Which Paid Streaming Service Should I Use?
Netflix is the number one streaming service, and with its vast library of original movies, series, documentaries, stand-up specials, kids programming, and much more, it's easy to see why. Starting at $8.99 a month for the low quality stream and $12.99 for the HD stream, there's something for everyone, and even if there isn't, Netflix's DVD rental program is still an add-on to consider.
Netflix gained popularity initially by licensing popular TV shows and movies, but now many of the programs that were once on Netflix have moved to the streaming services of the companies that own them, so no more Friends and The Office. However, the rest of the companies without their own streaming platform generally choose to go with Netflix, so it's a good streaming service to have.
Considering Netflix's critically acclaimed and insanely popular original programming, Netflix is a must.
Hulu was once a partnership owned by many of the big players in TV. Because of this, it had a large library of shows from many of the top channels, causing it to be one of the big streaming platforms. Today, Hulu is owned only by Disney, and although a few channels, shows, and movies outside Disney remain on Hulu, much of Hulu's programming now is Disney owned.
Hulu is one part of Disney's OTT streaming strategy. Disney+ serves as the more family oriented platform, along with ESPN+ for sports fans. Hulu aims to compete with Netflix by offering ABC and FX's library of content, as well as originals that wouldn't fit with Disney+'s family marketing.
Although Hulu's one-stop TV shop is no longer the case anymore, there are still a lot of great shows from other companies on the platform, not to mention their original shows are highly rated, plus if you like ABC and FX shows, Hulu is still a recommended platform.
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime started as Amazon's subscription service for free two-day shipping, with some extra goodies included. One of those extras was Prime Video. Amazon has invested heavily into Prime Video by offering highly rated content, and licensing many TV shows and movies. Amazon's also been investing in sports, so your favorite sports team may be streaming there.
Amazon has a great deal of content, and if you've already subscribed for free shipping, it's a nice perk. The originals are good, but I'd look into if they have the content included with Prime that you care about first.
Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, and National Geographic fans will find plenty to love with this $6.99 streaming service. The price alone, especially compared to other services, is impulse territory. As long as you understand Disney+ won't have the wide range of content like Netflix, at its lower than average price, the fans of the mouse company will be happy.
HBO was the original Netflix, offering a premium selection of original shows and movies, all while licensing movies from other companies. The same can be said with HBO Max, an expansion of its many predecessors, offering more licensed shows like ViacomCBS's South Park and diving deep into WarnerMedia's massive library, which owns a little show called Friends. You can expect to see shows from TBS, TNT, TCM, TruTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, and CNN.
HBO has always charged a premium price for its content, so it's no surprise Max is $14.99, a tad higher than the competition. You get a good amount of content, including the incredibly popular Game of Thrones, still HBO Max may not be for everyone.
Comcast NBCUnivseral owns a great deal of content, from NBC, USA, SyFy, E!, in addition to tons more of news, sports, and entertainment. The plus side of Peacock is it offers a free version to dip your toes into the platform. There's a great deal of content available for free, including a Pluto TV style free live streaming section offering channels like SNL Vault, NBC News Now, Today All Day, and more.
Peacock Premium unlocks the entire platform at $4.99 with ads, and $9.99 ad-free, and there is a lot to watch, like including content from other companies Paramount Network's Yellowstone from ViacomCBS. If you can live with ads the low $5 price is enticing, but you've really got to love NBCUniversal to get full use out of it. Try it out for free and see if there's something you may like.
CBS All Access
I remember in 2014 questioning why CBS would want to start its own service over licensing its content on Hulu. I guess CBS saw the future would be streaming, and slowly it has gained subscribers. At $5.99 with ads and $9.99 ad-free, prior to the Viacom merger, content was limited to some movies and TV shows from other companies, and a whole lot of CBS, with some original programming. Now that Viacom is in the picture, the service will eventually be revamped to include a lot more programming from in house, as they already have done by adding more content from Paramount, BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, and Smithsonian Channel.
Until CBS All Access is revamped, there's still a lot of ViacomCBS content on other platforms, so although there's a Comedy Central section, South Park will be on HBO Max for at least 3 years, in addition to other active deals that have been made with ViacomCBS properties. Still, there's a lot of content, and its $5.99 price is in line with Peacock, however you really need to love ViacomCBS content, otherwise there's not a lot here yet. Eventually, Pluto TV will be the free entry into whatever CBS All Access will be, and Showtime will be the more premium addition, so keep an eye on CBS All Access if its current offerings don't interest you.
At $5 a month, Apple TV+ is in impulse territory, and there's a lot of great content on the service. Plus if you buy a new Apple device, you get a full year of the service. I just don't like the confusing name tied in with its streaming box Apple TV. The name implies the content can only be viewed on the device when it fact Apple TV+ is available on many platforms, so there's no cause for concern that you'll be able to find the service.
No matter what service you go with, even if you added all these platforms, you'll still be spending less than traditional cable TV. Pick the one that has the shows and movies you want, and enjoy saving some money!