As everyone decides they want a piece of the pie, the number of video streaming services has drastically expanded over the last few years. It’s no longer the case that Netflix is your only option, which is excellent for all of us eager to find our next favourite TV show but may also be complicated and pricey. Now it’s up to you to research which video streaming services have the content you want to watch, which are within your price range, which have the best original TV shows and films, and more.
The top US video streaming services that are worth your money
Nobody provides more high-quality content at a single price than Netflix when compared to other streaming providers. You can certainly find anything on Netflix that fits the bill in any category you can think of. Additionally, Netflix releases new content every week and continues to add movies and TV shows from around the world as a global service, which can alter the viewing experience in ways you might not have anticipated (Are you sure you aren’t into K-Dramas, Finnish detective thrillers, or British home improvement shows?).
Netflix is accessible practically everywhere on the earth, and the majority of internet-connected devices are compatible with either its website or app. Additionally, those apps are among the easiest to use of any provider. It’s not always easy to decide what to watch, but when it comes to switching profiles or just continuing where you left off, there’s nothing better than this. You may easily download the majority (but not all) of its material to view on your iOS or Android device if you’re travelling off the grid or boarding a plane.
Amazon Prime Video
You might be underestimating the alternatives available if you consider Amazon’s Prime Video subscription to be Netflix lite or even if you’ve only tried it once or twice. The subscription service is a part of Amazon Prime, which you can get for $15 per month or $139 per year. It is ad-free (apart from trailers). While free shipping on more products was the original purpose of the subscription, Amazon has now added advantages for books, music, games, and even groceries. For $9 a month, you can purchase Prime Video on its own if that’s what you prefer.
We’ll concentrate on the video service, which offers a variety of original and archive content that is very similar to what Netflix and the competition provide. With critically acclaimed genre programming like The Boys and The Expanse, as well as award-winning programmes like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Amazon Prime has recently increased its original production.
Amazon Prime Video rivals Netflix in terms of the number of places you can watch it. Whether they use Amazon’s Fire TV platform or not, streaming devices and smart TVs are practically a given. gaming systems? Check. The only significant compatibility gap was with Google’s Chromecast, which was fixed in the summer of 2019.
In contrast to Netflix, Amazon offers a wide selection of content that is available to stream in 4K and HDR without adding any additional fees. The same is true for concurrent streams; according to Amazon’s policies, a maximum of two can be active at once. On its Fire devices, Android, and iOS, Amazon permits offline viewing of downloads.
The usability of Amazon’s apps isn’t quite on pace with Netflix, which is the only drawback. Even though all the capabilities are there, Amazon is usually more frustrating than other platforms when it comes to performing basic tasks like reading an episode summary, setting closed captioning, or switching between one show and another. The corporation also frequently demands that its Fire TV-inspired user interface be ported to other platforms.
HBO made the decision to compete with its streaming rivals in 2020 with HBO Max. By placing a renewed emphasis on original programming and updating the service for the modern day, it replaced the pre-existing HBO channels as well as streaming via HBO Go or HBO Now. HBO Max has the benefit of access to one of the most comprehensive (and top-notch) content libraries available, drawing from the Warner Bros. vault, Studio Ghibli, Looney Tunes, Sesame Street, and Turner Classic Movies in addition to the archives of the premium cable channel.
You presumably already have access to the full HBO Max experience if you pay for HBO through one of the big TV providers. Start streaming immediately after activating your account. Otherwise, you can immediately subscribe online. The no-ads tier of HBO Max features a free 7-day trial and costs $15 per month (or $150 per year).
A new ad-supported tier from the corporation is available for $10 per month or $100 per year. You won’t be able to download materials for offline viewing in addition to advertising. Only those with the ad-free subscription currently have access to HBO Max’s 4K HDR streaming, which is only available for a limited amount of material. It offers unique profiles and can accommodate up to three streams at once.
Since its debut, HBO Max has expanded to more TV devices, and it is currently accessible on Samsung, Roku, Apple TV, and Android TV, among others. Additionally, you may stream it via a browser, game consoles from Sony and Microsoft, or Android and iOS mobile apps. Along with working with the smart TVs listed below, it also supports AirPlay and Google’s Cast functionality.
HBO Max offers premium content that Warner pulled from Netflix and other services, such as whole seasons of Friends and The Fresh Prince and movies and TV shows based on the DC Universe. With shows like Game of Thrones, The Wire, and classics like Band of Brothers, Flight of the Conchords, and Entourage, the HBO collection speaks for itself. It’s
Hulu began as a little bit of a curiosity — a partnership between NBC, News Corp., and a private equity fund to compete with Netflix by providing fresh TV episodes. Hulu then developed into a streaming network worth paying attention to after Disney joined in 2009, bringing with it its content from ABC and the Disney Channel. Today, Hulu still focuses on recent TV episodes, but it also boasts a large selection of original series and movies (such as The Handmaid’s Tale and Only Murders in the Building), as well as an extensive collection of older TV shows and films that frequently puts Netflix to shame.
Following Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox, the service no longer functions as a joint venture between major media companies. Disney now holds a 75% controlling position in Hulu. (Comcast still provides NBCUniversal programming, but it has the option of having Disney acquire its stake in the company as early as 2024.) Instead, it serves as an addition to Disney’s expanding digital empire, which now includes Disney+ and ESPN+. Although it may not be good for the overall competitiveness of streaming services, users can expect even more high-quality programming in the future, such as all of the FX episodes that debuted on Hulu earlier this year.
Ad-supported Hulu memberships are available for $7 per month (or $70 per year). For an additional $13 per month, you may upgrade to the ad-free plan (worth it for true TV addicts). With prices for the company’s Live TV service starting at $70 per month with commercials and $76 per month without, you do have Disney+ and ESPN+ services included. Hulu enables simultaneous streaming on two of your devices, and you may save select video for offline watching. Additionally, $10 a month for unrestricted home streaming is available to Live TV members (and for up to three remote mobile devices).
Utilizing all of the company’s well-known properties, including Star Wars, Pixar, and Marvel, Disney+ launched with a bang. It serves as your one-stop shop for all things Disney, making it a favourite among children, parents, enthusiasts of animation, and anyone looking for vintage movies from studios like 20th Century Pictures. Additionally, there are no R-rated films or television shows available, unlike Hulu, which Disney also controls.
Disney+ has swiftly turned into a must-have for families as a result of the company’s increased emphasis on streaming. And for $8 per month (or $80 annually), it’s considerably less expensive than dragging the kids along for an expensive Blu-ray from Disney or even a night out at the movies. It is also available in a $14 package with ESPN+ and Hulu.
Disney+ allows you to download movies and TV shows for offline watching and supports up to four concurrent streams. (That comes in handy in particular when you’re stranded in a car with no cell service and a wailing child. Believe me.) Disney+ is available on the majority of TV brands and all popular streaming devices. Although Amazon’s Fire TV devices weren’t supported when the service first began, they now do.
Apple didn’t skimp on its streaming service, debuting it with well-known shows like The Morning Show. While not all of them were immediately successful (See you later, get it? ), Apple TV+ has now accumulated a variety of must-watch shows like Ted Lasso, Severance, and For All Mankind. The iPhone manufacturer is obviously adopting a different strategy than Netflix or Disney, focusing on quality and well-known celebrities rather than oversaturating us with information. But it appears like the plan worked.
There are many fantastic series and movies available for $5 per month. However, if you’re a devoted Apple user, upgrading to an Apple One plan, which also includes Apple Arcade, Music, and Apple TV, may be worthwhile.
For cord cutters who still want to watch live TV without having to enter into a contract, YouTube TV is a fantastic choice. Since it offers more than 85 channels, switching over is very likely to make you completely forget about your cable or satellite subscription. Even your local PBS channels are available on YouTube TV, which is uncommon on most streaming sites.
In the area of sports, YouTube TV particularly excels. It provides both general sports coverage networks like the MLB Network, NBA TV, and the NFL Network in addition to sports-specific channels like CBS, FOX, ESPN, NBC, TBS, and TNT. If you like, you may even get a Sports Plus plan for an extra $11 each month.
Instead of constantly having to remember to record a certain game, sports fans may just opt to “follow” a particular team, and the DVR will automatically record all of its games. Additionally, there is a “catch up with crucial plays” function that enables you to see all the highlights up to that moment in order to catch up if you were to join the game late.
At $65 a month, YouTube TV is on the pricey side but may not cost much more than your basic cable bundle. You would need to pay an extra $20 a month for unrestricted streaming and 4K viewing, which is now only available for some sporting events.
There are also a tonne of premium channels you can join for as little as $3 a month, including EPIX ($6 per month), Showtime ($11), HBO Max ($15), Starz ($9), Cinemax ($10), and Starz ($9). For $30 a month, you can also sign up for an Entertainment Plus package that includes HBO Max, Showtime, and Starz. Other specialised add-ons include $3 per month for CuriosityStream, $5 per month for AMC Premiere, $6 per month for Shudder, $7 per month for Sundance Now, $5 per month for Urban Movie Channel, and $6 per month for Acorn TV. — N.L.
Hulu with Live TV
In addition to original and on-demand programming, Hulu also has a Live TV add-on that enables you to access more than 80 channels without a cable or satellite connection. Disney+ and ESPN+ access are both included in the $70 monthly fee. You can watch on-demand shows without any advertising by spending an additional $6, which is not possible with YouTube TV. Hulu’s Live TV option will have unlimited DVR storage for up to nine months starting in April 2022. That includes the ability to fast-forward and playback on demand.
Hulu allows two streams to be active at once per account, but you may upgrade for an additional $15 to get infinite screens (and up to three remote mobile devices).
Sports enthusiasts should find plenty of material on Hulu’s Live TV package, which provides access to networks including CBS, FOX, ESPN, NBC, TBS, TNT, and more. These channels cover most of the main sports, including football, basketball, and baseball. NFL Network and NFL RedZone were also available on Hulu in 2021. However, NBA TV and MLB Network are not available on Hulu plus Live TV, so you might be missing out on some additional sports coverage.
The finest deal in sports streaming is without a doubt ESPN’s standalone offering. When it comes to raw content volume, nothing can match the network. Numerous live college sporting events are broadcast on this platform, along with MLB, MLS, NHL, NBA G League, and other events. Pro tennis is also widely available, while soccer lovers may get ESPN+ for an unbelievable price.
ESPN+ is the US home of the Bundesliga (Germany) and the EFL Cup in addition to some MLS games (Carabao Cup). Additionally, it serves as the venue for the European portion of the UEFA Nations League.
The service includes the complete library of ESPN’s 30 For 30 series in addition to a selection of original programming. Finally, UFC is shown on ESPN+. In addition to weekly or monthly streaming, the app also gives you access to PPV events like Fight Nights, Dana White’s Contender Series, and other programmes.
For $10 per month, you get a truckload of sports. You can get all three for $14 per month if you spend extra money on Disney’s package that includes Disney+ and Hulu (ad-supported). — Deputy News Editor Billy Steele
Formerly known as CBS All Access, Paramount+ is now a popular destination for sports content in addition to original programming like Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and The Twilight Zone. When the NWSL returned to the field last summer, the app started streaming matches. The US Women’s League will stream exclusively on All Access, according to a separate announcement from CBS. Sadly, not every game is available there, but it’s a start.
Soccer’s UEFA Champions League and Europa League were soon added to CBS’s sports lineup. The Champions League is the premier club soccer tournament, pitting the finest clubs from around the continent against one another to determine who is the best. Similar work is done by Europa League, although with less acclaim. Paramount+
At $6 per month with a few ads or $10 per month without ads, Paramount+ isn’t yet a must-have sports site. The CBS app allows you to stream NFL and other events that are broadcast on your local CBS station, but the network is currently building out a diverse schedule. It’s more of a requirement right now than anything else for soccer enthusiasts. — B.S.
Prior to Peacock’s debut, NBC made it clear that Premier League soccer would be accessible on the stand-alone service. We weren’t prepared for the network to place so many games there, thus pressuring everyone who isn’t just a casual fan to subscribe. PL scheduling is partly to blame for this. To follow in-depth in the US, you must subscribe to the $5/month programme and have access to the NBC Sports network (through cable or live TV streaming).
Peacock also broadcasts coverage of the US Open tennis tournament, NFL Wild Card games, and will present “selected events” from the Tokyo and Beijing Olympics. A few sports talk shows are also available for free, and subscribers can access on-demand replays of the Triple Crown horse races and other content. — B.S.
The Criterion Channel
Modern movies are simple to obtain on Netflix and other streaming sites these days, but classic movies are frequently more difficult to locate. FilmStruck attempted to address the issue, but it was unable to attract a sizable enough audience to be viable. There is also the Criterion Channel, which offers a selection of its cinephile-approved library on a rolling basis for $11 per month or $100 per year. (Where else can you stream amazing ramen Western Tampopo, for example?)
It’s a service designed with movie fans in mind: It is jam-packed with the company’s famed special features, commentary tracks, and interviews with authors and directors. Additionally, The Criterion Channel is considerably superior to other providers in terms of curating available viewing selections. For instance, its double features pair classic noir films like Phantom Lady and Variety that have a similar theme. For all of you experts in auteur theory, its editors also make it simple to locate all of the movies by a single director that are now available.
Sometimes the only way to cope with the ongoing worry about a pandemic, a possible climate disaster, and the apparent collapse of contemporary society is to watch a decent horror film. If that fits your personality, you should check out Shudder, AMC Network’s streaming service specialising in horror content. There are many horror classics available, such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but Shudder has also entered the original content market with inventive movies like Host, which is fully conducted over a Zoom call.
If you’re a little queasy, Shudder probably won’t convince you that horror is for you. But there is a wealth of material to explore for enthusiasts of the genre. It is free to try out for seven days; after that, it costs $6 per month (or $57 annually). Shudder does not yet support offline watching and only allows for the simultaneous viewing of one stream. Shudder is available on all the big streaming platforms, but since it’s so specialised, don’t anticipate seeing it on smart TVs any time soon. — D.H.