To see how we calculated these scores, you can find a full explanation of our methodology here.
What we like about Netflix
Large library of original and licensed content
Easy to navigate
Smooth and reliable streams
Things to consider
Can get pricey if ads are an issue for you
Originals aren’t as highly rated by critics and users
No free trial period
Netflix review summary:
- Standard with Ads: $6.99/mo. for Standard Definition resolution, with ads, streaming on 2 devices
- Standard: $15.49/mo. for Standard Definition resolution, no ads, streaming on 2 devices
- Premium: $22.99/mo. for Premium 4K Ultra HD resolution, no ads, streaming on 4 devices
- No contracts; free cancellation at anytime
- Ads on one plan only, the Standard with Ads
- Select titles available to download for offline viewing
From the moment Netflix launched the streaming arm of its DVD-rental-by-mail business, it’s been the face of streaming services. No service has more subscribers, spends more on its library or wins more awards. It’s been a part of most people’s lives for so long that we hardly question whether the cost is still worth it.
The result of our Netflix review? It’s still the best streaming service for most people, even if it is a bit more expensive than others.
Netflix is one of the most popular streaming services for a reason: It has a great mix of original and licensed content, and its technology is in a class of its own.
Netflix streaming plans and pricing
|Standard with Ads
|SD 1080 p
|4K + HDR
Netflix has three plans to choose from, three of which come without commercials. The difference between the plans is picture quality. You’ll only get SD 1080 pixels on the Standard with Ads plan and Premium comes with 4K + HDR.
For comparison, Prime Video includes 4K streaming at no extra charge, while Hulu and HBO NOW don’t have any 4K content yet. If you’ve recently purchased a new 4K TV, it might be worth upgrading to Netflix’s top plan to take advantage of its extensive 4K library.
Is there a Netflix student discount?
Unfortunately, Netflix doesn’t currently offer any discounts for students. If you’re a full-time student looking to save some money, we collected some of our favorite student discounts here.
Does Netflix still have DVD plans?
Unfortunately, Netflix discontinued mailing DVDs in 2023.
How does Netflix’s content compare?
To gauge Netflix’s library compared to other major TV streaming services, we broke our evaluation into two categories: licensed content and original programming. For the shows and movies Netflix purchases instead of producing themselves, we focused on the total number available and how much people actually like them. For that, we used IMDb’s lists of the top 250 TV shows and movies, which combine user ratings and popularity to determine its rankings. We counted how many titles each streaming service had in both lists.
For original content, we collected a handful of metrics for every original title produced by Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, MAX, Disney+, SHOWTIME, STARZ and Apple TV+.
We collected audience reviews from IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes and critic ratings from Rotten Tomatoes, then looked at how many nominations and wins each service has from the Emmys, Golden Globes and Oscars. This gave us a good idea of the overall quality of each service’s originals.
For a more in-depth explanation of how we evaluated streaming services, you can read our full streaming review methodology
*According to data from JustWatch.com (05/05/23)
Netflix has one of the largest libraries of any streaming service, with more than 5,000 combined TV shows and movies. That’s still only about 20% the size of Prime Video’s library, but evidence suggests that Netflix actually has more of the stuff that people want to watch.
Of IMDb’s top 250 movies, Netflix has 26 movies in its collection — more than any of the other major services.
|Number of Titles
|Average IMDb user ratings
|Tomatometer Critic Score
Data accurate as of 04/27/20
When it comes to original content, Netflix produces a lot more than its competitors, but it isn’t always of the highest quality. It has nearly 1,200 original titles, while second-place HBO NOW has only 521 — and it has about a 20-year head start on Netflix.
Netflix clearly prescribes to the “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” approach. That means the average critic and audience reactions to their shows tend to be a little more negative than they are to other services.
That said, because Netflix produces so much content overall, it does have a lot of hits. Titles like Tiger King, The Crown and The Irishman have all been enormously popular with viewers and critics alike. Netflix’s originals have earned more awards recognition than any streaming service other than HBO NOW, which isn’t really a pure streaming service.
|Emmy Nominees (2013-2019)
|Emmy Wins (2013-2019)
|Oscar Nominees (2014-2020)
|Oscar Wins (2014-2019)
The HBO channel has twice as many Emmys as Netflix, but it’s a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison. HBO has always been a premium network first. That said, if prestige television is your top priority, you’ll probably be happier with a subscription to Max (formerly HBO Max).
Above-average user experience
While it has a few frustrating quirks, we think Netflix is as intuitive and easy-to-use as any streaming service out there. Its layout is intuitive to navigate, you can pick up where you left off with a couple clicks and saving titles to your watch list is a breeze.
That said, there are a few annoyances. Netflix auto plays trailers for all of its original shows and movies, so you can’t rest your remote on a title without being bombarded by sound. It can make browsing Netflix sometimes feel like a game of streaming hot potato.
Netflix also has a habit of showing you the same categories and movies over and over again. There’s probably a good reason for that — these are the titles you are probably most interested in — but it can make finding something outside the box a little challenging.
Overall, though, we found Netflix’s user experience to be more positive than Prime Video, Hulu and MAX. Netflix also offers a one-month free trial, so you’ll have plenty of time to get used to it before committing to a monthly subscription.
What devices is Netflix compatible with?
As the most popular streaming service in the world, Netflix is compatible with every major streaming device, smart TV and gaming console around, including Roku, Amazon Fire TV Sticks, Google Chromecast, Apple TV, Xbox and PlayStation. The only major devices it’s not currently available on are Nintendo Switch and Amazon Echo Show.
How many simultaneous streams does Netflix allow?
You can watch Netflix on one screen at a time if you subscribe to the $9.99/mo. basic plan, two screens with the $6.99/mo. ad plan and four with both the $15.49 and $19.99/mo. plans. If you go over this limit, one of the screens will get an error message saying you have too many streams. For more troubleshooting steps, you can see Netflix’s guide here.
How do I download movies and shows from Netflix?
Netflix only makes some of its shows and movies available for download, but that list includes all of its originals. You can only download titles on a smartphone or tablet, and you’ll need to look for the small download icon next to the title. For TV shows, the icon appears next to each episode. When you first open the mobile app, a message will pop up, directing you to everything available to download. You can also access this list by clicking the downloads tab at the bottom of your screen.
What internet speed do I need for Netflix?
Netflix recommends 3 Mbps of download speed for SD streaming, 5 Mbps for HD and 25 Mbps for 4K Ultra HD. If you’re not sure whether you’re getting these speeds already, you can take our speed test below to find out. Keep in mind, the more devices that connect to your internet at once, the higher speed you’ll need. So you may still experience buffering issues even if your speed test clears Netflix’s recommendations.
Need more for the price?
Try these helpful hacks to improve your internet speed. Or if you just want more bang for your buck, check out providers near you with more speed for the price. Either way, we’ll help you find what you need.View providers near me
Rather chat? Give us a call: (844) 451-2720Rather chat? Give us a call: (844) 451-2720
Pro Tip: For best results, use an Ethernet cord to connect your router or modem directly to your device before you run the test.
How much data does Netflix use?
Streaming video generally consumes a lot of data, and Netflix is no exception. You’ll go through around 1 GB of data in 20 minutes if you’re streaming in HD, compared to every 667 hours for typical internet browsing. For more information on streaming with a data cap, you can check out our full guide here.
|Time to 1 GB
|0.09 GB per hour
|0.072 GB per hour
|Streaming Netflix in SD
|0.7 GB per hour
|Streaming Netflix in HD
|3 GB per hour
|Streaming Netflix in 4K
|7 GB per hour
Is Netflix worth it?
Netflix is the top streaming service for a reason: It outspends and outproduces its competition, and its first-class tech ensures you won’t see much of that dreaded buffering wheel. At $22.99/mo. for HD streaming, it is one of the more expensive services around, but Netflix still delivers the goods for most people.
Written by:Joe Supan
Principal Writer, Broadband Content
Joe is a senior writer for CNET covering home technology and broadband. Prior to joining CNET, Joe led MYMOVE’s moving coverage and reported on broadband policy, the digital divide, and privacy issues for the br… Read more
Edited by:Robin Layton
Editor, Broadband Content
FeaturedAmericans already subscribe to three streaming services on average. Is there room for more? Joe Supan — 3 min read
FeaturedHow to improve your streaming quality to get the best picture Camryn Smith — 3 min read
FeaturedA beginner’s guide to using the internet for entertainment Taylor Gadsden — 3 min read
Friday, February 23, 2024The average adult spends over seven hours online – here’s how you can manage your screen time
Camryn Smith — 5 min read
Friday, February 23, 2024What is municipal broadband?
Robin Layton — 3 min read
Thursday, February 22, 2024How to control your TV with Alexa
Lisa Iscrupe — 4 min read