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Without free HBO Max, Western students seek other streaming services

Which platforms are students gravitating towards?

A table comparing all of the lowest payment plans from some of the most used streaming services. // Data collected and compiled by Jacob Mina

Western Washington University used to offer the HBO Max streaming service for students living on campus but not anymore.

Western decided not to renew its contract with Comcast, leaving students looking to other streaming services for something new to binge-watch. 

A poll conducted on The Front’s Instagram asking which streaming service Western students prefer found that 45% of the voters consider Netflix their top choice. Disney+ came in last with only 8% of the votes, getting less than the “Other” category (representing other services and shorter-form content apps like YouTube), which got 18% of the votes.

Some Western students were not shocked by these results, such as Cam Gibb. 

“In terms of features, Disney+ is the worst one,” Gibb said.

Gibb is taking the Design 310 class at Western this fall quarter, and part of his classwork involves evaluating the user interface of Disney+ and seeing what improvements could be made. His project involved an online survey that asked students which streaming services they liked, as well as their opinions on Disney+.

Gibb said the Disney+ app is poorly designed and has bad personalization. 

“They leaned too far into the fact that, ‘Hey we’re Disney,’ and they didn’t put a lot of effort into the service,” he said.

Yellow Modern Did You Know Instagram Post.png
An illustration of a student considering which of the many streaming services to choose from for the year. Western students have many differing opinions about which is the best, but according to Instagram polling conducted by the Front, Netflix seems to be the most popular. // Illustration created in Canva by Jacob Mina

Despite the issues, Disney+ has the potential to reach the largest audience due to the different franchises represented within Disney+, Gibb said. 

Hannah Goodman from the Anti-Cinema Cinema club at Western said she enjoys using Disney+. Out of all the streaming services she uses, Goodman said she likes HBO Max and Disney+ the most. However, she said she would not pay for HBO Max, but would pay for Disney+.

“As a platform, it’s pretty awful in general, but it’s the only one I would pay for out of necessity; I’m a big Marvel fan,” she said. 

Gibb said some of the comments from his survey mentioned that the price of Disney+ is what turned them away.

“It’s really 50-50 on its value since it has a lot of exclusive content, but the features are so bad and limited,” Gibb said.

Another student from the Anti Cinema Cinema club, Emily Christianson, said she preferred Hulu out of all the streaming services she has.

“It’s definitely a good deal, just not the no-ad version,” Christianson said.

When asked about her opinion on Disney+, Christianson said she didn’t like how its original series released episodes weekly, compared to Netflix, which releases all of the episodes of its series at once. 

Gibb said a key takeaway from his survey is that several students prefer shorter-form content on platforms such as TikTok and YouTube.

When asked if they preferred shorter-form content over the longer shows and movies, both Goodman and Christianson said it was “50-50.”

“It’s all about convenience really," Gibb said. "It’s so easy to hop on TikTok and just scroll through several videos compared to sitting down and watching a whole TV show episode.”

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