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The Best Streaming Video Services

posted by on June 21, 2019 in Music & Video Services, Music and Video, Guides & Reviews, Top Picks :: 0 comments

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If you’re looking for a new show to stream, you have plenty of choices, with dozens of streaming services offering great options. But with so many services, it can be tough to decide just what’s worth your cord-cutting dollars.

Instead of subscribing to everything — and probably spending more than you did on cable television — we’ve put together a list of the best streaming services for everyone. All of these services offer quality content on demand that you can stream to most streaming media players to watch on your TV without hassle.

These are our favorite streaming services.

Best for Everyone: Netflix

As networks have started launching their own streaming services, Netflix has lost a lot of content, but it still offers more variety than other services. While Netflix still has plenty of your favorites (like Friends), the service has also built a massive catalog of original content that you can’t find anywhere else. While some services may lure you in with a show or two, Netflix releases high-quality new originals every week — and at least some of them are sure to suit your tastes. If you’re just going to subscribe to one streaming service, Netflix is it.

  • Quality: Up to 4K
  • Offline viewing: Yes 
  • Price: From $9 to $16 per month, depending on stream quality

Best for Amazon Subscribers: Amazon Prime Video

Like Netflix, Amazon has a broad selection of content and a good library of originals — even though its catalog isn’t quite as large as Netflix’s. But Amazon Prime Video offers some advantages Netflix does not, namely in letting you to subscribe to third party services — like CBS All Access and HBO — through Amazon, letting you manage them all in one place. While a growing number of services let you subscribe to extra channels, Amazon offers more channels, some with decent discounts.

But the biggest selling point is probably cost: if you subscribe to Amazon Prime, you already have Amazon Prime Video, so why not enjoy it?

  • Quality: Up to 4K
  • Offline viewing: Yes 
  • Price: $9/month just for Prime Video, or included with Amazon Prime for $120/year or $13/month

Best for Current TV Shows: Hulu

All of the streaming services on this list offer great content, but Hulu focuses on today’s TV shows. If you’re looking for your favorite network show, Hulu will usually have it streaming the next day — as well as previous seasons and plenty of classic TV shows. And not to be left out, Hulu has its own original content, like The Handmaid’s Tale. Best of all, it’s budget-friendly with a price starting at just $6.

However, if you want more in the way of live TV, Hulu + Live TV lets you stream 60+ channels live, with a cloud-based DVR to record anything you want to watch.

  • Quality: HD
  • Offline viewing: Coming in 2019
  • Price: $6/month with ads, $12/month without ads; Hulu + Live TV starts at $45

Best for Live TV Streaming: YouTube TV

If you want all of the great things about cable TV, but at a lower subscription cost, YouTube TV is your best option. While it’s one of the most expensive services at $50 per month, it’s still cheaper than many cable plans. For your $50, you can stream all major broadcast networks, and 70+ other channels live, including ESPN for live sports. YouTube TV also offers the best cloud DVR, letting you save as many shows as you want to watch and rewatch — unlike most other cloud DVR offerings, YouTube TV has no storage limits. 

Too expensive? Hulu + Live TV isn’t much less expensive at $45/month, but it offers nearly as many channels (60+) and has all major broadcast networks except for CW. For anything more budget-friendly, keep reading — but be aware that you’ll lose access to stream most major broadcast networks.

  • Quality: HD
  • Offline viewing: No
  • Price: $50/month

Best for Budget Live TV Streaming: AT&T WatchTV

If you’re looking to have access to some live TV, but you don’t need as many channels as pricier services like YouTube TV offer, AT&T WatchTV may be perfect. You won’t find any major networks — so no ABC, CBS, Fox, or NBC — but you will get 35 major networks, including AMC, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon, all for just $15 per month. If the channel list suits your viewing needs, this is a great budget subscription.

But if WatchTV doesn’t suit your needs, consider Philo (38 channels for $20/month) or Sling Blue (39 channels, including Fox and NBC, for $25/month). 

  • Quality: HD
  • Offline viewing: No
  • Price: $15/month

Best for New Movies (Plus Great Originals): HBO Now

Now that Game of Thrones has come to an end, you may see less reason to subscribe to HBO Now, but the network has a lot more to offer. It’s the best place to find recent films streaming, with a rotating collection of new and old favorites. Its collection of original shows (beyond Game of Thrones) shouldn’t be discounted either, with entertainment ranging from the dark historical drama Chernobyl to new (and classic) episodes of kid-friendly Sesame Street. There’s something for everyone on HBO. 

If HBO’s slate of shows doesn’t thrill you, consider Starz or Showtime, both of which offer a mix of recent movies and original shows. The best choice between the three probably depends on whose shows you're most interested in this season.

  • Quality: HD
  • Offline viewing: No
  • Price: $15/month

Best for Free Streaming: Pluto TV

Though it’s hard to complain about the cost, free streaming services do come with some caveats. Free services will have less to watch and few recent shows or movies. And just like watching live TV, you can expect ad breaks to cut into your viewing time. But if those are caveats you can live with; Pluto TV is as good as it gets. The service offers a selection of live channels — most of which you won’t have heard of, but all of which offer a good way to watch without thinking too hard about what to watch. The on demand selection also gives you lots of choices, but like any free service, doesn’t include recent releases. You don’t even need to make an account to watch Pluto TV: just go to the website and watch.

Don’t see anything you like on Pluto TV? Check out our guide to watching TV and movies for free.

  • Quality: HD
  • Offline viewing: No
  • Price: Free with ads

Best for Classic Movie Lovers: Criterion Channel

Most streaming services have a rather sad selection of classic films, but fortunately, there’s a streaming service purely devoted to the best cinema has to offer. The Criterion Channel offers over one thousand films — classic and contemporary — alongside original programming, all curated by the Criterion Collection. Though that’s far less than what you’ll find on most streaming services, it’s high quality content you can’t get anywhere else.

  • Quality: HD
  • Offline viewing: Yes
  • Price: $11/month or $100/year

Best for Horror Fans: Shudder

Most streaming services have a fair share of suspense and horror titles, but Shudder specializes entirely in frightening films. Shudder’s library is relatively small, but it has plenty of original and exclusive content you won’t find anywhere else. If horror is a must-have, nothing can compete with Shudder. 

  • Quality: HD
  • Offline viewing: No
  • Price: $6/month or $57/year

Best for Documentary Fans: CuriosityStream

Netflix and HBO both have excellent documentary options, but if you want more, CuriosityStream is the answer. This documentary-centric streaming service offers 2,400+ shows, including original documentaries that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s a low-cost subscription, starting at $3 per month, which is a decent value even if you only watch a couple of shows per month. 

  • Quality: Up to 4K
  • Offline viewing: Yes
  • Price: $3/month or $20/year for HD, $10/month or $70/year for 4K streaming

Coming Soon

You can subscribe to all of the services above right now, but more options are coming soon. Here's everything you have to look forward to over the next year.

Apple TV+

Apple is jumping into the streaming game with Apple TV+, which will focus on high-quality original content with big-name creators, including Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, and Oprah contributing. Though we’ve seen very little of Apple’s show lineup — only a short trailer covering every announced show — it already sounds impressive. A new Sesame Street series will teach coding concepts to kids, Oprah’s Book Club will hit TV screens with a series of author interviews, and Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Steve Carell will star in a drama about making a morning TV news show.

However, we don’t know one key piece of information: what it will cost. The service is launching this fall, so we’ll find out soon.

  • Quality: Up to 4K
  • Offline viewing: Yes
  • Available: Fall 2019
  • Price: Unknown

Disney Plus

Soon, this will be the only place to go if you want to stream Disney content — and Disney content has come to encompass a lot of our favorite shows. Disney Plus will be home not only to Disney and Pixar films but also all things Marvel and Star Wars. Beyond a large film and TV library, Disney Plus will have original series for Marvel, Star Wars, and more.

  • Quality: Up to 4K
  • Offline viewing: Yes
  • Available: November 12, 2019
  • Price: $7/month or $70/year

WarnerMedia streaming

We know that WarnerMedia plans to launch a streaming service, likely late 2019. The service will bundle HBO, Cinemax, and the Warner Bros library together in a single package, with the addition of original content. Several content deals are confirmed, including a partnership with J.J. Abrams and a Dune series, with the possibility for some original DC superhero programming as well.

As well as a pay subscription, some content will be available free with advertisements starting in 2020.

  • Quality: Unknown
  • Offline viewing: Unknown
  • Available: Late 2019
  • Price: $16 to $17/month

Discovery and BBC documentary streaming

This documentary-focused service will include both Discovery Channel staples like MythBusters and Shark Week well as BBC documentary programming like Planet Earth. That’s good news for documentary fans who want access to more on-demand documentary streaming, but bad news for subscribers of other services — like Netflix — that currently carry BBC documentaries.

  • Quality: Unknown
  • Offline viewing: Unknown
  • Available: 2020
  • Price: Unknown 

[Image credit: TV streaming concept via BigStockPhoto]



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