more frustrated with streaming services than cable
  • Half of  Americans use a streaming service they don’t pay for

The Most Popular Streaming Service by State

Based on the last 12 months of Google Trends data, streaming service preferences vary across the US. While Netflix remains America’s top streaming service, plenty of people are looking for alternatives for their nightly “Netflix and Chill”.

Interestingly, Paramount+ and Sling TV search volumes both beat out some of the biggest Netflix competitors on the market. In fact, North Dakota was the only state where Hulu was the top searched, and Washington D.C. was the only place Max had the highest search volume. Surprising, considering both of those platforms boast titles such as Game of Thrones, Handmaid’s Tale, and Succession.

HBO Max is going through a rebranding to Max, launched on May 23. Could this be an attempt to earn back that online search volume? Time will tell!

The Best and The Worst of Streaming Services

While the majority of Americans are still opting for streaming over cable, that doesn’t mean there aren’t frustrations with the service. With original content, user experience, and recommendation algorithms, streaming services are constantly competing for your attention. Based on our survey, there are several that clearly came out on top and some have their work cut out for them.

There’s nothing worse than sitting back and enjoying the climax of your favorite show, and then suddenly getting the wheel of death on your screen. Buffering, service timeouts, and other interruptions in service can really put a damper on your screen time and according to our survey, Hulu was the biggest offender in terms of technical difficulties, with 19% of respondents claiming they experience the most technical issues with the service. Hulu was followed by 16% claiming Netflix was the worst and 12% saying Amazon Prime gave them the most trouble.

In terms of providing the best (and worst) original series and movies, Prime Video was the worst of the worst. 18% of people said Prime Video had their least favorite original content, followed closely by Peacock with 17% of the vote. On the opposite end of the spectrum, only 2% of people said HBO had their least favorite original content.

Meanwhile, there’s nothing better than an algorithm built in to recommend your next binge-watching session. A whopping 49% of people said that Netflix gives the best recommendations for new movies and shows. On the opposite end of the spectrum, almost everyone is ignoring Apple TV+, Peacock, and YouTube TV recommendations based on our survey.

Overall, 39% of people said Netflix is still their favorite streaming service, more than twice the number of Hulu, which came in second place with 15% of the vote. Max was a close third place with 14% and less than 10% of people claimed Sling TV, Apple TV+, Paramount+, or Peacock as their favorite streaming service.

Half of Americans Use a Password Service They Don’t Pay For

There is no joy quite like mooching off of your friend’s or parent’s streaming account (or your ex’s–we won’t tell!). And if you do, you’re not alone! According to our survey, one in two people use a streaming service that they don’t pay for. And who could blame them? 45% of people are paying for 3 or more streaming services per month. That can get pricey!

While there’s nothing wrong with being thrifty, those days of password sharing may be on their way out as Netflix cracks down on users who give out their passwords. But we say, enjoy it while you can!

Almost one-third of respondents said that needing multiple streaming services to watch what they like was their main frustration as a customer. It’s no wonder people like to share access and exchange passwords. However, price hikes and having to pay more for limited ads are also pain points for users. Given the combination of rising prices and limited password sharing, streaming services soon might force their users to make difficult decisions about which services stay and which go.

Streaming Services Looking Forward

Online streaming services are certainly not going anywhere, and while there are frustrations, only 36% of people are more frustrated with streaming services than cable. But as the competition for monthly subscriptions heats up, these platforms are going to need to get creative on how they entice users to pick them (choose them, love them). And if you don’t get the Grey’s Anatomy reference, you’ve found your next show to binge-watch!


We surveyed 1,000 Americans in May 2023 to ask questions about their preferences for streaming services. The average age of our respondents was 37. 51% of the participants were female, 46% were male, and 3% identified as non-binary/other. We also used data from Google Trends spanning May 2022-May 2023 to identify the top searched streaming services by state.

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Published on: 2023/06/01