Your Complete Guide to Which Streaming Services You Need in Your Life
The days of just a few streaming platforms are over — there are several options now, but which one should you choose? With seemingly every company getting in on having a streaming platform of their very own, it's getting harder to keep track of which platform offers which benefits. The big three — Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu — are still going strong, but there are newcomers to the game that are prepared to attract subscribers with some big-name exclusive content and tempting prices. So which streaming service is right for you? If you're not sure what's right for your taste (and your budget), keep reading for our complete guide to the current and upcoming streaming services.
Price: $13 per month for a full Prime subscription; $9 per month for Prime Video only
Highlights of its library: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Man in the High Castle, Carnival Row, Transparent, and Good Omens Additionally, Prime has the streaming rights for a large number of preexisting movies and TV shows.
Who it's good for: Prime's original programming is finally starting to get off the ground, but it lags behind some of its competitors with only a few successful, high-profile original shows and minimal original movies that have made a splash. However, if you enjoy stylish, well-crafted shows geared at an adult audience, Prime may be right for you.
Price: $6 per month with ads, $12 per month with no ads, $45 and up to include live TV
Highlights of its library: The Handmaid's Tale, Runaways, The Act, Difficult People, The Mindy Project, and Veronica Mars Additionally, Hulu has the streaming rights for a large number of preexisting movies and TV shows.
Who it's good for: Hulu is probably best suited for viewers looking to keep up with some of the buzzy but off-beat titles out there, particularly when it comes to TV. Its movie library is pretty hit or miss, and its original movies have yet to break through. That being said, Hulu has snagged the revivals or rescues of a few network faves, including The Orville, The Mindy Project, and, most recently, the revived Veronica Mars, so it's a good home for keeping up with a fairly eclectic range of programming.
Price: $9 per month for a basic plan, $13 per month for a standard plan, and $16 for a premium plan
Highlights of its library: Stranger Things, The Crown, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, 13 Reasons Why, When They See Us, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Grace and Frankie, One Day at a Time, and Russian Doll Additionally, Netflix has the streaming rights for a large number of existing movies and TV shows.
Who it's good for: As you might have noticed, Netflix's original content library wildly outpaces its competitors — and that's just the TV shows; we haven't even gotten to its buzzy original movies like Roma, To All the Boys I've Loved Before, Always Be My Maybe, and more. If you can only pick one streaming platform, Netflix's sheer variety, plus the overall quality of its originals, makes it the best bet for the widest audience.
Price: $7 per month or $13 per month to bundle with ESPN Plus and ad-supported Hulu
Highlights of its library: New and rebooted Disney shows such as Lizzie McGuire and The Proud Family, all of the new Marvel shows (Loki, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, WandaVision, Hawkeye, What If...?, Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk), and The Mandalorian All Disney, Star Wars, and Marvel movies will be shifting to the platform as well.
Who it's good for: Nostalgia-loving Disney fans who want access to their old faves and new reboots. Plus, Disney currently owns two of the largest pop culture properties in history (the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars), so fans of those universes may want to sign up in order to keep up with all the additional content outside the main movies.
Price: $5 per month
Highlights of its library: Entirely original content so far, including The Morning Show, Dickinson, For All Mankind, See, Ghostwriters, and a new interview series from Oprah
Who it's good for: Viewers seeking original content but unconcerned about streaming existing, licensed titles. Apple TV+ has the least amount of certainty, since it's the newest entrant into the streaming market, but its projects so far seem to emphasize creative, even quirky ideas from big names.
CBS All Access
Price: $6 per month
Highlights of its library: The Good Fight, Star Trek Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and The Twilight Zone
Who it's good for: CBS All Access has a pretty limited set of programming, with a handful of prestige original series (all connected to existing titles), streaming rights to some shows that originally aired on CBS, and a limited library of movies from partner studios. It's aimed mostly at fans of those specific properties, rather than attracting a broader base with a big library.
Price: $15 per month
Highlights of its library: Game of Thrones, Sex and the City, Big Little Lies, Euphoria, Doctor Who, and Friends, plus a wide selection of preexisting blockbuster movies and TV shows
Who it's good for: HBO Max, with a planned launch in Spring 2020, will combine secondary streaming rights for major past hits (notoriously scooping up the rights to Friends) along with HBO's big-name prestige shows and recent hit movies. The service is aimed at a broad swath of audiences who are as interested in revisiting nostalgic faves as they are in discovering new top-tier shows.
Price: $50 per month
Highlights of its library: YouTube TV allows access to currently airing shows on major networks, including ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CNN, Disney, Food Network, ESPN, AMC, TNT, and more.
Who it's good for: If you're not ready to give up live access to current shows on regular TV networks but don't want to deal with a traditional cable subscription, YouTube TV is probably a good bet. It's more expensive, since it's essentially a digital version of an old-fashioned TV provider, but it allows you to keep up with your favorite shows as they air, rather than waiting months for them to hit secondary streaming markets.
Price: $25 per month for the basic package
Highlights of its library: Sling allows access to currently airing shows on major networks, including ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CNN, Disney, Food Network, ESPN, AMC, TNT, and more. However, certain networks (such as Fox and NBC-owned brands) are not available on the lowest pricing tier.
Who it's good for: Sling is touted as a more flexible alternative to traditional cable subscriptions, but, like cable, it has different tiers of access with more channels as you go up the ladder. It's a cost-effective cord-cutting service that still allows you to access a good chunk of today's headliner TV shows without waiting for them to arrive on a secondary streaming service.
Price: Currently unknown
Highlights of its library: NBC faves such as The Office, Parks and Recreation, Friday Night Lights, Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Peacock also has the streaming rights for Downton Abbey, and a slew of movies produced by Universal and related studios Original programming will include reboots of Battlestar Galactica and Punky Brewster, an Ed Helms sitcom, and the drama Angelyne.
Who it's good for: Much like CBS All Access, Peacock is basically an extended version of an existing TV network. If you've got separation anxiety from your NBC sitcom faves leaving Netflix, or you're curious about one of their new brand-name projects, Peacock might be a worthwhile investment for you!