There’s a lot of streaming services on the market all searching for your money in exchange for a library of on-demand movies and TV shows. Unfortunately, there is no Spotify of the movie and TV world, so question becomes which one is right for you? Of course there is no one right answer, but if you’re looking for a quick list of their strengths, hopefully this can help ease your dilemma of which ones to choose.
Netflix is the number one streaming service, and with its vast library of original movies, series, documentaries, stand-up specials, kids programming, and much more, it’s easy to see why. Starting at $8.99 a month for the low-quality stream and $13.99 for the HD stream, there’s something for everyone, and even if it is missing something, Netflix’s DVD rental program is still an add-on to consider.
Netflix gained popularity initially by licensing popular TV shows and movies, but now many of those popular programs that were once on Netflix have moved to the streaming services of the companies that own them, so no more Friends and The Office. However, the rest of the companies without their own streaming platform generally choose to go with Netflix, so it’s a good streaming service to have.
Considering Netflix’s critically acclaimed and insanely popular original programming, Netflix is a must.
Hulu was once a partnership owned by many of the big players in TV. Because of this, it had a large library of shows from many of the top channels, causing it to be one of the big streaming platforms. Today, Hulu is mostly owned by Disney, and although a few channels, shows, and movies outside of Disney are on Hulu, much of Hulu’s programming going forward will be Disney owned.
Hulu is one part of Disney’s OTT streaming strategy. Disney+ serves as the more family-oriented platform, and then there’s ESPN+ for sports fans. Hulu aims to compete with Netflix by offering ABC and FX’s library of content, as well as originals that don’t fit with Disney+’s family friendly content.
Although Hulu is no longer the one-stop TV place, there are still plenty of great shows from other companies on the platform, not to mention their original shows are highly rated, plus if you like ABC and FX shows, Hulu is still a recommended platform.
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime started as Amazon’s subscription service for free two-day shipping, with some extra goodies included. One of those extras was Prime Video. Amazon has since invested heavily into Prime Video by offering highly rated content, and licensing many TV shows and movies. Amazon’s also been investing in sports, so your favorite sports team may be streaming there.
Amazon has a great deal of content, and if you’ve already subscribed for free shipping, it’s a nice perk. The originals are good, but do your homework to see if they have the content that you care about included with Prime.
Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, and National Geographic fans will find plenty to love with this $6.99 streaming service. The price alone, especially compared to other services, is impulse territory. As long as you understand Disney+ won’t have the wide range of content like Netflix, at its lower-than-average price, the fans of the house of mouse will be happy.
HBO was the original Netflix, offering a premium selection of original shows and movies, all while licensing movies from other companies. The same can be said with HBO Max, an expansion of its many predecessors, offering more licensed shows like ViacomCBS’s South Park and diving deep into WarnerMedia’s massive library, which owns a little show called Friends. You can expect to also see content from TBS, TNT, TCM, TruTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, and CNN.
HBO has always charged a premium price for its content, so it’s no surprise HBO Max is $14.99, a tad higher than the competition. You get a good amount of content, including the incredibly popular Game of Thrones. Still, HBO Max may not be for everyone.
Comcast NBCUnivseral owns a great deal of content, from NBC, USA, SyFy, E!, in addition to tons of NBC News, exclusive sports, and entertainment. The plus side of Peacock is it offers a free version to dip your toes into the platform. There’s a lot of content available for free, including a Pluto TV style free live TV section offering channels like SNL Vault, NBC News Now, Today All Day, and more.
Peacock Premium unlocks the entire platform at $4.99 with ads, and $9.99 ad-free, and there is a lot to watch, like including content from other companies Paramount Network’s Yellowstone from ViacomCBS. If you can live with ads the low $5 price is enticing, but you’ve really got to love NBCUniversal to get full use out of it. Try it out for free and see if there’s something you may like.
Paramount+ (Formerly CBS All Access)
I remember in 2014 questioning why CBS would want to start its own service when the other companies were licensing their content to Hulu. At the time, CBS saw the future would be in streaming and knew they would need their own platform. Now that Viacom merged with CBS, the service is Paramount+ and has programming from not only CBS, but also BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Smithsonian Channel and more, as well as more original content, ranging from reboots of classic movies and shows, to new shows, movies, and documentaries.
Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of ViacomCBS content on other platforms, so although there’s a Comedy Central section, South Park will be on HBO Max until at least 2022, in addition to other CC shows on competing platforms. Still, there’s a lot of content, and its $5.99 price with ads and $9.99 ad-free, is in line with Peacock. However, you really need to love ViacomCBS content, otherwise there’s not a lot here yet. There is exclusive sports and content from CBS News, which may make it more appealing. At the moment, it’s worth a free trial to see if the content work for you.
At $5 a month, Apple TV+ is in impulse territory, and there’s a lot of great content on the service. Plus, if you buy a new Apple device, you get a full year free. I just don’t like the confusing name tied in with its streaming box Apple TV. The name implies the content can only be viewed on that device when in fact Apple TV+ is available on many platforms, so there’s no cause for concern that you’ll be able to find the service. Still, there’s a lot of great content, as well as Peanuts holiday specials, so it’s worth a try.
No matter what service you go with, even if you added all these platforms, you’ll still be spending less than traditional cable TV. Pick the one that has the shows and movies you want, and enjoy saving some money!