Amazon’s comedies win with critics, while Hulu is a hit with audiences

  • CNBC looked at ratings from critics and audiences for original dramas and comedies from Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and HBO.
  • Amazon originals are the most popular, while audiences and critics also agree that Netflix comedies are the worst.
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Helen H. Richardson | The Denver Post | Getty Images

When choosing between streaming service subscriptions, there are many things to consider — price, live channel offerings and number of simultaneous streams, for example.

Another factor is the quality of original content. But if you can't watch an episode of Netflix's "Stranger Things" without a subscription, and you don't know if you want a subscription because you're unsure about the show, how the heck do you decide which streaming service is right for you?

We've got you covered.

CNBC compiled rottentomatoes.com's critic and audience ratings for original shows from Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and HBO. Our data includes all comedies and dramas that are ongoing, renewed for more episodes or are pending renewal.

If you're choosing your subscription based on original content, critics recommend Amazon or HBO for dramas (average 87 percent rating) and Amazon for comedies (average 90 percent rating). Audiences look to Hulu for humor (average 90 percent rating) and Amazon for drama (average 90 percent rating).

While Amazon gets high marks from both sets of viewers, the platform's meager audience and disappointment at the Emmy's pose some future challenges.

Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon's critically acclaimed show "Transparent" (critics: 95 percent, audience: 88 percent) has fewer than 1 million viewers.

About the Emmy Awards, an Amazon Studios executive said "we're getting chewed up," according to the Journal report. The platform is planning to shift away from so-called hipster shows in favor of content with wider appeal, like science fiction and spy fiction, the report said.

Netflix has the most original entertainment, 17 comedies and 15 dramas, but more isn't necessarily better, as HBO CEO Richard Plepler pointed out last week on CNBC's "Power Lunch."

Critics and general audiences shared a disdain for Netflix's comedies, with both giving it the lowest score (critics: 80 percent, audience: 83 percent) among the platforms.

When it came to Pleper's streaming option, critics and the general public agreed that HBO's "Game of Thrones" was its best drama, rated 95 percent by critics and 94 percent by its audience.

"Sneaky Pete" was considered Amazon's best drama (critics: 100 percent, audience: 91 percent) and Emmy Award-winning "The Handmaid's Tale" was Hulu's winner in the category (critics: 95 percent, audience: 92 percent).

Critics and audiences held some clashing opinions when it came to comedies from Netflix and HBO.

Netflix's "Dear White People" was one of the service's highest-rated shows by critics, with a 100 percent satisfaction, yet audiences rated it the worst of the platform's comedies at 65 percent.

Similarly, critics said HBO's "Insecure" was its best comedy, with an average rating of 100 percent, but the general public rated it the worst, with an approximate score of 72 percent.

Hulu's comedies and HBO's dramas also received dramatically different scores. Critics loved both, while audiences didn't at all.

Before settling on a subscription with the hope you'll fall in love with a specific show, consider testing out free trials first. All four companies offer a complimentary 30-day trial — so bust out those phones and start binging.

Read more by Catherine Campo:

Netflix versus the competition: How to choose a streaming service

—CNBC's Anita Balakrishnan contributed to this report.

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