Your guide to the best streaming services
Not long ago, it was crazy to imagine that there would be more than just the four major networks, and now, some of the best shows on television are being made on Sundance or FX. Over the last few years, the overflow of TV has found its way to the internet, where Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video aren’t just putting out content, they are putting out A LOT of it, much of it to critical and commercial acclaim. While those three have separated themselves from the streaming competition, there are plenty of other places to go for content both old and new, whether you’re looking to watch anime, catch-up with some Jersey Shore alums, or find out get your Baby Yoda fix.
Here is a rundown of your online streaming options.
SERVICES WITH ORIGINAL CONTENT
If British murder mysteries, comedies, and even documentaries are your cup of tea, then this American-based subscription service, with its extensive lineup of programming from across the pond, is perfect for you. Bonus: It also offers shows from Australia and Canada.
Sample Programming: And Then There Were None, Doc Martin, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
Cost: $5.99 a month; $59.99 a year. Also available as Amazon Prime Video add-on with seven-day free trial, then: $4.99 a month
Amazon Prime doesn’t just get you free two-day shipping; it also gets you access to Amazon’s streaming platform, which features original titles like Homecoming, Fleabag, and The Boys. As with Hulu, Prime Video features several optional add-ons, some of which encompass other streamers like Shudder, Showtime, Fandor, and Acorn TV.
Cost: $12.99 per month or $119 per year with additional add-ons available for purchase for viewers who do are not Amazon Prime members; basic streaming free for Amazon Prime members with additional add-ons available for purchase
Apple officially got in the streaming game in November 2019, launching with a star-studded slate of shows starring A-list talent: The Morning Show (starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell), Dickinson (Hailee Steinfeld); See (Jason Momoa); For All Mankind (Joel Kinnaman). Other shows include Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet and Servant.
Cost: Seven-day free trial, then: $4.99 a month; free for one year with purchase of an Apple device (iPhone, iPad, laptop), or with a student plan with Apple Music
Do you remember little Daniel Radcliffe before he was Harry Potter? Oh, you don’t? Well, you can see him here, along with a slew of other stars (Helen Mirren, Emma Thompson, Tom Hiddleston, and so many more) in their early British works. BBC Worldwide and ITV have joined forces for this new subscription VOD service featuring the best of British TV past and present.
Cost: Seven-day free trial, then: $6.99 month. Also available as Amazon Prime Video add-on with seven-day free trial, then: $6.99 month
Stream CBS live, plus watch old episodes of CBS shows on demand. The service offers up a library of more than 8,500 episodes, including current shows like Elementary and throwbacks like Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. You can also catch NFL games. Something tells us you’ll be signing up so you can watch exciting originals coming soon, too.
Cost: Seven-day free trial, then: $5.99 a month for limited commercials, $9.99 a month for commercial-free streaming; 15% discount for annual plans
Miss FilmStruck? The Criterion Channel has you covered. The Criterion Collection features curated selections from the company’s library as well as original content, such as exclusive interviews with acclaimed filmmakers.
Cost: $10.99 a month; $99.99 year
Anime lovers can get their fix with this streaming platform, which features hundreds of Japanese series, including Bleach, Dragon Ball Super, and Naruto Shippuden. Crunchyroll is free, but for a small monthly fee, subscribers get the benefit of no ads and being able to stream many series within an hour of their broadcast in Japan.
Cost: $7.99 for premium membership per month
Didn’t care for 2018’s Aquaman? Try the 2006 TV pilot! This service hosts all sorts of DC content, including original series like Titans and Doom Patrol, shows and movies both live-action and animated from DC’s catalog (including Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman show), and even selected comics.
Cost: $7.99 monthly; $74.99 yearly
Disney+ is the exclusive streaming home of the company’s movie library, including Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel films. Disney also has a plethora of original content, including the Star Wars series The Mandalorian, a Toy Story 4 spin-off Forky Asks a Question, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, a remake of Lady and the Tramp.
Facebook’s free streaming platform has several original series available, including Queen America, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones (!), Will Smith’s Bucket List, and the talk show Red Table Talk starring Smith's wife Jada Pinkett Smith, their daughter Willow Smith, and Jada's mom Adrienne Banfield-Jones, as well as some live sports. Shows range in length from around 5 to 50 minutes.
Launched in May 2020, the now-AT&T subsidiary’s streaming service will feature content from HBO as well as brands such as DC, Looney Tunes, Turner, The CW, and CNN, along with its hallmark franchises Wonder Woman, Harry Potter, LEGO, and Lord of the Rings, plus a trove of classic films. In addition to being the home of the Friends library, HBO Max original series include a Gossip Girl reboot, a Grease spin-off; movies starring Meryl Streep and Melissa McCarthy are also in the works.
Cost: No extra cost with HBO Now subscription (more below); $14.99 a month
In the past, if you wanted to go inside the New Jersey mob or go north of the wall, you’d have to subscribe to HBO on your cable platform. But now, the network’s extensive catalog is being offered as a standalone service. HBO Now includes the full runs of historic series such as The Wire and The Sopranos, plus the current seasons of hits like Westworld, The Plot Against America, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Last Week Tonight.
Cost: Seven-day free trial, then: $14.99 a month
In addition to such original series as The Handmaid’s Tale, Ramy, and Little Fires Everywhere, Hulu is the streaming home of essentially every FX series, including some that can only be found on the streaming service (Mrs. America, Devs). The service also features the current seasons of many shows as they air. You can expand your subscription with a live TV option, and with add-ons for HBO (which includes HBO Max access), Cinemax, Showtime, and Starz.
Cost: 30-day free trial (without live TV), then: plans start at $5.99 per month; bundled Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ for $12.99 per month; for subscriptions with live TV there is seven-day free trial, the plans start at $54.99 per month
Though the proliferation of streaming services has taken a toll on Netflix’s library, you can still find plentiful (though ever-changing) shows and movies on the platform, with a vast slate of original content including Stranger Things, BoJack Horseman, The Witcher, a heap of top-tier stand-up specials, and much, much more.
Cost: 30-day free trial, then: $8.99 to $17.99 per month
The new service from NBCUniversal features a robust library of shows and movies, including The Office, Saturday Night Live, Jurassic Park, and more. The platform will be the home of even more original movies and TV shows (new Battlestar Galactica series, Punky Brewster and Saved By the Bell reboots!), plus Olympics and other sports coverage, next-day streaming of NBC broadcast shows, and early access to the network’s slate of late-night programming.
Cost: An ad-supported version of Peacock will be free; ad-supported Peacock Premium which with double the amount of programming for $4.99 a month with option to upgrade to an ad-free Peacock Premium for $9.99 a month
This is the free streaming channel from PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly. Watch unlimited, full-length episodes at PEOPLE.com/PeopleTV or download the app for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Xumo, Chromecast, Xfinity, iOS, and Android devices.
Viewers can subscribe to Showtime without paying for a cable package. The service allows users to access Showtime content on the internet as well as on Apple and Roku devices.
Cost: $10.99 a month. Also available as Amazon Prime Video add-on with seven-day free trial, then: $10.99 a month
For those streaming on a budget, look no further. Sony’s Crackle is completely free and has a wide range of TV and movies, from fan-favorites like 3rd Rock From the Sun to critically acclaimed flicks like Captain Phillips.
The perfect place to catch up with Outlander — especially if your local cable provider dropped the channel from your service. Those pesky carriage deals!
Cost: $8.99 a month or $74.99 a year. Also available as Amazon Prime Video add-on with seven-day free trial, then: $8.99 a month
Sundance Now offers award-winning films, documentaries, and TV series — including Sundance Now Originals and hard-to-find classics — as well as curated collections by industry tastemakers.
Sample Programming: The Bureau, Nobu’s Japan, Iconoclasts
Cost: Seven-day free trial, then: $4.99 a month. Also available as Amazon Prime Video add-on with seven-day free trial, then: $6.99 a month
This enhanced experience of the YouTube platform allows you to watch videos without ads and even download them onto mobile devices to watch offline. It also offers access to its slowly growing library of original content featuring series created by and featuring certain popular YouTubers. What’s more, videos on the mobile app keep playing uninterrupted — perfect for when you accidentally exit to answer a call or text.
Cost: $11.99 a month
NO ORIGINAL CONTENT, BUT GREAT LIBRARIES
Theater fans, rejoice! This service works with Thirteen to round up filmed productions of plays and musicals in one place so you can experience Broadway without going broke. They also have plans to film even more shows under the BroadwayHD Originals banner.
Original Titles: Old Hats, The Woodsman
Cost: $8.99 a month; $99.99 a year. Also available as Amazon Prime Video add-on with seven-day free trial, then: $8.99 a month
Part movie streaming service, part film publication, Fandor is committed to the community. You’ll find news, original video essays, and quality hand-picked films in all different genres. Fandor gives 50 percent of revenue to the films’ rights holders.
Cost: $5.99 a month; $49.99 a year. Also available as Amazon Prime Video add-on with seven-day free trial, then: $3.99 a month
Mubi is the ultimate destination for film buffs — the service streams a curated selection of indie flicks, foreign films, and hundreds of critically acclaimed mainstream favorites like The Man With the Golden Arm and The Grand Budapest Hotel. The site also has a magazine that showcases interviews, movie reviews, and behind-the-scenes peeks, and a digital platform for fans to discuss what they’re loving.
Cost: $10.99 a month; $95.88 a year. Also available as Amazon Prime Video add-on with seven-day free trial, then: $5.99 a month
Though you probably could’ve guessed by its name, we’ll reassure you that your chances of finding a cute romantic comedy on Screambox are pretty slim. That’s because Screambox is home to hundreds of uncut and commercial-free horror movies and television programs from all around the world. The service is currently available on Xbox 360, iPad, Roku, PlayStation, Android tablets, Samsung Smart TVs, and Kindle Fire TVs.
Cost: $4.99 a month; $35.88 a year. Also available as Amazon Prime Video add-on with seven-day free trial, then: $4.99 a month
Shudder has a library of films to satisfy any horror fanatic, whether your favorite subgenre is gore, slasher, supernatural, or psychological. Also included in the user experience is Shudder.TV, the app’s own channel with horror films and television shows personally picked by curators. Shudder is currently available on iOS and Android devices and Roku.
Cost: Plans range from $4.75 a month to $5.99 a month. Also available as Amazon Prime Video add-on with seven-day free trial, then: $4.99 a month
If you’ve cut the cable cord but find yourself missing the channel-surfing experience, this is streaming platform for you. Pluto TV (which is owned by ViacomCBS) is designed to emulate good old-fashioned live TV, with more than 200 channels offering continuous movies and shows, all for free with ads. There are channels dedicated to classic film, cult movies, horror, you name it, as well as programming from MTV, Comedy Central, IFC, and more. The service is available online, as well as Android, iOS, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Roku.
Spuul offers 10,000 hours of Bollywood flicks in all different genres. The movies are available for streaming in more than six different Indian regional languages, and you can download any movie you want to watch offline.
Cost: $4.99 a month; $49.99 a year
Tubi TV offers an escape from subscription fees by allowing users to stream popular movies and television shows for the low, low cost of… well, absolutely nothing. But with a free streaming service comes ads, as you probably could’ve guessed. Tubi TV is available on Android and iOS mobile devices as well as OTT streaming devices such as Roku, Apple TV, Xbox 360, Amazon Fire TV, and more.
Viki specializes in Asian movies and TV shows (specifically Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and Taiwanese content). The title is a combination of the words video and wiki and crowdsources subtitles in multiple languages from fans.
Cost: Standard plan, $49.99 a year; Plus plan, $99.99 a year