Looking on the apps on my Roku TV market — Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, Apple TV Plus, and Crunchyroll, simply to call just a few — I’m overwhelmed on the veritable avalanche of streaming providers accessible to me. With Disney Plus going robust, and HBO Max and NBC’s Peacock on the horizon, the streaming wars, ushered in by an period of Peak TV, are in full impact.
No one can watch the whole lot; time and money are finite assets, in any case. To make it a little bit simpler on you (and your pockets), we right here at Polygon broke down practically each streaming service — how a lot it prices, what to look at, and who ought to subscribe — from the massive guys like Netflix to area of interest collections like Mubi.
A phrase of recommendation: If you’re going to make the most of a free trial to binge a present on a service you’re in any other case tired of (which it is best to! it’s free!), set a reminder in your cellphone or sensible residence gadget to cancel earlier than the trial ends. Companies are relying on you to neglect about it.
Netflix vs. Amazon vs. Hulu vs. Disney vs. Apple Plus
For just a few years now, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu have been the standard-bearers for streaming. Netflix is the O.G., Hulu’s obtained essentially the most present exhibits, and, effectively, Amazon is Amazon. But whereas Disney CEO Bob Iger has explicitly acknowledged that Disney Plus gained’t compete with Netflix by way of quantity, a Disney streaming service is disruptive sufficient to think about it one of many huge guys. Ditto for Apple TV Plus, for which Apple threw large quantities of manufacturing cash behind tentpole sequence. So let’s break down the Big Five.
Amazon Prime Video
In addition to free one-day transport, reductions at Whole Foods, and unique Twitch advantages, one of many largest Amazon Prime perks is entry to the corporate’s streaming service. Amazon Prime Video presents an enormous library of free content material for subscribers, together with unique TV exhibits and flicks alongside licensed properties.
Amazon Video is without doubt one of the few video-on-demand platforms to supply different streaming providers as add-ons. With Amazon Channels, Prime members can subscribe to providers like HBO or Shudder with out leaving the Amazon Video app. Notably, although, its largest opponents — Hulu and Netflix — aren’t accessible by way of Amazon Channels … but.
What it prices: $119/yr; $12.99/month (30-day free trial)
Who ought to subscribe: Amazon consumers
What to look at: Fleabag, Catastrophe, Too Old to Die Young, Good Omens, anime
When to cancel: when the price of different Prime perks outweighs the advantages
Subscribe right here: Amazon
Apple TV Plus
Unlike Hulu or Netflix, Apple isn’t licensing third-party content material for Apple TV Plus. At least at launch, Apple TV Plus is solely a hub for Apple’s personal unique programming. Structurally, it’s nearer to a premium over-the-top add-on like HBO Now than a serious platform like Amazon. Still, Apple brings a signature Silicon Valley polish — to not point out heaps of cash — to its spectacular roster, which incorporates huge names like Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, Jennifer Aniston, and Oprah.
What it prices: $4.99/month (seven-day free trial; 12-month free trial with buy of a brand new iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV)
Who ought to subscribe: new iPhone house owners (and Peak TV completionists)
What to look at: Dickinson, The Elephant Queen, Mythic Quest
When to cancel: if/when programming doesn’t stay as much as the hype
Subscribe right here: Apple
Disney Plus presents unique programming just like the Star Wars spinoff The Mandalorian and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, however its largest draw is Disney’s again catalog. More than something, Disney Plus is proof that Disney owns a mind-numbing assortment of IP. A Twitter thread detailing each film and TV present within the Disney Plus library ran greater than 600 tweets lengthy — and that’s simply the content material that was accessible at launch.
What it prices: $69.99/yr; $6.99/month (seven-day free trial)
Who ought to subscribe: followers of Disney or Marvel or Pixar or Star Wars or The Simpsons or National Geographic …
What to look at: The Mandalorian, basic Disney animation, DCOMs
When to cancel: when Disney stops churning out zeitgeist-commanding content material (so, in all probability by no means)
Subscribe right here: Disney
Of the most important streaming providers, Hulu is the best choice for cord-cutters who need to sustain with present TV exhibits. NBC, Fox, and a few cable networks drop episodes onto the platform the day after they air, which implies you don’t have to attend for a complete season to be launched on Amazon or Netflix earlier than catching up along with your favourite sequence. That’s along with loads of unique programming, licensed content material, and premium cable add-ons.
[Note: Hulu additionally presents a stay TV possibility, which is detailed within the Live TV part under.]
What it prices: $5.99/month ad-supported; $11.99/month ad-free (30-day free trial)
Who ought to subscribe: recovering DVR hoarders
What to look at: Shrill, PEN15, Little Fires Everywhere, presently working community exhibits
When to cancel: if must-watch community exhibits don’t hold you coming again
Subscribe right here: Hulu
The Xerox of streaming providers, Netflix has been in a position to keep high canine (or at the least considered one of a small litter of high canine) by a mix of churning out unique content material and shopping for up the rights to vastly fashionable licensed properties like Friends and The Office. Now that a lot of that third-party IP is leaving the platform for varied streaming providers, Netflix will doubtless double down on its originals, in addition to proceed to look overseas for licensing alternatives — international actuality exhibits like The Great British Baking Show and Terrace House appear to be a wealthy vein.
What it prices: $8.99/month for Basic; $12.99/month for Standard; $15.99/month for Premium (30-day free trial)
Who ought to subscribe: TV bingers
What to look at: Stranger Things, American Vandal, I Think You Should Leave, Grace and Frankie, Aggretsuko, Terrace House, The Great British Baking Show, The Witcher, Love is Blind
When to cancel: When you’ve binged all you’ll be able to binge or the output appears like overload
Subscribe right here: Netflix
TV channels with streaming providers
Traditional TV networks have needed to adapt to the streaming revolution with the intention to keep related. While practically each TV community has an app from which cable subscribers can watch its exhibits, a number of at the moment are providing over-the-top providers with unique content material and stay streaming.
BET’s mother or father firm, Viacom, collaborated with Tyler Perry Studios on the BET Plus service, a streaming library crammed with content material from black creators. BET Plus presents ad-free entry to BET exhibits like Being Mary Jane, Tyler Perry’s again catalog, different Viacom exhibits like VH1’s Basketball Wives, and new unique sequence together with a reboot of The First Wives Club from Girls Trip author Tracy Oliver.
What it prices: $9.99/month (seven-day free trial)
Who ought to subscribe: Tyler Perry and/or Girls Trip followers
What to look at: The First Wives Club, Being Mary Jane, Tyler Perry’s filmography
When to cancel: if The First Wives Club doesn’t get a season 2
CBS All Access
CBS All Access’ unique content material has largely flown beneath the radar, except for its Star Trek sequence, Star Trek: Discovery and Picard. The service additionally presents ad-free CBS exhibits, in addition to stay TV streaming — together with CBS Sports and the CBS-owned ET Live.
What it prices: $5.99/month ad-supported; $9.99/month ad-free (seven-day free trial)
Who ought to subscribe: Trekkies
What to look at: Star Trek: Discovery, The Good Fight
When to cancel: in between Star Trek exhibits
Though it doesn’t boast the sort of critically acclaimed unique programming that different premium cable channels have — together with its proprietor, HBO — Cinemax is residence to a large assortment of blockbuster motion pictures.
What it prices: $9.99/month (seven-day free trial)
Who ought to subscribe: mid-2000s cinephiles
What to look at: no matter your favourite film was in highschool
When to cancel: as quickly as you go a month with out utilizing it
If you watch quite a bit (and I imply a lot) of sports activities, ESPN Plus is a worthy funding. The $4.99 month-to-month subscription presents stay streaming of seemingly each sport possible, together with pay-per-view UFC fights. There’s additionally some unique programming accessible, in addition to the complete 30 for 30 archives and unique writing from ESPN journalists.
What it prices: $49.99/yr; $4.99/month
Who ought to subscribe: sports activities followers
What to look at: stay sports activities, 30 for 30 archives
When to cancel: when your cable bundle consists of stay sports activities
Subscribe right here: ESPN
HBO mother or father firm WarnerMedia launched a brand new over-the-top service, HBO Max, in May 2020. “Anchored by HBO programming,” the platform additionally consists of different Warner properties, just like the Harry Potter movie sequence. (Notably, Friends left Netflix for HBO Max, and WarnerMedia nabbed unique rights to the Studio Ghibli assortment, too.) It prices the identical $14.99 as HBO Now, and most HBO subscribers had their subscription transformed to HBO Max routinely.
Despite a messy launch, HBO Max has a lot of excellent content material, together with all the HBO again catalog, Studio Ghibli movies, and DC superhero motion pictures. It additionally has a full schedule of unique programming, like new Adventure Time specials, actuality competitors exhibits, and naturally, the Justice League Snyder Cut.
What it prices: $14.99/month (seven-day free trial)
Who ought to subscribe: FOMOOGT (worry of lacking out on good TV) victims
What to look at: Succession, Studio Ghibli movies, Adventure Time Distant Lands (accessible June 25)
When to cancel: if the price is raised greater than HBO
Subscribe right here: HBO Max | Hulu
Yes, the History Channel presents its personal OTT streaming service, although sadly the perfect History Channel present of all time, Knife or Death, is absent from History Vault. Still, historical past buffs is likely to be within the spectacular library of docu-series.
What it prices: $4.99/month (seven-day free trial)
Who ought to subscribe: historical past buffs
What to look at: Ice Road Truckers, Rise & Fall, The Men Who Built America
When to cancel: earlier than you turn out to be your dad
NBC’s second foray into the streaming wars (RIP Seeso) will embody next-day entry to present broadcast exhibits, a set of basic sequence, and loads of unique programming. Though lets face it, it’ll at all times and eternally be often called the streaming service that took The Office away from Netflix.
Peacock launched on April 15 for Comcast Xfinity X1 and Flex subscribers, and can roll out to most of the people on July 15.
What it prices: free ad-supported (with solely “select episodes” of Peacock originals); $4.99/month ad-supported (free for Comcast and Cox subscribers); $9.99/month ad-free
Who ought to subscribe: comedy nerds, basic TV followers, and people who want The Office to go to sleep
What to look at: SNL archives, Shrek, Saved By the Bell and Punky Brewster reboots, MacGruber, The Adventure Zone
When to cancel: you’ll be able to at all times simply downgrade to the free model
Since PBS is a public broadcaster, its streaming service works a little bit in a different way. Rather than prospects paying for the Passport service outright, PBS presents it totally free to its supporters. Essentially, should you donate a sure sum of money to PBS (often $60/yr), you get entry to the streaming service.
What it prices: varies — examine your native station
Who ought to subscribe: PBS supporters
What to look at: Downton Abbey, Ken Burns’ Country Music, Antiques Roadshow
When to cancel: don’t cancel — assist your native media!
Donate to PBS right here: PBS
Showtime’s streaming choices are a little bit complicated. Much like HBO, Showtime separates customers primarily based on whether or not they subscribe by a conventional cable supplier. Showtime Anytime is the streaming add-on for cable subscribers, whereas the streaming-only stand-alone model is simply known as “the Showtime streaming service.”
What it prices: $109.90/yr; $10.99/month (14-day free trial)
Who ought to subscribe: Halo followers
What to look at: On Becoming a God in Central Florida, The Chi, Billions
When to cancel: Wait till the Halo sequence to subscribe, cancel if the Halo sequence is unhealthy
Premium cable firm Starz is the house of American Gods, which is a favourite amongst nerds, and Outlander, which is a favourite amongst mothers.
What it prices: $74.99/yr; $8.99/month (seven-day free trial)
Who ought to subscribe: followers of Neil Gaiman and/or historic romance
What to look at: American Gods, Outlander
When to cancel: in between American Gods seasons
Sundance TV has invested in some unique programming in recent times — largely true crime and drama sequence — however the principle draw continues to be the gathering of unbiased movies championed by Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute.
What it prices: $59.99/yr; $6.99/month (7-day free trial)
Who ought to subscribe: movie competition devotees
What to look at: Tangerine, Bill Cunningham New York, Oldboy, A Discovery of Witches
When to cancel: after you’ve watched all the nice motion pictures
Smaller streaming providers
Whether you’re a cinephile, horror aficionado, or comedy nerd, there’s in all probability a hyper-specific streaming service on the market devoted to your pursuits.
Classic Saturday morning cartoons like Scooby-Doo and Looney Tunes can be found on Boomerang’s streaming service. Boomerang is out there à la carte, however can also be included within the VRV Premium bundle listed under.
What it prices: $39.99/yr; $4.99/month (seven-day free trial)
Who ought to subscribe: mother and father and/or children at coronary heart
What to look at: Scooby-Doo, Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, Courage the Cowardly Dog
When to cancel: when your children get tired of previous cartoons
The “biggest streaming collection of British TV…ever” by British broadcasters BBC and ITV is residence to such gems from throughout the pond as Mr. Bean, A Bit of Fry and Laurie, and Pride and Prejudice.
What it prices: $69.99/yr; $6.99/month (seven-day free trial)
Who ought to subscribe: Anglophiles
What to look at: basic Doctor Who, Midsomer Murders, Upstairs Downstairs
When to cancel: when your favourite U.Ok. exhibits come to Hulu or Netflix
Another free streaming service, Sony’s Crackle has a fairly spectacular lineup of TV and flicks, from cult classics to precise classics.
What it prices: nothing
Who ought to subscribe: everybody — it’s free!
What to look at: Snatch, Drive, The Blob
When to cancel: if Sony begins charging for it, since a lot of the greatest content material is out there elsewhere
Subscribe right here: Crackle
The Criterion Channel
A choice of over 1,000 motion pictures from the Criterion Collection, a sequence of movies deemed “important […] to the art of cinema,” is out there to stream on the Criterion Channel.
What it prices: $99.99/yr; $10.99/month (14-day free trial)
Who ought to subscribe: basic movie buffs
What to look at: basic and artwork home movies, Adventures in Moviegoing
When to cancel: make it a challenge to look at as many as you’ll be able to in a yr, then cancel
Subscribe right here: Criterion Collection
The largest streaming service for licensed anime, Crunchyroll has additionally branched out into unique programming. Some content material is out there totally free, however a premium membership removes adverts, and consists of entry to simulcasted exhibits as quickly as an hour after they air in Japan.
What it prices: $7.99/month; $9.99/month bundled with VRV
Who ought to subscribe: anime followers
What to look at: Polar Bear Café, Mob Psycho 100, Yuri!!! On Ice, Laid-back Camp
When to cancel: this one’s a keeper should you’re into anime
This streaming service is devoted to science, nature, and historical past documentaries (or “geekumentaries,” in CuriosityStream’s parlance.)
What it prices: $2.99/month ($19.99/yr); $9.99/month ($69.99/yr) with 4K (7-day free trial)
Who ought to subscribe: science geeks
What to look at: extremely area of interest documentaries
When to cancel: it’s so low-cost that should you’re watching one doc a month, it’s value it
DC’s streaming (and studying) service merges all issues DC onto one platform. In addition to unique sequence, basic TV exhibits, and flicks, DC Universe consists of entry to a rotating assortment of content material from DC Comics.
What it prices: $74.99/yr; $7.99/month (seven-day free trial)
Who ought to subscribe: DC Comics followers
What to look at: Doom Patrol, Swamp Thing, Titans
When to cancel: after you watch Doom Patrol and Swamp Thing — Comixology is a greater worth for digital comics, though it’s obtained a smaller choice
Subscribe right here: DC Universe
CollegeHumor tapped its forged members for unique exhibits on its streaming service Dropout, together with animated sequence and nerdy recreation exhibits. Classic CollegeHumor sketches can be found on the platform as effectively, alongside digital comics and interactive “chat stories.”
What it prices: $47.92/yr; $4.99/month (7-day free trial)
Who ought to subscribe: Extremely Online millennials
What to look at: Dimension 20; Um, Actually; Game Changer; Total Forgiveness
When to cancel: once you outgrow this fashion of web humor
Subscribe right here: Dropout
[Disclosure: The author’s husband hosts the Dropout exhibits MegaDungeon Live and Tablepop.]
IMDb’s streaming service, IMDb TV (previously Freedive), is totally free, providing motion pictures and TV exhibits on the IMDb web site or Amazon Fire gadgets.
What it prices: nothing
Who ought to subscribe: anybody who likes free stuff
What to look at: Apocalypse Now, Zodiac, Charlie’s Angels, Forensic Files
When to cancel: by no means — it’s free!
Subscribe right here: IMDb
If you could have a library card, chances are high you have already got entry to this assortment of basic and indie movies. Kanopy companions with faculties and libraries to make the service free for college students and patrons.
What it prices: nothing (examine in case your library or college is included)
Who ought to subscribe: anybody with entry
What to look at: Moonlight, Lady Bird, Eighth Grade, Rashomon
When to cancel: by no means!
Check when you’ve got entry right here: Kanopy
Rather than an enormous assortment, Mubi presents a curated choice of simply 30 movies that change every month. It’s an attention-grabbing concept that’s good for movie lovers who’re simply overwhelmed by decisions.
What it prices: $10.99/month (seven-day free trial)
Who ought to subscribe: cinephiles who can’t make selections
What to look at: no matter’s accessible
When to cancel: when the month’s alternatives aren’t attention-grabbing
For wire cutters who miss the expertise of channel browsing, Pluto TV presents a neat answer. In addition to a library of free on-demand titles, Pluto TV presents a whole bunch of channels that broadcast 24/7. There are channels devoted to sports activities, information, stand-up comedy, cult movies, MTV courting exhibits, and even channels that marathon particular exhibits together with basic Doctor Who, The Walking Dead in Spanish, and Criss Angel: Mindfreak.
What it prices: it’s free
Who ought to subscribe: it’s free
What to look at: no matter strikes your fancy whereas channel browsing
When to cancel: it’s free
Watch right here: Pluto TV
The gimmick of Jeffrey Katzenberg’s mobile-first streaming service is that all the episodes are 10 minutes lengthy or much less. (Quibi is a portmanteau of “quick bites,” you see.)
What it prices: $4.99/month (14-day free trial)
Who ought to subscribe: the morbidly curious
What to look at: Chrissy’s Court, Murder House Flip, 50 States of Fright, The Daily Chill
When to cancel: After you’ve taken as many fast bites as you’ll be able to abdomen
[Disclosure: Vox Media and Polygon have partnered with Quibi to supply Speedrun, a each day information present.]
Shudder is the biggest horror-focused streaming service, with basic horror movies alongside unique releases and unique options, like Horror Noire, the superb documentary concerning the historical past of black horror motion pictures.
What it prices: $56.99/yr; $5.99/month (seven-day free trial)
Who ought to subscribe: horror buffs
What to look at: Creepshow, The Love Witch, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Hellraiser, Texas Chainsaw Massacre
When to cancel: after Halloween
Tubi, just lately acquired by Fox TV in March, claims the title of “world’s largest completely free ad-supported streaming service,” with over 20,000 titles on the ad-supported platform. The solely disadvantage is that Tubi caps the streaming decision of all of the movies at 720p, which means you gained’t get the 4K expertise provided by Netflix’s premium plans or bodily media.
What it prices: it’s free
Who ought to subscribe: it’s free
What to look at: Spy Kids, Chicago, Merlin, The Big Short, Thelma and Louise
When to cancel: it’s free
Watch right here: Tubi
VRV bundles a number of streaming providers (a lot of that are talked about above, like Boomerang, Crunchyroll, and CuriosityStream) onto one platform. There are additionally just a few “VRV Select” unique sequence, together with exhibits like HarmonQuest and My Brother, My Brother, and Me, which premiered on NBC’s now-defunct streaming service Seeso. Some content material is free, however a VRV Premium membership eliminates adverts and unlocks the whole lot on the platform.
What it prices: $9.99/month (30-day free trial)
Who ought to subscribe: anime, comedy, and/or science nerds
What to look at: My Brother, My Brother, and Me; JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure; ’90s Nickelodeon exhibits
When to cancel: when it’s cheaper to go à la carte
Subscribe right here: VRV
[Ed word: Former Polygon staff Griffin McElroy and Justin McElroy produced and starred within the present My Brother, My Brother, and Me, which streams on VRV.]
Streaming stay TV
Of course, there are alternatives for cable cord-cutters who nonetheless need the expertise of watching TV because it airs. Several firms, from telecom giants to streaming startups, have launched stay TV providers in recent times. Most of them are fairly related.
AT&T TV Now
The largest perk of AT&T TV Now (previously DirecTV Now) is that it consists of HBO at no further price. It additionally presents upgraded packages with much more channels, and packages for sports activities, worldwide, and premium cable can be found as add-ons. However, it’s obtained a comparatively stingy quantity of DVR storage (20 hours) and solely permits two folks to stream concurrently, with the choice so as to add one other display for an additional $5/month.
Price: $50/month, with upgraded packages accessible (seven-day free trial)
Features: Viacom channels, HBO
Drawbacks: solely 20 hours of cloud DVR storage, and solely two simultaneous streams
Subscribe right here: AT&T TV Now
Hulu + Live TV
If you’re already subscribed to Hulu, it’s fairly straightforward so as to add stay TV to the service for an additional $39 per 30 days. The fundamental plan permits solely two simultaneous streams and as much as 50 hours of cloud DVR storage. However, Hulu presents a bunch of add-ons, accessible à la carte or bundled collectively, together with limitless screens and DVR, premium cable, and leisure and Spanish-language channel packages. Hulu can also be presently the one streaming app accessible on Nintendo Switch.
Price: $44.99/month ad-supported; $50.99/month ad-free (seven-day free trial)
Features: a number of customization choices, consists of Hulu originals, Nintendo Switch app
Drawbacks: restricted options except you pay further
Subscribe right here: Hulu
Originally launched to stream worldwide soccer video games, Fubo is now often called a “sports-first” stay TV streaming service. The base bundle ($54.99/month) consists of 71 sports activities, leisure, and information channels, with as much as two simultaneous streams and 30 hours of cloud DVR storage. Upgrade to a Family plan ($59.99/month) for an additional display and 500 hours of storage, or spring for the Ultra plan ($79.99/month), which doubles the quantity of channels accessible, together with Viacom networks and Showtime.
Price: $54.99/month, with upgraded packages accessible (seven-day free trial)
Features: tons of stay sports activities
Drawbacks: smaller general choice of channels
Subscribe right here: FuboTV
The most cost-effective possibility for stay TV, Sling is greatest for these on a funds. By splitting some channels into two packages, each beginning at $25/month, customers can select to maintain that smaller choice of channels or mix them for $40/month. Sling Orange consists of Disney-owned networks ESPN, Disney Channel, and Freeform, whereas Sling Blue has Fox and NBC. There are additionally loads of add-ons, together with native networks, premium cable subscriptions, and OTT streaming providers.
Price: Starting at $25/month ($15 for the primary month)
Features: tremendous customizable, most cost-effective possibility
Drawbacks: bare-bones interface, can solely stream on one display at a time (on Orange plan)
Subscribe right here: Sling
Our colleagues over at The Verge referred to as YouTube TV “the best streaming TV experience” due to its “intuitive and straightforward interface.” And considered one of its largest drawbacks, the dearth of a Fire TV app, was remedied with the Amazon device’s second generation. However, YouTube TV doesn’t embody any Viacom channels, which implies no Comedy Central, VH1, Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, or Logo.
Features: as much as three concurrent streams, limitless DVR
Drawbacks: no Viacom channels, no HBO add-on
Subscribe right here: YouTube