Your Guide to Streaming Services
Let’s be honest, there are a lot of streaming services out there these days. With a few more on the horizon, we wanted to compile a list to help you track your options. There are three categories of streaming services worth noting. The first is the Original and On-Demand Content, like Netflix, which provides subscribers with a library of content to watch as they would like, often including originals. We already reviewed Curiosity Stream for the science-minded, so we have listed additional niche content here. Secondly, you can subscribe to premium cable channels through their subscription service outside of a cable provider. Lastly, there are your live TV options which provide you a variety of television channels, rarely with on-demand content. Some services that offer live TV will include a cloud-based DVR. For a bonus, we will share where you can find FREE content!
Original and On-Demand Content
The on-demand streaming service is probably the most popular. You have thousands of TV shows, new and old, all complemented by a large film library all available when you want. Each service provides different options at different prices with advantages and drawbacks to nearly all of them. this list is the fastest-growing as well with three new services launching very soon.
Price: $4.99/month for a family subscription (7-day free trial available)
The new app will also be available via Fire TV, Roku, and Smart TVs.
One year free with Apple Device purchase.
Content: There isn’t a library of additional content as with other services, so this subscription will only access Apple Originals. This includes the award-winning series, The Morning Show, which will return for a second season. Apple will also release original films throughout the year. You can access any of your iTunes purchased TV and movies through the app.
Amazon Prime Video
Price: $119 per year or $13 per month, with free shipping. A video-only subscription costs $9 per month. (30-day free trial available)
Content: Amazon Prime Video boasts award-winning originals and a huge library of TV shows and movies. Like Apple’s TV app, you can purchase or rent additional content that is not currently available through Prime streaming. The perks of Prime go beyond Prime Video, though. Prime membership also includes 2-day free shipping on Amazon.com, discounts at Whole Foods, and Prime Now delivery, just to name a few. The Prime Video library continues to grow, but you can also purchase films and shows that are not included in Prime within the app.
Price: $6.99 a month, or $69.99 annually. (7-day free trial available)
Content: This streaming service offers the best of British TV. Whether you want classic British period dramas or need your fix of Idris Elba in Luther, they have it all. This service doesn’t include British films or original series exclusive to the streaming service but does include content from BBC, itv, and others.
CBS All Access
Price: $5.99 per month with ads or $9.99 per month ad-free. (7-day free trial available)
Content: CBS All Access focuses on CBS TV content, originals, and Live TV from CBS Sports, CBSN, ET Live, and your local CBS station. The main driver of this streaming service is to access the newest Star Trek series. Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard, coming in January, are exclusive to the streaming service. For many Trek fans, this is worth the price of admission. Additional originals are available including The Good Wife spin-off The Good Fight, also The Twilight Zone reboot with Jordan Peele, and Why Women Kill starring Lucy Liu. There is also the CBS and non-CBS TV series available from the last several decades of American TV.
The Criterion Channel
Price: $10.99 per month or $99.99 for an annual subscription. (14-day free trial available)
Content: Focusing on film fans, this service is solely classic cinema from around the world. The service also offers original short-form content to highlight films and filmmakers to guide your viewing. The biggest feature is this service is access to films that are difficult to find just about anywhere else with nearly one-hundred years of movies represented.
Price: $7.99 per month or $74.99 for an annual subscription. (7-day free trial available)
Content: This is a pass to so much DC Comics content you’ll never need to Google Superman again. From DC films to animated and live-action TV and new original content, subscribers can access a library of decades of DC content. Also, DC Comics started with comics after all, so the subscription gives you access to select comic titles that can be read on the mobile app. Also, the app offers a character encyclopedia, of sorts, that shares details about character history and origins. This is a streaming service that is created for the most loyal of DC fans or those looking to join in.
Price: $6.99 per month or $69.99 for an annual subscription. $12.99 per month for Hulu and ESPN+ included.
Content: Let’s just say, the list is long for what will be available on Disney+. The nearly 100-year old company has been dominating the entertainment world since its inception. The streaming service will offer nearly all of Disney’s classic animated and live-action films, even some you don’t remember. Further, Disney Channel shows and films from decades past to now will be available at the launch. The biggest part of the puzzle will be to see how the original series and films will connect with fans. Marvel will be continuing the MCU into TV shows with shows like Wanda Vision and The Falcon and Winter Solider, as announced at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. Disney+ will also have a slew of new shows and films, some with familiar titles. The new live-action Lady and the Tramp film will premiere upon launch on November 12th. Later, a reboot of Lizzie McGuire should have Millenials locked in for a good binge-watch. Because of Disney’s ownership of Hulu and ESPN+, the plan is to offer more adult-focused content on Hulu, Sports on ESPN+, and family-focused on Disney+ to cover all their bases.
Price: $5 per month or $50 per year for the basic service. You can pay an additional $25 per month each for the full MLB.TV baseball and NHL hockey seasons
Content: This streaming service is focused on sports content and live sports viewing. ESPN+ has original content, the full 30 for 30 library, access to exclusive UFC fights and PPV match-ups, as well as exclusive written content from ESPN’s top sports analysts on the mobile app.
Price: $14.99 per month
Content: First, this is not just HBO, that would be HBONow/HBOGo (see below). This will be the home to WarnerMedia. The WarnerMedia company, like Disney, has nearly 100-years of content at its disposal. The company has shared that this will be the exclusive home to Friends upon launch along with the Friends reunion special featuring all original cast members (delayed sure to COVID-19). Also, Doctor Who‘s 11-season run will be available exclusively. The streamer has shared they will offer the library of Studio Ghibli films along with Warner Bros. classics, DC Comics, and Sesame Street.
Price: $6 per month with ads or $12 per month without ads.
Content: Hulu’s library has more depth than other streaming services. Besides having award-winning originals, such as The Handmaid’s Tale, the streamer also has a content library of content from many different networks. Further, they give you access to new episodes of shows as they air, many becoming available the same night as they air on TV. For those looking to “cut-the-cord” from cable, Hulu is the first service to sign-up for, so you can stay up-to-date with the current series from across networks.
Price: $9 per month for standard-def video on a single screen; $13 per month for high-def video on up to two screens; $16 per month for 4K Ultra High Definition video on up to four screens.
Content: The one that started it all! Now synonymous with binge-watching, Netflix began the streaming war. Their attempts to create original content have proved fruitful with multiple award-winning and nominated films and shows. They want to continue to grow their original brand, but as more and more streaming services have popped-up, they are losing content. Marvel has all but left the site on the film side, while Netflix paid hundreds of millions to keep Friends and The Office for one more year, prior to the start of HBO Max. Their library is still stocked, though, boasting access to endless and, most of the time, overwhelming options.
Price: Multi-tier platform including, free (limited access), Peacock Premium at $4.99/month (with ads), Premium ad-free $9.99/month
Content: Check out our full Peacock breakdown for all the details. On the drama TV side, Dr. Death will be a Peacock original series based on the popular podcast. The streaming service will also include comedies for kids of the ’80s with reboots of Saved by the Bell and Punky Brewster, with some original cast members reprising their roles. A new docuseries called Who Wrote That will be focusing on the talents behind SNL. Classic NBC shows will also be available like The Office and Parks and Recreation.
Price: Plans start at $4.99
Content: From the mind of Jeffery Katzenberg, Quibi offers a different type of content. Boasting all originals, with new episodes every day, the idea is to offer short-form content that adds up to a longer story. Essentially you watch a movie in 10-minute segments or 10-minute episodes of a TV series. With the success of short-form video on YouTube, this is the first attempt to bring higher production values and Hollywood storytellers to the growing new medium.
Price: $11.99 per month (1-month free trial)
Content: YouTube Premium replaced YouTube Red and combined with YouTube Music to create a premium, ad-free experience on the video-site. YouTube Originals are available to subscribers, although select episodes and full series are available to anyone who can put up with ads. The ability to avoid ads and listen in the background makes the Premium experience potentially worth the price. If you are a YouTube watcher who just can’t handle another 15-second shampoo ad before you watch, you might just need this streaming service.
These networks were previously only available to cable subscriptions as an add-on, yet now you can get them without a cable subscription. Alternatively, you can buy a subscription through another service, like Apple or Amazon to watch through Amazon Fire TV or Apple TV Apps. They do have their own apps for TVs and mobile devices as well. These subscriptions will provide on-demand access to films currently running on the networks and all of their original shows and films which are often more recent titles than other streaming services. Their content is usually unavailable on other streaming services. A big perk is many episodes are posted the day they air, so you don’t have to wait for a season to finish before you can watch at your convenience. The key drawback is the only television series available are the network’s current and previous originals.
Price: $15 per month.
Content: HBO’s network app and is the combining of the previous HBO Now and HBO Go apps. This is the home to HBO content on-demand and can be used on multiple devices. HBO Max also includes all HBO content (and more) for the same price. We’re still not clear why there are two streaming options for the same content.
Price: $11 per month, or $9 per month when purchased through certain services, such as Amazon Prime and Hulu.
Content: Showtime is also available as a separate purchase from a cable-subscription. This will give you access to all Showtime shows and the films currently available on the channel.
Price: $9 per month.
Content: Like the others, the content is available without a cable subscription. Starz includes original series and films.
There are many live TV options that don’t require a cable box, just good Wi-Fi. A big thing to note is a few cell phone companies actually own TV networks and movie studios, so a jump to offering live TV isn’t chocking. AT&T is a branch off of AT&T’s cable service and Direct TV Now is also from AT&T through its satellite TV service. T-Mobile’s live TV offer is pretty focused on T-Mobile customers. Playstation Vue is only available through PlayStation game consoles, while Sling TV is available for most Smart TVs. Sling offers many cable networks and local channels but is tiered based on which channels you want to watch and can include cloud-based DVR for an extra $5/month. See the list below for all the live TV options from streaming services.
Price: Free for AT&T Unlimited and Unlimited Premium wireless subscribers, $15 per month for everyone else.
Price: $50 to $70 per month.
Hulu + Live TV
Price: $45 per month.
Price: $50 to $85 per month, depending on the package.
Price: Sling Orange costs $25 per month; Sling Blue costs $25 per month. A combined package costs $40 per month. Add-on packs cost $5 to $10 extra per month.
T-Mobile TVision Home
Price: $90 per month for 150-plus channels (at launch).
Price: $50 per month.
Content: Yes, a free streaming service! All Facebook Watch shows are free, though ads may occur, they rarely last longer than a few seconds. Like the rest of Facebook, it is free to use with an account. they have started to create originals like Sorry For Your Loss starring Elizabeth Olsen and Sacred Lies. Also, the Whedonverse came to Facebook Watch with all seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel available for free.
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Most For Your Money: Amazon Prime Video
Because Amazon Prime comes with so many different perks of membership, Prime Video being just one, it is hard to ignore the Amazon Prime service.
Best Bundle: Disney+ with Hulu and ESPN+
If you want all the things, this offers just shy of that. There is a lot of content available across these platforms to keep you busy. This bundle will be available starting November 12th.
Best Kept Secret: A huge majority of these services offer student pricing! If you have a “.edu” email you can verify your student status and get major discounts.
Best Originals: Hulu & Amazon Prime Video
Hulu and Amazon have dominated the Emmy awards for so many years, so I won’t choose between them. Netflix is close, but their original shows are slowing in the buzziness as of late, so we will keep an eye on what the new seasons have to offer.
Best Live TV: Hulu+ Live TV
Hulu’s Live TV is available on nearly all devices and works as an extension to your Hulu streaming experience, if you are already a Hulu fan and want to “cut-the-cord” from cable, I would start here.
Let the streaming wars begin!