With the streaming wars in full swing, it is now more difficult than ever to decide which streaming service is the right one. Once upon a time, streaming services were seen as an affordable alternative to cable. But now, if you were to subscribe to most —or even some of them— your monthly cost will approach the cost of your cable bill. Your best option is to pick the service that best suits your needs and interests. Another option is to switch services every few months as you make your way through the content.
Below are some of the best streaming services and our take on what each has to offer.
Netflix was the first big streaming service to hit the scene. Initially mailing out DVDs, they eventually moved into movies on demand. But it was in 2013, with the release of its first original series, House of Cards, that Netflix emerged as a threat to traditional television.
Netflix is now known for its quality original series and films. Its original programming has been nominated for a slew of awards. As a result of all this original programming, Netflix has removed many of the original blockbuster films and network series that it once housed.
Netflix is a good option for you if you are interested in its original programming. Netflix Originals cover a variety of content from drama and comedy to sci-fi and more. The service also has an extensive library of content for kids and families.
Hulu has become another key player in the streaming wars. It initially started as a service for viewers to watch both new and older network television shows. Since then, the service has expanded into films and original programming. Hulu is more affordable than Netflix, but there are ads.
Hulu has several subscription packages, including a base package, a Plus package with no ads, and a live TV package. If you want to save money and don’t mind a few ads, the base package is sufficient. You do not get any additional programming with Plus.
Hulu + Live TV serves as an alternative to cable. You will get access to over 65 live channels, including live news and sports. You will also get access to the Hulu library. This option may work for you if you’re not ready to cut the cord just yet.
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video is one of the perks of being an Amazon Prime member. You will get access to Amazon’s original films and series, a library of new and classic movies and tv shows, and children’s programming.
Amazon Prime runs a little more per month than the average streaming service. But you also get a lot of other benefits like free 2-day shipping, Prime Reading, Prime music, and so much more. You also have the option to add on premium channel content like Starz and HBO.
HBO Max is the premium cable company’s latest streaming service and is meant to replace HBO Go and HBO Now. This service will be of particular interest to you if you’re a fan of HBO’s original programming. Everything made by HBO is available.
There are a few new original series and more in the works. Furthermore, the service has a lineup of many classic shows like Friends and Fresh Prince, and the usual Hollywood films you expect from HBO.
HBO Max is one of the costlier services, so it’s best for those looking for the channel’s original programming.
Disney joined the streaming wars with Disney+. The service features a small offering of original programming, lots of Disney Channel originals, and, of course, many classic Disney films.
This service is best for those with kids, those who love all things Disney, Star Wars fans, or 90s kids looking to relive their middle school years. With more new content set to be released soon, Disney+ is well worth its affordable subscription fee.
Apple TV+ is new to the streaming scene and has a limited library of content compared to others on this list. The service is entirely made up of original programming, and several of the shows have gotten critical claim, particularly The Morning Show.
Apple TV+’s programming covers various genres from drama and comedy to documentary and children’s. Due to the lack of content, it’s probably not the best option if you only plan to have one streaming service. But if some of the programs look interesting, it can be an excellent second service.
Peacock is a new service released by NBC. The base plan is free with ads. You will get access to many NBC shows, news, movies, and some sports. As it’s free, there’s really no reason you shouldn’t add it to your services.
If you want more, like Peacock’s original programming, you will need to upgrade to one of the premium options. You can also opt to watch without ads.
Quibi is an innovative streaming service designed for your phone. You can watch videos either in portrait or landscape mode. The name stands for “quick bites,” and its episodes are just that. Most come in at under 10 minutes.
Quibi’s content and format have had some mixed reviews. But it may be a good option for you if you use your phone a lot for viewing.
With all of the streaming services available, it can be challenging to know how to find the best one for you. Your best bet is to consider the type of programming you want, how often you plan to watch, and what your budget can accommodate. From there, you should be able to find the streaming service that suits you best.