Before I share details on the new updates, I think its useful to talk about the Search limitations and strengths of the three major streaming services:
By providing this comparison you can better appreciate the pluses and minuses of the new Search functionality in Prime. As a consumer of all three services for the past year, and with an uptick in usage since the pandemic began, I can hopefully shed light on some overlooked tips as well.
Pro Tip. If you’re TV has Roku, always start with their search if you’re looking to rent a specific movie: they’ll show all of the streaming services that have it, including Google Play, as well the rental charge for each service.
Pro tip for Hulu. If you’ve scrolled down a bunch in search results and want to get back to the menu at the top, hit the ↩️ back button on your remote.
Hulu Search is “auto-search” as you type. What that means is that as soon as you type the first letter of your search term, such as for the movie Avengers, Hulu immediately lists all of their content beginning with A. This provide you with a chance to discover content you may be unfamiliar with: you can scroll down the list at any time. “Auto-search” also lets you see immediately if you mistyped your search term, which is helpful for long titles or actor names.
If you search by the full name of an actor, Hulu will highlight which of the search results actually has the actor in it: the results without “Cast: Jennifer Lawrence” under it are suggestions of similar films you may like.
Overall impression of Hulu. Their selection of TV shows pales in comparison to Netflix and Prime. Worth watching for Handmaids Tale, Devs and The Great, but you could binge watch all their new shows in a month, cancel your subscription and then resubscribe in six months and repeat binge watching. Movies worth watching are also limited compared to Prime or even Netflix.
Let’s just get it out there: Netflix Search is the worst. It does have “auto-search” as you type, like Hulu. And it provides search suggestions as you type like YouTube. However, a search for “Jennifer Lawrence” returns a list of movie posters, requiring you to click on each one to find out if she is even in it. If they have zero films with an actor searched, you won’t know it until you’ve clicked on all the films.
Overall impression of Netflix. They spend a ton of money on original TV shows and movies. Bird Box with Sandra Bullock is a must watch movie, for example, as well as the quirky action film Bright with Will Smith. Netflix original tv shows are too numerous to mention but include Tiger King, Ozark and my new favorite, The Witcher. The downside is that their selection of non-Netflix produced movies feels ever shrinking.
Prime did not have “auto-search” as you type. Type “Jnnifer Lawrence” and then press the search button before realizing your error. Like Netflix, you had to click on each search result to see if your actor was in the film.
Prime after the Update
You win some you lose some. Like Netflix, Prime’s Search now has “auto-search” as you type and it provides search suggestions as you type. However, they no longer list the cast when you click on a search result so you have no idea if your searched actor is in it.
Overall impression of Prime. Best catalog hands down of included movies. Rental fees for premium movies is usually under five bucks. Prime original TV shows are subjectively better than Hulu or Netflix: Fleabag, The Man in The High Castle, Homecoming, Tales from the Loop, Upload. I’m disappointed in the loss of cast listings with Search, but overall its still the best service.