Video Streaming Services are here to stay, so much is completely evident. What started out with Netflix less than 10 years ago, has basically become the biggest trend in TV since color. With companies left and right getting into the streaming game, it has gotten quite hard to judge where you should put your hard earned money.
This is why we have compiled a comprehensive and well-researched list of the best streaming services for your individual needs. Instead of giving scores or pros and cons, we have decided to just give you our best pick for whatever your situation and personal preference is.
So we have come up with different criteria: Do you have a kid, you want to keep entertained? Do you need to safe money or prefer to not spend any at all? Are live TV or live sports important to you? Do you watch more shows, movies or even Anime? No matter what your preference is, we got you covered.
If you’re in store for a new Video-Streaming player, head on over to our Top Pics for the Best Streaming-Video Player. We have tested tons of them and came up with our best overall pic, one amazing budget pic and one for enthusiasts.
Best Streaming Service Value for Money: Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime has been around for quite a while. In this time they have acquired and produced tons of films and shows. Especially in the realm of movies, they’ve been successful, with movies like Manchester By the Sea even winning at the Academy Awards. Their shows are pretty hit or miss. With gems like Fleabag, The Marvelous Mrs. Marvel and The Man in the High Castle, though, they have been able to garner considerable success.
There is no question, that Netflix is still the king when it comes to original content, just in terms of pure quantity (and often quality). However, what Amazon Prime Video lacks in terms of content, they do make up for with other offers. Besides their video content, the Amazon Prime Membership gets you tons of other perks.
They have a slim, but still decent music selection that’s free within Prime, as well as free e-book offerings within Prime Reading. You also get priority shipping and special offers on Amazon articles, that normal users don’t get. So overall there is a ton of stuff that’s included with Amazon Prime.
Pricing has gotten a little steep recently. The Prime membership fee is $119 a year, or $59 a year for students.
Get your free 30-day trial now (we are part of the Amazon Affiliate program).
Best Streaming Service for the whole Family: Disney Plus
This one isn’t actually quite out yet, but you can be sure, that once the Disney Plus video streaming service launches, nothing in the streaming world will be the same. Over all, the service is Disney direct rival to Netflix. It has, however, the big distinction of Disney’s and Fox’s gigantic library of content.
So, why is it perfect for families? Well, Disney also owns a big part of Hulu and tends to put the more adult-themed movies and show on there, like The Handmaid’s Tale or less kid friendly super heroes like Deadpool, focusing Disney Plus on family friendly fare.
So what can you expect on Disney Plus? The answer is: A whole lot. Because Disney is not only Disney but also includes Marvel, Pixar, Lucas Films and National Geographic they will be offering content from all those big brands.
In terms of stuff you already know, expect most if not all Marvel Cinematic Universe movies like The Avengers, Iron Man, Guardians of the Galaxy etc. Star Wars movies, animated movies such as Toy Story and Cars and the James Cameron hit movie Avatar. In terms of TV you’ll be able to catch up on all 30 seasons of The Simpsons and other huge shows produced by Fox.
There will also be tons of new movies and shows. Some of the biggest Avengers stars and sidekicks are already announced to get their own show on Disney Plus:
You will be able to catch up on the misadventures of Loki, follow Vision and Wanda, and see what Bucky and Falcon are up to. With The Mandalorian, Lukas Film has the first live action Star Wars show in the making.
Best Original Programming: Netflix
When it comes down to it, Netflix is the king of streaming. 2019 is a hard year for the company, with Disney Plus shaping up to be a serious competitor, but as of this writing, Netflix, still has the most unique and exclusive content.
The streaming giant has been smart about building its library with both amazing shows and high-profile movies.
You have your high-profile blockbuster shows like House of Cards, Daredevil, Maniac, Stranger Things and The Crown. Then there is a healthy amount of small but highly acclaimed niche shows like Big Mouth, Easy and Bojack Horseman. And then you have your surprise break-out shows, that just come out of nowhere to dominate like Russian Doll, Sex Education and American Vandal.
The movie library isn’t quite up to snuff, but over the years Netflix has put some really high profile movies exclusively on its plattform. They have a running deal with Adam Sandler, that consists of a whopping 8 movies. Quality on those is up for debate, but if you like his stuff you will feel right at home.
But on the more critically acclaimed side, Netflix has the exclusive rights to the Coen Brothers‘ newest work The Ballade of Buster Scruggs, Martin Scorcese’s new epic The Irishman, Alfonso Cuarón’s oscar winner Roma and many smaller but well-liked films such as The Perfection, Okja and Beasts of No Nation.
Being one of the longest running streaming services out there, Netflix has a very well thought out layout and works on basically any Operating System you could think of. You can download most movies and shows directly on your phone or table, to watch them offline and the quality goes up to 4K with HDR:
Costs have recently gone up. Right now the Basic plan will set you back $9/month. But you will have to live without HD and your account will only work on one screen. If you want to use Netflix in HD and get a second screen to share with a family member or flat mate, you have to get Standard, at $13. The Premium plan costs $16, but allows you to use 4 screens and watch content in 4K and HDR.
Best Streaming Service for TV: Hulu
Video streaming service Hulu offers big-name titles like The Simpsons, Saturday Night Live, and South Park alongside a huge number of titles from NBC, FOX and Comedy Central. It’s also the only streaming service app on the Nintendo Switch aside from the newly-included Youtube app.
Hulu comes in two flavors: the standard on-demand streaming service you’ve always known and loved, and the new Hulu with Live TV -to learn more you can read our full Hulu review here.
The former works well and is well worth its cost of entry – especially since Hulu’s price cut brought the monthly subscription to only $5.99. Sure, it’ll air with a few advertisements, but it’s nothing you’re not used to coming from traditional cable.
On the homepage you’ll find highlighted shows based on your past visits to the site as well as curated content from Hulu HQ. This includes game trailers, new movie trailers, popular clips from last week’s new episodes as well as a few themed playlists. You can sign up for a free trial on its website.
The other option on the table is Hulu with Live TV, a cable alternative that will run you $44.99 a month – which is, unfortunately, limited to the US. The service lives up to its name by offering you a bevy of live TV channels and 50 hours cloud DVR service and two simultaneous screens. This is a bit less than the next contender on our list – YouTube TV – which offers more screens and unlimited DVR space.
If you want to know more about all the advantages and disadvantages, hop on over to our article on the question of whether Hulu is still worth it in 2019.
Full disclosure: We are part of the Hulu Affiliate Program.
Best Streaming Service for Live TV: Playstation Vue
Even though Playstation is mostly a video-game brand, Sony has expanded the brand to TV: Playstation Vue is a great way for people to cut the cord and watch Live TV through video streaming online.
Streaming generally works pretty flawlessly, with quality automatically adjusting according to internet speed. You also get great DVR capabilities that lets you safe an unlimited amount of episodes of up to 500 TV shows in the Cloud.
The service has 4 different pricing models, called Access, Core, Elite, and Ultra. Basically, you start out with about 50 channels and get up to about 100, with the Elite plan including Pay-TV channels HBO and Showtime. The service starts at $45 a month and goes up to $80 a month.
There is also an extra Sports Pack that will cost you another $10 a month. What’s special for Playstation owners, if you are a PS Plus member you will actually get discounts on some of the channels and extra packages.
FuboTV is another great Live TV streaming service. The company offers 100 channels plus live TV starting at just $44.99/month. You get a lot of regular TV channels, but where it really shines is sports. This also includes 4K HDR-streams for live sports.
Fubo has two price segments called basic and extra, that offer 90 channels and 110 channels respectively. The basic package includes five Fox Sports channels with Extra adding another 20 channels like the Cooking Channel In terms of non-sport channels you can expect channels like E!, Bravo, AMC, FX and other popular channels
Both packages include a relatively thin 30 hours of Cloud DVR at. The service includes about 80% of regional sports networks, although ESPN is unfortunately not part of their programming.
Full disclosure: We are part of the FuboTV Affiliate program.
Best Streaming Service for Free: Crackle
So, you’re low on cash but still want to stream some video? We got you covered. Crackle, Sony’s streaming service is certainly not the best service out there, but hey, it costs just exactly nothing.
Crackle has a rather slim selection of movies that vary greatly in terms of quality and esteem. Sometimes you can find get an absolute treasure, like Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight and then they also offer absolute crap like Joe Dirty 2. Occasionally they also feature a show that’s worth a watch as well.
There’s also of course ads, because the service has to make money somehow. And it also has to be said that those ads can be pretty annoying but aren’t too intrusive. In a 20 minute show for example, you’ll get about three short ads.
In terms of technology and interface Crackle is absolutely solid. The service is sleek and responsive with few hiccups. Resolution however, isn’t up to par with other services and the videos can look pretty washed out especially when you’re watching on a bigger screen.
Crackle alone probably won’t satisfy all your needs, but as a completely free service, you should definitely add it to your arsenal. Especially since you can find it on pretty much all current platforms on iOS, Android, Roku, Chromecast etc..
Best Streaming Service for Gamers: Twitch
So, Twitch really won’t be be for you unless you are into watching other people playing video games. In which case, you certainly already know about the platform, because it’s unquestionable the juggernaut in the realm of game streaming.
For the uninitiated: Basically, Twitch is a plattform that let’s users live stream themselves playing video games. There is a chat function that allows viewers to interact with one another and the streamer to interact with his crowd.
Through the years Twitch has added tons of functionality, that might overwhelm new users but add a ton to the interactivity of the platform. You can subscribe to streamers, supporting them monetarily, earn badges for certain actions, watch cloud-saved older streams and countless other things.
Honestly, there is a reason why Twitch is so popular in this niche. It’s a very well built platform, that has been relatively good in responding to user feedback and adding new functionality and certainly earned its place as the best game streaming platform out there.
Awesome Niche Streaming Services you have never heard of
So we got the big ones out of the way. You are set in terms of stuff to watch for your kids, some great TV and original content and you got your sports covered as well. But besides the big streaming services for all your basic needs there are also some really cool services you probably have never heard of.
In this segment we want to shine the light on niche video streaming services, that scratch a very specific itch. Maybe you will discover something you didn’t even know, you needed in your life.
Viki has been around for many years and always been a top favorite for K-Drama fans. And that’s for good reason. The service is has more than 1,000 different titles. And though they definitely focus on Korean drama they also have tons of content from China, Taiwan and Japan. Also in terms of genre you will find basically everthing from Melodrama, to romance, over Thrillers and Action shows. Viki got you covered.
The best thing: Viki is free with ad-support! There are premium options as well. The Basic plan runs at a reasonable $2,50 per month (or $29,99 annually) and gives you HD quality, without ads and Chromecast support. For $4.17 a month ($49,99 annually) you can get the Standard pass, whihc also gives you early access to certain popular shows. There is also a Premium pass, that costs $99 per year. But this adds a lot of content from another Korean streaming platform: Kocowa.
There are over 40 million people who use Viki, which tells you that it’s certainly a top choice for K-drama fans. And thanks to the many fans, they started a crowdsourced subtitling model with content being translated into over 200 languages. So even if you are neither an English-native, nor fluent in Korean you won’t have any trouble enjoying the varied content. However it has to be said, that because of the nature of crowdsourcing the subtitles are not as accurate as professional subtitles.
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Best Streaming Service for Anime: Crunchyroll
Crunchyroll has earned its place as the largest english-language Anime streaming site on the Internet. Even though it started out as a free site, that offered Anime it didn’t have the rights to, these days the platform is completely legit and the best place for Anime in the western world.
They offer several hundred Anime shows that are completely free with ads (although only in SD). If you want to get rid of the ads and get the full 1080p HD resolution you have to pay reasonable $6.95 monthly
That gives you access to some of the best current Anime like Mob Psycho 100, Boruto and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures and solid back catalogue of evergreens like Naruto: Shippuden, Bleach and Food Wars!
Best Streaming Service for Horror: Shudder
Shudder has been around since 2015, offering a great collection of horror titles. The service is a favorit among horror fans because of its versatile collection, ranging from small titles to some of the biggest horror movies of all time.
Shudders library ranges from absolute classics to small titles, you have probably never heard of. You will find horror-staples like Halloween, Nosferatu, The Fly and Oldboy on the platform, as well as under the radar titles like Tucker and Dale vs Evil, the V/H/S series or Cheap Thrills, that are definitely worth a watch.
Shudder is available on most platforms, though only some regions, such as the US and Canada, as well as UK and Ireland.
At $4.99 Shudder is on the lower end of streaming services and pretty affordable.
Best Streaming Service for Curated Film Classics: Criterion Channel
Criterion has been a big name in home video for a long time. They are known as a company offering selected film classics on DVD and Bluray, in lavishly produced box sets that go far beyond what you would typically find at Target. Every release is full of extras and bonus material, often released for the first time.
The Criterion Channel brings this mindset to video streaming. In that sense, it’s hardly suprising, that Criteron Channel iis very different to most other streaming video services. Instead of dumping all of its content onto the platform all at once, Criterion curates is library very carefully.
You won’t get the quantity you’ll find on services such as Netflix, but instead Criterion Channel packages its titles into themed specials with tons of bonus material, interviews and behind-the-scenes specials. They will even add a thematically fitting shortfilm.
At $11 Criterion Channel is not a cheap proposition and up there with Netflix and Amazon Prime, who undoubtedly offer a bigger selection of content. But for cinephiles and people who want to deep-dive into film-theory and filmmaking there is nothing better than Criterion Channel.
Best Streaming Service for Bollywood Movies: Eros Now
Eros Now is the biggest worldwide platform for Bollywood movies. It offers a few thousand titles (depending on your location) such as popular movies like Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi and Ram-leela. Besides there great movie selection you can also watch some TV shows and even listen to music on the platform.
At $7.99 a month Eros Now is cheaper than bigger services but a bit pricey for a niche-service. However, if you are into indian culture and Bollywood movies in particular there isn’t another service that will give you the quantity and quality Erow Now has in store.