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Netflix isn’t your only option

Are you overwhelmed by the sheer amount of video streaming services? There are so many options available in the US, with different pricing plans and offerings, it can become confusing trying to decide which is right for you.


Pocket-lint has made the process easier by breaking down how each service compares in terms of price, device/platform availability, which have free trials or ads, and if you can access live TV or original programming. These are the core factors cord-cutters consider when switching to video streaming services. By the time you’re done with our guide, you should know which service to try.

Keep in mind we’re focusing on video streaming services here – not live TV streaming services. A video streaming service is a mobile, TV, or web app that lets you access movies and shows on demand. A live TV service lets you watch live local channels, live news, and live sports events all online. We will let you know if a video streaming service we recommend has a live TV option. Here are your top options for video streaming services (in the US).

Our top picks: The best video streaming services

Netflix and Disney+ password sharing illegal in UK, says IPO photo 1

Pocket-lint

Netflix

1. Best video streaming service overall

Netflix is a video streaming service with thousands of TV shows and movies available to watch instantly. They are streamed over the internet to a wide variety of devices, including TVs, tablets, phones, game consoles, and set-top boxes. You can also watch Netflix on a computer. It has a monthly fee, no annual pricing commitments, and you can cancel at any time.

Subscription with ads
$6.99

Premium Subscription
$15.49 or $19.99 options

Simultaneous streams
2-4

# of profiles
5

Originals
Yes

Live TV
No

Free trial
No

Our top pick for the best video streaming service is Netflix because it has an extensive content library that features something for everyone in the family. There’s Netflix Originals with series like Bridgerton and Stranger Things, and a diverse catalogue of films with variety from Matilda The Musical to Extraction 2. In addition to Netflix’s catalogue of originals, it also has one of the best libraries of classic movies and shows. It’s growing even larger now that Warner Bros has sold streaming rights on HBO content like Insecure, Band of Brothers, True Blood, and more to Netflix. While Netflix’s price has increased recently, that can be said for most of the other contenders for the top streaming service as well.

There are three monthly subscription tiers: Standard with Ads, Standard, and Premium, which cost $6.99, $15.49, and $19.99, respectively. The Premium plan allows you to watch on four different devices at the same time instead of two with the other plans. The Premium plan is the only one that allows you to stream in 4K HDR, while the Standard plan is 1080p.

Platforms and devices

You can see a full support list here, but a few of the standout supported platforms and devices include Amazon Fire TV and Fire tablets, Roku, Chromecast, iOS, iPadOS, Android, Android TV, Apple TV, Xbox and PlayStation consoles, Android-based Sony Smart TVs, Chromebooks, Samsung, and LG devices.

What is Disney+ Premier Access? Plus, how to watch Mulan with it photo 3
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Disney+

2. Best video streaming service for families

Disney+ is Disney’s answer to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, but with a difference: It’s the exclusive home to shows and movies from the studio and its many brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and National Geographic. Disney+ is available in many countries and locations, including both the UK and the US. You can access it on multiple devices. It costs a monthly fee, but there is no annual commitment, and you can cancel whenever.

Subscription with ads
$7.99

Premium Subscription
$10.99 (will go up to $13.99 on 12 Oct.)

Simultaneous streams
4

# of profiles
7

Originals
Yes

Live TV
No

Disney+ is our choice for the best family video streaming service.

It features Disney’s huge catalogue of classic animated and live-action films and series like The Lion King, Sleeping Beauty, and Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. You can stream almost everything from Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel on Disney+. That includes the newest releases from theatres like Elemental and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. There’s also always original content, like the new series Ashoka, released on Disney+ weekly.

You can even subscribe to Disney+ and Hulu as a bundle for $9.99 with ads or $19.99 without. That’s a pretty significant deal and value for families. The price of a Disney+ subscription without ads and Hulu is $13.99.

Platforms and devices

You can see the full support list here, but a few of the standout supported platforms and devices include Amazon Fire TV and Fire tablets, Roku, Chromecast, iOS, iPadOS, Android, Android TV, Apple TV, Xbox and PlayStation consoles, Android-based Sony Smart TVs, Chromebooks, Samsung, and LG devices.

Amazon Prime Video Android image 1

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Amazon Prime Video

3. Best streaming service with the most content

Prime Video is the name of Amazon’s TV show and movie streaming app and service, and it’s available on multiple devices. It comprises two elements: There are thousands of films and TV to rent or purchase digitally, which you pay for on an ad-hoc basis, or there is Amazon Prime Video. It offers thousands of other TV shows and movies to watch for “free” as part of your Prime membership. Prime content is clearly marked, so you should have no trouble finding it.

Price
$14.99 per month or $139 annually

Ad plans
No

Simultaneous streams
3

# of profiles
6

Originals
Yes

Live TV
Limited (some add-on channels offer live TV)

Free trial
30 days (to Amazon Prime)

Prime Video is something you should take advantage of if you already have an Amazon Prime Subscription.

The service offers access to a library of classic films and TV shows, in addition to Prime Original hits like Jack Reacher and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. The Prime Video app can also serve as your hub for streaming everything, as you can rent just about any title that isn’t available to stream for free. It has also begun offering live sporting events like NFL games and Premier League football.

You can gain access to Prime Video through an Amazon Prime membership, which also includes perks like two-day shipping from Amazon. In the US, an Amazon Prime membership costs $14.99 per month or $139 annually. The price increased in early 2022; it was previously offered for $12.99 and $119, respectively. In the UK, Amazon Prime membership costs either £8.99 a month or £95 a year – with the latter making more economic sense.

A 30-day trial of Amazon Prime is available.

Platforms and devices

You can see the full support list here, but a few of the standout supported devices include Fire TV, Fire tablet, iPhone, iPad, Chromecast, Xbox and PlayStation consoles, Smart TVs, Blu-ray players, Apple TV, Roku, and Xfinity X1.

Apple TV+ image 1

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Apple TV+

4. Best prestige TV streaming service

Apple TV+ is Apple’s own video streaming service that launched in 2019. It’s available via the Apple TV app. Since its inception, Apple has spent over $6 billion on original content for its streaming platform – producing films like the Best Picture winner Coda and Emmy-winning series like Ted Lasso.

Price
$6.99 per month

Ad plans
No

Free trial
7 day free trial and 3 months free if you buy an Apple device

Simultaneous streams
6

# of profiles
6

Originals
Yes

Live TV:
Limited (There are live sports and some add-on channels offer live TV)

Apple TV+ has steadily built of a catalogue of TV series helmed by huge stars and backed by even bigger budgets. Shows like The Morning Show and Shrinking feature Hollywood A-listers like Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Harrison Ford, while originals like For All Mankind, See, and Foundation have blockbusters’ budgets and production quality with ravenously loyal fan bases.

Apple TV+ has successfully carved a niche in the streaming industry by offering a diverse range of high-quality content featuring A-list actors and substantial budgets. Its commitment to delivering top-notch entertainment without the complexity of multiple subscription tiers makes it an attractive choice for consumers looking for premium streaming content at an accessible price point. You can stream Apple TV+ for a base price of $6.99 per month.

There are no ad-based subscription tiers.

Platforms and devices

You can see the full support list here, but a few of the standout supported devices include Amazon Fire, Roku, Android, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, PlayStation and Xbox consoles, Macs and PCs, Samsung Smart TV, and TiVo.

Max

Max / Pocket-lint

Max

5. Best video streaming service for reality TV

Max combines all of HBO’s offerings with Warner Bros movies and Turner TV shows. It also includes originals and programming from Warner Media’s other brands. It’s priced the same as the old HBO service, HBO Max. Max launched in the US in May 2023.

Subscription with ads
$9.99 per month or $100 annually

Premium Subscription
starts at $15.99 or $150 annually

Simultaneous streams
3

# of profiles
5

Originals
yes

Live TV
no

Free trial
No

After HBO Now, HBO Go, and HBO Max, we now simply have Max. This merger of HBO Max and Discovery+ streaming services, resulting from the Warner and Discovery merger, is a clear victory for consumers. The subscription cost for Max remains unchanged from what an HBO Max subscription was in May 2023 when the service was rebranded.

Essentially, it’s like getting another streaming service, Discovery+, at no additional cost.

There is an extensive catalogue of titles already available on Max, including iconic DCEU films, the Harry Potter Universe, as well as recent cinematic gems like Avatar: The Way of Water and Dune. Furthermore, Max offers a rich selection of original series, including Station 11 and Peacemaker. And, of course, the cornerstone of it all is the ability to stream a treasure trove of timeless classics and new series from HBO, such as The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, and House of the Dragon. Let’s not forget the truly deep catalogue of reality TV series available now through the Discovery+ addition.

Platforms and devices

You can see the full support list here, but a few of the standout supported devices include Amazon Fire, Roku, Android, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Playstation and Xbox consoles, Macs and PCs, Samsung Smart TV, Xbox One, and TiVo.

Hulu's going up in price: How to cancel or change your subscription plan photo 2

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Hulu

6. Best video streaming service for TV watchers

Hulu is a video streaming content service that started as a platform for recently aired TV shows but has grown into a service with full movies, original programming, and content from well-known brands such as Disney, Fox, BBC America, Showtime, TLC, CBS, ABC News, Animal Planet, Complex, Freeform, FX, and others. There is a Live TV package you can subscribe to if you want news and sports, depending on your location.

Subscription with ads
$7.99 per month or $79.99 annually

Premium Subscription
$14.99 per month (will increase to $17.99 starting 12 Oct.)

Simultaneous streams
2

# of profiles
7

Originals
Yes

Live TV
Yes

Hulu started as a place where you could catch an episode of TV you missed the night before, but it has since evolved into so much more. It has what might be the best catalogue of original TV series from a streaming service, with shows like The Handmaid’s Tale, The Bear, and The Only Murders in the Building. It is also owned by Disney, which makes Hulu a great service for streaming more adult-oriented content in the Disney library, like the Deadpool films and Family Guy.

Best of all, if you want to get Hulu and Disney+, you can do so as a part of a bundle – with the ad-supported tier costing $9.99 and the premium tier costing $19.99 per month. You can use Hulu from various screens, and five other people can access your account with their own profiles. Streaming from Hulu isn’t free, so you must first purchase a plan.

The cheapest plan has ads.

Platforms and devices

You can see the full support list here, but a few of the standout supported devices include Android, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Echo Show, Fire Tablets, Fire TV, iPhones and iPads, LG TV (select models), Nintendo Switch, Mac and PC, PlayStation and Xbox consoles, Roku, Samsung TV (select models), VIZIO SmartCast TV, Xfinity Flex, and X1.

Paramount+-2

Paramount+ / Pocket-lint

Paramount+

7. Best video streaming service for theatrical releases

Paramount (previously ViacomCBS) replaced CBS All Access with Paramount+ in 2021. While it started as a rebrand of CBS All Access. It has since grown into a valid Netflix, Prime Video, and Disney+ competitor in its own right. Paramount+ is unique because it offers content from the combined ViacomCBS network, which includes properties such as CBS, Paramount, Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, Comedy Central, and the Smithsonian Channel. It also featured live programming – like sports and breaking news.

Subscription with ads
$5.99

Premium Subscription
$11.99

Simultaneous streams
3

# of profiles
6

Originals
Yes

Live TV
Yes, but limited number of channels

Paramount+ has emerged as a major player in the streaming service industry, largely due to the phenomenal success of Yellowstone, even though the show itself is not available for streaming on the platform. While Paramount opted to sell the streaming rights of Yellowstone to Peacock, they strategically brought in its creator, Taylor Sheridan, to expand and develop an entire universe of shows centred around Yellowstone and the Dutton family.

However, Paramount+ offers much more than just Yellowstone.

It boasts an impressive library of films and series from Paramount, MTV Films, and Nickelodeon Studios. Furthermore, fresh Paramount movies become available on the platform soon after their theatrical releases, including highly anticipated titles like Top Gun: Maverick and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of Paramount+ is its pricing structure.

The ad-supported tier is incredibly affordable at just $5.99, while the premium tier, priced at $11.99, offers more than just an ad-free experience. Subscribers to the premium tier gain access to the entire content library of Showtime, which includes a vast array of blockbuster films and hit series such as Outlander, Yellowjackets, and Billions.

Platforms and devices

You can see the full support list here, but a few of the standout supported devices include Computers, Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, Android TV, Android phones, tablets, Chromecast, Fire TV, Portal TV, PlayStation, Xbox gaming consoles, Samsung TV, Vizio TV, LG TV, Roku, Xfinity devices, Cox Contour box, and VIDAA TV.

Peacock will stream Lionsgate movies in 2024, including Hunger Games prequel photo 1

Peacock

Peacock

8. Best streaming service for live sports

NBCUniversal has its own video streaming service called Peacock. It’s designed to offer cord-cutters a slate of big-budget original series from showrunners who have previously worked with NBCUniversal, but it also carries TV shows and movies from the company’s Universal arm. You can watch 20,000 hours of original programming, as well as dramas, comedies, news, sports, unscripted TV, kid-friendly content, Spanish-language content, and curated channels. Peacock also allows you to stream over 50 channels of live TV.

Subscription with ads
$5.99

Premium Subscription
$11.99

Simultaneous streams
3

# of profiles
6

Originals
Yes

Live TV
Yes

Free trial
No

Peacock, NBCUniversal’s very own streaming app, boasts an impressive array of entertainment offerings that encompass top-tier movies from Universal Studios and an enticing selection of television shows from the NBC network, as well as smaller gems hailing from networks like USA and Bravo. The platform has also ventured into the realm of original content creation, delivering standout hits such as Poker Face, Bupkis, and Twisted Metal. What makes Peacock all the more appealing is its wallet-friendly subscription cost of $5.99, placing it among the more affordable streaming options available.

Furthermore, Peacock goes beyond standard on-demand content by delving into the realm of live TV streaming. Even with its basic subscription, you gain access to a lineup of live sporting events, including NFL games, WWE pay-per-views, PGA Golf tournaments, Premier League football matches, and more, making it an enticing choice for sports fans.

Platforms and devices

You can see the full support list here, but a few of the standout supported devices include Fire TV, Fire tablet, iPhone, iPad, Chromecast, Xbox, and PlayStation consoles. In addition, Smart TVs, Apple TV, Roku, and Xfinity also offer support for this platform, ensuring accessibility across a diverse array of devices.

Best video streaming services: The bottom line

  • Best video streaming service: Netflix
  • Runner-ups: Disney+, Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Max, Hulu, Paramount+, and Peacock

Currently, there are around eight major video streaming services in the US: Netflix, Disney+, AppleTV+, Hulu, Max, Prime Video, Paramount+, and Peacock. There are countless others, but we’ve ranked these major players because they provide the most content and value. We compared each service’s existing library of content, the quality of newly released content or their original programming, how often new content is released, and the monthly subscription cost.

Netflix emerged as the frontrunner, perfectly aligning with our criteria for a well-rounded streaming service.

But you probably don’t want just one streaming service, especially if you’re looking to replace your cable subscription. That’s the best part of cord-cutting: Shopping à la carte for the services you want and not paying what you don’t need. You can literally pick and choose and customise your streaming packages to suit your preferences.

How did we choose the best video streaming services?

I’ve been a longtime subscriber of many video streaming services and currently use every single service mentioned in this guide. While trying to figure out which one deserves the crown, I dug into each of their content libraries and checked out their new stuff and original shows – you know, the fresh, exciting stuff that keeps us glued to the screen.

Of course, nobody wants a stagnant service, so I also looked at how often they drop new content. Last but not least, I had to think about the wallet. I mean, let’s be real, it’s got to be worth it, right?

How to find the right video streaming service for you

Most video streaming services will allow you to peruse all the content they offer before subscribing, so you first need to consider what you want to stream. It’s a good way to quickly judge whether you’d use a particular video streaming service. The other deciding factors are your budget and how many streaming services you’d like to subscribe to.

What is a video streaming service?

A video streaming service is a platform that allows you to stream movies, TV shows, and other video content on-demand over the internet, usually for a monthly subscription fee.

Do video streaming services have free trials?

Free trials are becoming much rarer these days, as streaming services are cracking down on the ways people can watch for free. Still, some video streaming – like AppleTV and Prime Video – do offer free trials.

Can I watch content offline on video streaming services?

Yes, many video streaming services offer the option to download select content for offline viewing, which is useful when you have limited or no internet access. Netflix and Disney+, for instance, both let you download content to watch later.

Are there any contracts or commitments with video streaming services?

Most video streaming services, including the ones highlighted in this guide, are on a month-to-month subscription model and allow you to cancel at any time without long-term contracts or commitments.

Are there any other video streaming services to try?

Yes, there are many other video streaming services available. And they’re all worth checking out if you consider yourself an avid cord-cutter who wants to try every type of service at least once. There are also streaming apps that tend to focus on a specific genre of content, for instance, like Shudder for the horror genre or HallmarkTV for romantic films.

Remember, you can unsubscribe from these at any time – so it can be fun to have a subscription to a horror video streaming service during October before switching it over to HallmarkTV for some romantic Christmas films in the winter.

In addition to these paid video streaming services, there are also quite a few free video streaming services if you don’t mind watching ads. Amazon Freevee, in particular, has a huge catalogue of classic films to go along with access to some Prime original series. Some free options, like Tubi, even come with a selection of live channels to browse.

Here are our picks of the best alternative video streaming services and what makes them particularly unique.

  • shudder-1

    Shudder / Pocket-lint

    Shudder

    For horror fans

    Horror fans will just die for Shudder. The video streaming service includes over 650 movies and 40 shows all from the horror genre. It costs $6.99 a month in the US.

  • amc+-1

    AMC / Pocket-lint

    AMC+

    International content add on

    AMC+ might seem like a cable subscription add-on, but it’s actually a streaming service that combines content from AMC, IFC, BBC America, and the Sundance Channel. It costs $9.99 a month in the US.

  • starz

    Starz / Pocket-lint

    Starz

    For newly released blockbusters

    Starz gives you access to all the content from the premium cable channel, including the newest film releases like John Wick 4. It costs 8.99 a month in the US.

  • hallmarktv

    Hallmark / Pocket-lint

    HallmarkTV

    For romance lovers

    HallmarkTV features all the films and series from the Hallmark channel. That alone makes it a must-have for the holiday season or romance flick lovers. It costs $5.99 a month in the US.

  • freevee

    Freevee / Pocket-lint

    Amazon Freevee

    Free Prime content

    Ad-based free streaming service from Amazon. It also includes access to some Prime originals like Jury Duty.

  • the roku channel

    Roku / Pocket-lint

    The Roku Channel

    Free add on for Roku customers

    Roku’s free streaming video service includes ad-supported access to a huge catalogue of films and originals like Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.

  • tubi-1

    Tubi / Pocket-lint

    Tubi

    Free access to tons of movies

    One of the most well-known free video streaming apps, Tubi offers over 47,000 movies for you to choose from in addition to over 200 streaming channels.

  • Crackle

    Crackle / Pocket-lint

    Crackle

    Free from Sony

    Sony-owned Crackle offers a selection of some of the top Hollywood blockbusters, as well as original series like Letterkenny and Shoresey. It’s free and ad-based.

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