With the release of NBC’s new streaming service, Peacock, Americans have more streaming options than ever. With such varied content, it can be challenging to decide which streaming services are worth their monthly charge.
We look at each of the eight major streaming services to help you decide if they are worth the price, considering factors like availability, price, content, variety, and user experience.
By far, the most universally known service, Netflix has pioneered streaming. A poll from HighSpeedInternet.com found that Netflix is people’s first choice in a streaming service. In addition to being the favorite, the streaming giant is available through all streaming devices, meaning users will always be able to access Netflix easily.
At $12.99 per month, Netflix is moderately priced in comparison to its competition. It’s slightly higher-than-average price can be attributed to its influx of original content.
Beginning with 2013’s House of Cards and continuing through today, Netflix has been on the forefront of creating original content for the service, instead of licensing previously made content. Because of this, Netflix subscribers can be certain that they will have new films and television shows to watch each week.
Another fantastic perk of Netflix is its varied content library. Since Netflix does not have a specific niche, it can host many different genres. Whether you’re looking for a horror movie, comedy, children’s cartoon, or foreign film, you’ll be able to find something to watch on Netflix.
Netflix has a clean, sleek design that makes it simple to use. However, their ever-rotating home screen features much of the same content in different categories, so it is much easier to navigate using the search bar instead of endlessly scrolling through the home screen.
Related: 9 easy ways to get a free Netflix account
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Back in the day, Hulu was actually free, but now the service offers users different prices depending on the level of subscription. A $5.99 monthly subscription unlocks all of the content on Hulu, but that includes ads.
The ads can be removed by upgrading to the premium plan at $11.99 per month. Hulu offers an ad-free package that also gives subscribers access to live television like the news. This package starts at $54.99 per month, making it hands-down the most expensive.
Hulu’s primary focus is on television. Of course, they still offer some fantastic films to stream, but they are more concerned with providing users timely, newly released episodes and full seasons of shows. Many shows have exclusive deals with Hulu, so a new episode can be available one day after it debuts on cable.
Similar to Netflix, Hulu has a wide variety of content. They offer shows for all audiences, from a young toddler to an adult. Furthermore, their expansive streaming library offers many different “classic” shows, making for a fun trip down memory lane.
Hulu is currently only available in America and Japan, so it is not universally known or used internationally. The service is compatible with all streaming devices, including Roku, Google Chromecast, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV Stick.
Hulu is also incredibly user friendly and creates curated lists of different shows and movies every month, making sure users always have something to watch. However, the service often recycles the same advertisements, which can become repetitive and annoying.
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Prime Video comes with the annual purchase of Amazon Prime. Its yearly price tag of $119 can seem expensive, but it comes out to just under $10 per month. Keep in mind the added perks of Amazon Prime — like free two-day shipping — and it can undoubtedly be worth the price.
Similarly to Netflix, Amazon has been creating original content for its streaming service for years, like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Boys, Homecoming, and Sneaky Pete. In addition to its original content, Prime Video also offers a plethora of licensed films and television shows for users to watch.
Prime Video can now be accessed through almost all streaming devices, including Apple TV, Roku, Google Chromecast, and not surprisingly, Amazon Fire TV Stick. Since 2016, Prime Video has been available in over 200 countries, making it one of the most readily available streaming services.
The user experience of navigating through Prime Video dramatically varies. I have experienced many glitches when trying to browse through its library, yet sometimes it appears on my television screen with no issue. I have found that unplugging and restarting my Roku usually resolves this issue, but after having this same problem for years, I believe it could’ve been fixed by now.
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Formally HBO Go and HBO Now, Warner Brothers has consolidated all of its HBO content with Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies, DC Universe, Sesame Street, Studio Ghibli, and Looney Tunes for an expansive and varied streaming library.
This is one of the most expensive services, with a $14.99 monthly charge. However, many have taken advantage of offers from their cable providers who are offering HBO Max at a discounted rate (rates may vary depending on your service provider).
Due to the different international licensing deals, HBO Max is planning for a slow global rollout in 2021. However, the service is not currently available through Roku or Amazon Fire TV Stick, two of the most widely used streaming devices. Because of this, many people with HBO accounts are still unable to access HBO Max.
If you can access the service, HBO Max is has a streamlined homepage with clearly defined subcategories that make navigating through the service incredibly easy.
While HBO continues to be an influential producer of original content, the HBO Max specific content is currently lacking. With only a handful of original shows, all having dialed to reach the pop culture zeitgeist, their original content is not capturing audiences’ attention.
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With a $5.99 per month price tag, Disney+ is one of the cheapest streaming options available. Disney+ offers subscribers full access to the expansive Disney catalog, including classic films and cartoons, modern television shows, forgotten flicks from childhood, and an abundance of Marvel and Star Wars content.
All of the content on Disney+ is family-friendly, so parents can be confident in letting their children use it. The navigation is also easy enough for anyone, whether it’d be a small child or adult, to use the service with ease.
This streaming service is currently only available in the United States and a handful of European nations, with plans for an international rollout within the next year. While its content is not available worldwide, Disney+ is still more accessible than other services like HBO Max. Disney+ is available on practically all streaming devices, making it easy to access.
While Disney has only released a small amount of original content, that content has captured the nation’s attention. Remember last Christmas when everyone was talking about Baby Yoda and The Mandalorian? This month, Disney+ released a filmed recording of Hamilton, which has introduced the Broadway sensation to a much wider audience.
Disney+ might not be cranking out content every week like Netflix, but when it releases a new film or show, it is safe to assume that it will be a hit.
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Peacock is NBC’s new streaming service, and it offers three different tiers of content. The service is available for free with commercials, and limited content, a $4.99 monthly plan contains all of the service’s content but still has commercials and a $9.99 per month premium plan offers all of the content and no commercials.
Similarly to HBO Max, Peacock is not currently available on Roku or Amazon Fire TV Stick, limiting its availability. Additionally, the service is only available in the United States.
Peacock has a few original titles like Brave New World, but it primarily features NBC shows and Universal films. There is a fair amount of expansive content on Peacock, meaning users are likely to find some shows that are absolutely worth their time. Peacock plans to be the exclusive service for classic shows like Friends, The Office, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, and more.
The Peacock app is wonderfully designed. It is clear, easy to navigate, and includes a feature that runs specific content on a loop. For example, Peacock has many channels that exclusively play specific types of content like true crime documentaries, The Today Show, and Hell’s Kitchen. This feature makes it easier than ever to find something to watch instead of endlessly scrolling for something new and entertaining.
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CBS All Access
While NBC is just getting into the streaming game with Peacock, CBS has had CBS All Access for years. It offers two tiers of content: a $5.99 per month option with commercials, and a $9.99 per month commercial-free option.
CBS All Access features some original content in addition to classic and current CBS Shows. The service hosts the high profile Jordan-Peele-produced reboot of The Twilight Zone and originals like Star Trek: Discovery and The Good Fight. Its library seems less expansive when comparing it to the other streaming services, but fans of specific shows like Star Trek or Blue Bloods may find it to be worthwhile.
CBS All Access is currently only available to subscribers within the United States. However, it is readily available on various streaming platforms, including Roku, giving many Americans easy access to the content.
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Apple TV+ is available for $4.99 per month. However, Apple is currently running a promotion that offers a year of free service with the purchase of a new iPhone or Mac, giving users an extended free trial.
The streaming service has begun creating exclusive content like The Morning Show starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, Defending Jacob starring Chris Evans and the animated Central Park.
While Apple TV+ is, of course, an Apple product, the service is still accessible through Roku and Amazon Fire TV Stick in addition to Apple TV, yet it is inaccessible through Google Chromecast.
This streaming service has a sleek design and offers a clean user experience. However, Apple TV+ does not have a wide variety of content, therefore making its streaming library seems empty — especially when comparing it to the competition.
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So, How Do You Choose?
We are being inundated with new streaming services, seeming like there is a new one coming out every month. Currently, I believe that Netflix, Hulu with ads, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and the free version of Peacock are worth the price.
Conversely, I find CBS All Access and Apple TV+ not to be worth their monthly price tag. The services simply do not offer enough content to justify paying for yet another streaming service.
Users do not need to be subscribed to all of the services simultaneously. Many people have begun signing up for a single service, watching all of its content, and then canceling their membership before signing up for a different streaming service. This is known as hopping between streaming services, and as more brands enter the market, expect this hopping to become more widespread.
Many people have cut their cable cords and now rely exclusively on streaming services, and this is becoming more practical each year. With most cable packages starting at upwards of $70 per month, it’s no surprise why many people are ditching cable and sticking with streaming. If readers choose the five services, I recommended as worth their price, their monthly bill would be less than $35.
If someone is less concerned with price and wants to stop fussing with cable boxes or, like many others, has become dissatisfied with their cable provider, consider Hulu’s Live TV option for the ability to watch programs as they air on traditional television.
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Keep Your Devices in Mind.
As you consider making the switch from traditional cable, pay attention to your specific streaming devices. While Roku devices may be the most universal, the company is making it increasingly difficult to access new streaming services.
Amazon Fire TV Sticks have a similar tactic so that you may find yourself without access to all services. I recommend Google Chromecast, as this device is compatible with all major streaming services and allows you to stream to your television directly from your phone. Simply download the app and cast it to your TV; it’s that easy!
If you find yourself spending most of your time streaming content instead of scrolling through your cable options, you might want to consider sticking with streaming to save a considerable amount of money. As long as you continue to have high-speed internet and a streaming device connected to each television, you will soon forget the days of paying for cable television.
This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.org.