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Our Guide to 14 of the Best TV Streaming Services

With streaming services growing in popularity, many companies are offering their own version.

Whether you’re cutting ties with cable or trying to supplement your current service, you want to find what works with your budget and personal taste.

You can’t subscribe to them all, so which do you pick?

Don’t worry. We’ve compared 14 of the most popular streaming services on the market so you don’t have to.

How Are All the Streaming Services Different?

Do you like classic TV shows like Friends or would you rather be captivated by a new show like Severance? Do you want to be romanced by Bridgerton or laugh with the Belchers in Bob’s Burgers?

A lot of the streaming services run different promotions that cut the cost, but what about the services themselves and their content?

The platforms that are home to these shows each have their own catalog, unique features and price tags. Your reasons for picking one or the other may include original content, classic show selection, live streaming capability, affordability or some combination of all.

You could always check out our list of free tv apps, but keeping up with the latest TV show to storm the internet sometimes takes a subscription.

Get your favorite movie snack ready and read the pros and cons to decide which platform is right for you.

Streaming Services at a Glance

Service Base Monthly Rate Trial Period Number of Screens Best For
Hulu $6.99 30 days 2 Seeing shows the day after they ai
Netflix $9.99 None 1 Original programming
Amazon Prime Video Free w/ membership; $8.99/month without 30 days 3 X-ray feature
YouTube TV $64.99 7 days 3 Live TV
Disney+ $7.99 None 4 Disney & Marvel content
Paramount+ $4.99 7 days 3 Crime dramas
Sling TV Some content free; $35 or $50 packages 7days 1 screen for Orange & 3 for Blue Low-cost, live TV
Peacock Some content free; $4.99 for all 7-day trial for Premium 3 Sampling
Apple TV+ $4.99 7 days 6 Apple users
AMC+ $6.99-$8.99 7 days 5 Horror
The CW Free None n/a DC content
STARZ $8.99 Promotions vary 4 Starz historical dramas
Showtime $10.99 30 days n/a Cheaper sports option
HBO Max $9.99 None (has free episodes) 3 New release movie streaming

Take Your Pick of 14 Streaming Services

We have assessed 14 streaming services, including pricing and content focus, so you can pick the one that’s right for you.

Why Choose Hulu

How much: One-month free trial. Plans start at $6.99 per month for limited commercials, $12.99 per month for no commercials and $69.99 per month for an ad-supported Hulu + Live TV with Disney+ and ESPN+. HBO Max, Showtime, Cinemax and Starz are available as add-ons. Students can get the $6.99/month plan for a discounted $1.99/month with verified enrollment.

Available on: Laptops and desktops, phones, tablets, game consoles, smart TVs, Blu-ray players, and streaming media players such as Roku and Amazon Fire Stick.

You can add as many different devices as you want to your account, but you can only stream to two at a time (Live TV subscriptions have an unlimited screen add-on). If you’re out of the house, you can stream from up to three mobile devices at once.

Biggest Pro: Episodes of some current TV shows are available the day after they air.

Biggest Con: Less breadth and depth of programming comparatively.

Best for: Viewers who watch a lot of current U.S.-based TV programming and want to see episodes they’ve missed as soon as possible.

Why Choose Netflix

How much: Three plan options beginning at $9.99 per month up to $19.99 per month, depending on the number of devices and type of HD you want. All are ad-free.

Available on: Laptops and desktop computers, phones, tablets, game consoles, smart TVs, Blu-ray players and streaming media players such as Roku and Amazon Fire Stick.

You can add as many different devices as you want to your account and stream content to up to four at a time, depending on the plan you choose.

Biggest Pro: Netflix has tons of original programming.

Biggest Con: Available seasons of currently-airing TV shows are usually at least a year old, so prepare to avoid spoilers for a long time.

Best for: Viewers who like a lot of original content choices across a variety of genres.

Why Choose Amazon Prime Video

How much: 30-day free trial. Free with an eligible Amazon Prime membership or $8.99 per month. Premium channels like HBO and Showtime are available for an additional monthly charge.

Available on: Laptops and desktop computers, phones, tablets, game consoles, smart TVs and streaming media players such as Roku and Amazon Fire Stick.

You can stream up to three videos at a time.

Biggest Pro: Prime Video’s X-ray feature lets you access actor bios, background information, trivia, bonus content, music info and other show-related information.

Biggest Con: It’s sometimes difficult to determine what content is included in your subscription and what costs extra.

Best For: People who already have an eligible Prime Membership.

Why Choose YouTube TV

How much: YouTube TV offers a 7-day free trial, then the base plan is $64.99 per month. There is also a Spanish plan for $34.99 per month.

Available on: Laptops and desktop computers, phones, tablets, game consoles, smart TVs, streaming media players and Google Nest Hub.

You can have up to six accounts on your plan and stream on up to three devices at the same time.

Biggest Pro: You’ll have plenty of shows to choose from with 85 channels, plus you get unlimited cloud DVR storage for free.

Biggest Con: There’s no option for ad-free viewing. You can pause or DVR to fast forward through ads, but they’re still there.

Best For: Those who still want a live TV experience without the cable cost.

Why Choose Disney+

How much: If you opt for Disney+ by itself, you’ll pay $7.99 per month or $79.99 per year.

Available on: Laptops and desktop computers, phones, tablets, game consoles, smart TVs and streaming media players such as Roku and Amazon Fire Stick.

Disney+ subscribers can have seven profiles on one account with four devices streaming at once.

Biggest Pro: You get the majority of the Disney library all in one place, plus the Marvel and Star Wars franchises.

Biggest Con: Premier Access, the option to watch a new release movie early, is expensive at $30.

Best For: Disney and Marvel lovers of any age.

Why Choose Paramount+

How much: 7-day free trial. You can get the Essential plan for $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year. Upgrade to Premium for no ads and pay $9.99/month or $99.99/year. Paramount+ also has an optional Showtime add-on. Verified college student accounts get 25 percent off an Essential monthly subscription.

Available on: Laptops and desktop computers, phones, tablets, game consoles, smart TVs and streaming media players such as Roku and Amazon Fire Stick.

You’ll get three simultaneous streams and six profiles.

Biggest Pro: You get early access to Paramount movies.

Biggest Con: The library is limited to CBS and Viacom programs.

Best For: Fans of classic crime dramas like NCIS or CSI, Trekkies and kids who can’t get enough of Paw Patrol.

Why Choose Sling TV

How much: You can check out Sling TV at no cost with their free option. To unlock more content, you can subscribe to either the Orange and Blue base plans for $35 per month, or combine both options for $50 per month. You can then add extras or Premium features for an additional cost. Sling TV was offering a special in spring 2022 that gave new customers half off their first month with all deals or get a free AirTV Mini when they prepaid for two months.

Available on: Laptops and desktop computers, phones, tablets, Xbox, smart TVs and streaming media players such as Roku and Amazon Fire Stick.

The number of screens that can stream at once depends on the plan. Orange only streams on one device, while Blue can stream on three.

Biggest Pro: It’s the most budget friendly of the live TV options.

Biggest Con: It has the least amount of available channels compared to competitors.

Best For: People who want live TV without the high cost.

Why Choose Peacock

How much: Peacock’s base plan is free. Unlock the entire Peacock library with the Premium plan for $4.99 per month and ditch (most) ads with Premium Plus at $9.99 per month.

Available on: Laptops and desktop computers, phones, tablets, game consoles, smart TVs and streaming media players such as Roku and Amazon Fire Stick.

You can stream on up to three devices at a time.

Biggest Pro: The free version is littered with Premium only content, so it’s hard to navigate.

Biggest Con: Only select episodes of shows are included in the free version.

Best For: People who like to sample shows before binging.

Why Choose Apple TV+

How much: You can try the 7-day free trial, then pay $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year. If you use other Apple services, you can choose the Apple One bundle to get Apple TV+, Apple Music, Apple Arcade and 50 GB iCloud storage starting at $14.95/month.

Available on: iPhone, iPad, Mac, smart TVs, game consoles, streaming media players and Amazon Fire devices.

Apple TV+ allows a single account to stream six devices at once.

Biggest Pro: At $4.99/month, it’s one of the cheaper options available. Also, Apple TV+ is focusing on producing quality original content, like CODA, the first direct-to-streaming film to win an Oscar.

Biggest Con: The downside of a focus on original content means that the Apple TV+ library is limited compared to competitors.

Best For: Apple product users and those who want to focus on quality programming.

What About Channel Specific Services?

The majority of channels now have their own streaming services, but combining them all can get expensive as cable. Is it worth it to have a specific channel? That depends on your tastes.

Why Choose AMC+

How much: You can try 7 days free, then AMC+ costs $6.99 to $8.99 per month, depending on where you sign up for subscription. Subscribing through AMC directly also has an $83.88 per year option. AMC+ includes content from AMC, IFC and IFC Films Unlimited, BBC America, SundanceTV, Sundance Now and Shudder.

Available on: Laptops and desktop computers, phones, tablets and smart TVs. If you subscribe to AMC+ through another service, you’ll have to access AMC+ through that provider’s app.

Direct subscribers can stream on up to 5 devices at once.

Biggest Pro: Subscribers get early access to some select AMC shows.

Biggest Con: The app isn’t very user friendly and needs some work.

Best For: The catalog is great for fans of horror and AMC specific content.

Why Choose The CW

How much: The CW app is free.

Available on: Laptops and desktop computers, phones, tablets, Xbox One, smart TVs and streaming media players such as Roku and Amazon Fire Stick.

Biggest Pro: It’s free and requires no account or subscription.

Biggest Con: No subscription means you don’t get the usual features like watch lists.

Best For: Fans of DC and dramas like Riverdale.

Why Choose STARZ

How much: Starz is $8.99 per month. The service also usually runs sign-up promotions that give you a discount off your first few months.

Available on: Laptops and desktop computers, smartphones, streaming media players, Xbox and smart TVs.

You can stream on up to four devices at a time.

Biggest Pro: Starz has a large library of popular dramas and blockbuster movies.

Biggest Con: The Starz app is lacking compared to competitors.

Best For: Fans of Starz historical dramas like The White Princess and Outlander.

Why Choose Showtime

How much: 30-day free trial, then the service is $10.99/month or $99/year.

Available on: Laptops and desktop computers, smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, game consoles, streaming media players, Oculus and Facebook Portal TV.

You can stream on up to three devices at a time.

Biggest Pro: There’s a good selection of quality shows.

Biggest Con: Its library is smaller compared to competitors.

Best For: Those who want sports selections without the live TV price tag.

Why Choose HBO Max

How much: The ad-supported plan is $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year. Ditch the ads for $14.99 per month or $149.99 per year. HBO Max offers a selection of free episodes instead of a timed free trial.

Available on: Laptops and desktop computers, smart TVs, tablets, smartphones and game consoles.

Biggest Pro: Get access to an impressive library of popular shows like Friends and Game of Thrones and stream Warner Bros movies 45 days after their theatrical release.

You can stream on up to three devices at once.

Biggest Con: The ad-free version is one of the more expensive monthly options.

Best For: People who want access to the most popular movies, series and shows.

What Are Some Other Streaming Options?

We’ve covered the big ones, but there are other streaming services out there. Xumo, Pluto, fuboTV and Tubi TV are all free, ad-supported options that offer Live TV. Philo TV offers dozens of live, streaming and on-demand channels for $25 per month.

If you or your kids are a fan of anime, you can stream free programs through merging services Crunchyroll and Funimation.

Choosing Streaming Services

With so much variety between streaming services, it’s hard to say which one is the winner.

Should you prioritize cost, live tv options, quality of content, timeliness of release or even number of screens?

It just comes down to preference.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Streaming Services

We’ve rounded up the answers to the most commonly asked questions about streaming

Which Streaming Service is Free?

There are several free options with Sling TV, Peacock, The CW, Zumo, Pluto, fuboTV and Tubi TV. Amazon Prime Video is free with a Prime subscription, which costs $139 a year.

What is a Streaming Service?

Streaming services provide entertainment such as music or movies through internet connection so content can be accessed immediately. The programming includes old and new movies, documentaries, original programming plus current and old network dramas and sitcoms. 

What is Required for a Streaming Service?

To stream content, you’ll need an internet connection and a device capable of internet access. Depending on the service, you might also need an account or credit card. Those devices can include smartphones, tablets, laptops or even game consoles.

Do I Need a Smart TV to Stream?

No. You can use any device with an internet connection, such as phones, tablets, laptops or even game consoles to stream programming. 

Contributor Jenna Limbach writes on financial literacy and lifestyle topics for The Penny Hoarder.


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