Best Streaming Services in the World
There are a lot of streaming services (about 200 worldwide), with new ones appearing every year, each vying for your time and money. But which ones are worth it, and which are just background noise?
Every streaming service offers something a little different than the next. Some are live TV services for cord-cutters. Others offer original programming and movies worth the monthly cost. And then there are free streaming apps with thousands of movies and shows, but you’ll pay for it by watching ads.
Here are the best streaming services for your budget and taste. Even if your budget is zero.
Available on: Android, iOS, Fire TV, Roku, Xbox One
Notable, original programming: "Creepshow" (original series), "Missions," "Drive-In," "Horror Noire Uncut," "Neil Gaiman’s Likely Stories"
Bottom Line: Shudder
Shudder is a specialty streaming service that only offers horror movies. Its library is pretty deep, but saying that these movies vary in quality is putting it lightly.
As a result, Shudder is really only for horror movie fanatics — fans of the genre who love C-movie schlock just as much as a studio-made fright fest.
There’s definitely some cool stuff here, with classics like "Re-Animator" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," alongside some weird titles like "Dude Bro Party Massacre III."
24 CBS All Access
Price: $5.99/month with commercials, $9.99/month without commercials
Available on: Pretty much everything
Notable, original programming: "Star Trek: Picard," "Star Trek: Discovery," "The Twilight Zone," "Blue Bloods," "NCIS" (all of ‘em)
Bottom Line: CBS All Access
A subscription to CBS All Access grants you some live content from CBS channels, like NFL games and the NCAA March Madness Tournament, but the service’s major selling point is its television lineup. However, that television lineup is pretty small.
While fans of shows like "Blue Bloods" and the entire "NCIS" and "CSI" series will find hours of stuff to rewatch, the overall All Access category is shallow. The service is trying to create hit new shows, although results have been underwhelming —"Star Trek: Picard" and "Star Trek: Discovery" didn’t make quite the splash the network had hoped for.
Plus, that $9.99/month sans-commercial option is quite pricey for what you get. There’s also a very limited number of movies, currently less than 50.
23. WWE Network
Available on: Most streaming devices
Notable, original programming: "Ride Along," "Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Sessions," "WWE 24," "WWE The Day Of"
Bottom Line: WWE Network
It’s a niche product, but an essential one for wrestling fans.
The WWE Network has hundreds of thousands of hours of wrestling content, spanning from 1970s Mid South Wrestling to every modern-day PPV. There’s also WWE Network exclusive content, including documentaries, reality TV shows and interviews.
The navigation is clunky, but when it comes to wrestling streaming services, choices are slim.
22. PBS Masterpiece
Available on: Amazon Prime and its app or via the PBS Passport App
Notable, original programming: "Sandition," "World on Fire," "Jamestown," "The Windsors," "The Child in Time," "Downton Abbey," Ken Burns documentaries
Bottom Line: PBS Masterpiece
The PBS Masterpiece streaming service is most popular as an extra channel available via Amazon Prime.
You also can access Masterpiece content by becoming a PBS Passport member. That means donating to your local PBS station, typically for $60 a year or $5 a month, although that amount may vary.
The PBS Masterpiece service is ideal for those who love classic period dramas and documentaries. There’s a lot of classic content available here. Plus, you get to help out PBS. Who doesn’t love PBS?
21. Apple TV+
Price: $4.99/month or $49.99/year
Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, smart TVs, Apple devices
Notable, original programming: "The Morning Show," "See," "Amazing Stories," "Dickinson," "Ghostwriter," "Little America"
Bottom Line: Apple TV+
Apple TV+ is a new contender, and as such, it doesn’t have much to offer.
Everything on Apple+ is original programming, so there’s no library of hit shows or movies. Its shows so far have not received widespread critical acclaim, although the service’s frontrunner show, "The Morning Show," has a 93 percent audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Apple TV+ is very cheap, and people who purchased an iPad, iPhone, Apple TV or Macbook through an approved Apple vendor after Sept. 10, 2019, get the service for free for one year. The dearth of content is the service’s bane, and this service shouldn’t be considered for those looking to get the most bang for their buck.
20. AT&T Now
Available on: Amazon Fire
Notable networks: FX, TNT, USA, SyFy, ESPN, ESPN2, Comedy Central, Bravo, TBS, CW
Website: AT&T Now
Bottom Line: AT&T Now
AT&T Now is a cable subscription replacement service, offering all major basic cable networks in its $55/month option, which includes over 45 channels.
The $80/month "Max" option includes over 60 channels and a subscription to HBO and Cinemax, while additional channels like Showtime and Starz cost $11 each — in Starz’s case, that’s $2 more than its standalone app.
AT&T Now includes 500 hours of cloud DVR storage and keeps those recording indefinitely. Plus, you don’t have to pay more to skip commercials, like Hulu TV. It’s still quite pricey for a channel lineup that isn’t very tantalizing.
Price: $10.99/month or $109.90/year
Available on: Most streaming devices and services
Notable, original programming: "Homeland," "Penny Dreadful," "Billions," "Shameless," "Twin Peaks"
Bottom Line: Showtime
The Showtime streaming service, interchangeably known as just Showtime or Showtime Anytime, features a handful of hit series and a deep library of films. However, the service is curiously overpriced for what you get.
Compared to HBO's streaming service (which costs $4 more), Showtime offers so much less in terms of original series. Plus, Showtime originals are never (to our knowledge) exclusive to Showtime and regularly appear on streaming services like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime.
In addition to Showtime’s film library, the service offers a live stream of both its broadcast channels, Showtime East and Showtime West. If you are considering Showtime, there’s a seven-day free trial. If you pay by the year upfront, the monthly fee works out to about $9.16/month.
Price: $6.99/month or $69.99/year
Available on: Roku, Apple TV, iOS, Samsung & LG Smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV
Notable, original programming: "Shakespeare and Hathaway," "Gavin and Stacey," "Fawlty Towers," "Father Ted," "Pride and Prejudice," "Doctor Who," "Absolutely Fabulous," "Would I Lie to You?"
Bottom Line: BritBox
Without BBC Player access, Americans have been at the mercy of whatever streaming platform might pick up their favorite show from across the pond. That’s no longer the case with BritBox, a streaming service owned by the BBC and ITV.
The service has a large library of past and present British television shows, which are calming enough to help get you through the most anxious of times.
The biggest downside is that web and mobile streaming is limited to 720p.
17. Pluto TV
Available on: Smart TVs and most streaming devices
Notable networks: Paramount Movie Channel, Fuse, Comedy Central, BET Pluto TV, The Onion
Bottom Line: Pluto TV
Pluto TV isn’t a cable replacement, but it is a decent supplement. Pluto offers a "live" viewing experience, meaning you can’t pause, fast-forward or rewind a stream, plus there are ads. It’s like watching cable without a DVR and no on-demand service.
The service is kind of fun to use and offers novel programming channels, like "Slow TV," which only shows calming content, like a Norwegian train ride. There’s a food network, live sports content, and a children’s channel, as well as channels that aren’t really channels, per say. For example, there are "Baywatch," "Cops" and "Ru Paul’s Drag Race" channels, which just stream those shows on repeat.
Navigating the interface via the Amazon Fire App is a pain, with no way to input specific channel numbers, but if you sign up for a user profile you can save favorite channels.
Pluto TV is worth checking out, but it might not be something you spend too much time watching if you already have cable.
Price: $4.99/month or $49.99/year
Available on: Any device with the ESPN app, so most of them
Notable, original programming: "30 for 30," "NBA Rooks," "Peyton’s Places," "The Harder Way," "The Boardroom," "Best of UFC"
Bottom Line: ESPN+
ESPN+ has a bunch of classic sports content and some original programming. Its "30 for 30" series is the best sports documentary series ever made, with enough content on varying topics to intrigue and entrance even the most casual sports fan.
Unfortunately, the ESPN+ library doesn’t offer all the sports classics you can hope to find, but its $5/month price tag reflects that. The service also offers replays and live streams of baseball games, soccer matches, fights, and other sports broadcasted on ESPN.
ESPN+ might best be purchased bundled with Disney+ and the ad-supported version of Hulu. You can get all three for $12.99/month.
15. The Criterion Channel
Price: $10.99/month or $99.99/year
Available on: Apple TV, Roku, FireTv, AndroidTV, iOS, Android, web
Notable, original programming: No original programming
Website: The Criterion Channel
Bottom Line: The Criterion Channel
The Criterion Channel has over 2,000 films and documentaries from all around the world, all of which have been curated by Criterion. The draw here is foreign films, classics, and a bunch of other lesser-known flicks that cinephiles will love. There are supplementary features as well, like commentary tracks, archival footage, video essays and interviews.
The Criterion Channel almost exclusively panders to film junkies. Casual movie viewers — that is, the majority of people who watch movies — will probably just be confused by its lineup. Those who love film will feel right at home.
Note that the Criterion Channel does not offer every film that Criterion released on DVD and Blu-ray. For example, the cult classic movie "Repo Man," which is part of the Criterion Collection, isn’t available to stream.
14. IMDB TV
Available on: On most devices via the Amazon Prime Video apps. There is no standalone IMDB TV app. iOS and Android users can access IMDBTV via the IMDB app.
Notable, original programming "You’re Mot a Monster," "Corner Gas," "The IMDB Show"
Bottom Line: IMDB TV
Amazon, which owns IMDB, rebranded IMDb Freedive as IMDB TV in January 2019. There is barely any original content, but you’re here for the movies, right? Luckily the library of IMDBTV seems decent, with some solid classic films like "The Shining" and newer movies like "Blade Runner 2049."
The commercials aren’t that bad, either. For "Blade Runner 2049," which has a runtime of 2 hours and 43 minutes, there were only seven commercial breaks, with each break running a total of about 90 seconds. Really, that’s not bad at all. Add it to your streaming service lineup.
Available on: Roku, Apple TV, FireTV, iOS and Android
Notable networks: A&E, BBC America, Comedy Central, Lifetime, Sundance, Viceland
Bottom Line: Philo
Philo is a cable replacement service for people who don’t care about sports, local stations or major networks. You won’t have news networks, like Fox or CNN, or basic cable networks like TNT or TBS. But you will get access to 59 entertainment-based channels for $20/month, which is definitely a cheap option for a live TV streaming service.
There’s a solid DVR option, with unlimited shows available to save for 30 days, and there’s an ability to fast-forward through commercials. The service offers a seven-day trial where you don’t have to enter your credit card information, although you’ll need to sign up with your mobile number.
12. Sling TV
Price: Starting at $30/month to $45/month
Available on: Most devices
Notable networks: AMC, BBC America, Vice, Paramount Network, EPIX Drive-in, all major news outlets
Bottom Line: Sling TV
Sling TV is a cable replacement streaming service that offers packages and add-on options. There are two different options, Sling Orange and Sling Blue.
Orange ($30/month) offers over 30 channels while Blue ($30/month) offers over 50, and not all Orange channels are in the Blue package. These packages can be combined for an Orange and Blue combo for $45/month. The options only come with a stingy 10 hours of cloud DVR. You’ll need to pay an extra $5/month for 50 hours of storage, which can fill up fast.
The interesting thing about Sling is that you can then add on extra channels at an additional cost. These generally cost $5 a month for a group of 10-plus channels, organized in categories like comedy and news. Sports Extra costs $10 a month. Premium networks like HBO and Showtime also can be added for $15 and $10 a month, respectively.
Sling offers a lot of channels, but the extras can add up quickly. Those who want everything may be paying more than what’s offered from your service provider cable/internet bundle.
Price: Free with paid, a la carte options
Available on: All major streaming platforms and smart TVs, plus some Blu-ray players
Notable, original programming: No original content
Bottom Line: Vudu
Vudu is primarily a service for renting and buying new movies. Paid options offer up to 4K resolution and include pretty much all the newest movies to hit the home market.
There are also free, ad-supported movies and TV shows. Vudu’s free TV show offerings are meager — expect a lot of "Kitchen Nightmares" and old shows, like "Roseanne."
There are over 5,000 free movies available on Vudu, but like most free service libraries, many of these films are those that no one actually wants to watch mixed with good but older movies. There's an option to sort by Rotten Tomato score above 60 and 80 percent fresh, which is a welcome feature, although we would like to have the ability to filter with more precise scores.
As far as ads, it’s awful for television shows, with one to three 30-second commercials starting before the show even starts, with additional similar ad-breaks peppered throughout. Movies fare better, with about four or five ad breaks with only one commercial.
Vudu touts its "HDX" feature, which it says is better than standard Ultra High Definition (UHD)/1080p because it streams in a higher bitrate. The movies do look good.
As far as a streaming service, we don’t recommend the free television section, but we do recommend the free movies. For its paid a la carte movie rentals and purchases, Vudu offers a huge selection of HD movies at fair prices.
Available on: All streaming devices
Notable, original programming: "StartUp," "SuperMansion," "Snatch," "Going From Broke"
Bottom Line: Crackle
Crackle is one of the more popular free streaming services. Owned by Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment and Sony, Crackle doesn’t have a lot of original programming, but that’s to be expected of a free service.
Crackle makes its money via commercials. Surprisingly, these commercials are less frequent than those you’re likely to find on a movie showing on regular network television. A 22-minute episode of "Going from Broke" had two ad breaks lasting about two minutes.
There is no sign-up required (although you can make a profile to save content) and has a pretty good selection of movies. There’s really no good reason not to have Crackle in your streaming lineup. It's one of the best free streaming apps you can get.
9. Fubo TV
Price: $54.99/month to $79.99/month
Available on: Most streaming devices, although not on most smart TVs or gaming consoles
Notable networks: AMC, FS1, FS2, A&E, Fox Sports, NBA TV, Paramount, CNBC, History, TNT, TBS, Golf Channel, Olympic Channel, Big Ten Network, NFL Network
Bottom Line: Fubo TV
Fubo TV is expensive, but that’s because it’s selling itself as a cord-cutting alternative to big cable. There are tons of networks available even in its base $55 package, although Disney-owned networks like ESPN and ABC are out.
Fubo began as a streaming soccer service but has grown into its current form over the years. But while anyone should be able to find something to watch on Fubo, sports fans are going to get the most bang for their buck. The base service comes with 103 channels and 500 hours of cloud DVR space, while the Ultra service comes with 174 channels.
For sports fans, this is the best streaming service for sports, and one of the best streaming services for live TV.
Launched: 2008 (as StarzPlay)
Available on: As a standalone app on most media platforms and as an add-on channel
Notable, original programming: "Outlander," "Party Down," "Black Sails," "American Gods," "Ash vs Evil Dead"
Bottom Line: Starz
Starz doesn’t have the strongest original programming lineup, but it offers a huge amount of quality movies — think more "Apollo 13" than "Paul Blart: Mall Cop." As such, Starz is mostly an add-on subscription service instead of a standalone one like Netflix, since it’s not a service you’ll want to solely rely on.
An additional $9/month to your existing Hulu, Prime Video or Apple TV+ will get you a whole bunch of good movies, though. Its existing series aren’t too shabby either. "Outlander' has received rave reviews, and "Black Sails" is a wonderful series, although not enough people watched "Ash vs Evil Dead."
That show is dead and buried.
Available on: Pretty much any streaming service platform, smart TVs, iOS and Android devices
Notable, original programming: No original programming
Bottom Line: Tubi
Tubi is a free, ad-supported streaming service with a massive library of titles. Tubi has thousands of movies, all free to watch, as long as you can stand advertisements. Which, surprisingly, aren’t intrusive. There’s an ad break at the beginning, middle, or the end of a movie. Sometimes all three, sometimes just once.
There are some TV shows too. In total, there are around 20,000 movies and shows on Tubi, although that number might tally up individual episodes.
A few of Tubi’s partners include Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount and Starz. For a free service, it has a pretty dang good library of films and shows, though they tend to be older. You’re not getting the hottest and newest films and series. Ads are less intrusive than cable, which is great. Web streaming is limited to 720p, which is one of its major downsides.
Fox bought Tubi for $440 million in March 2020 and will eventually incorporate national and local news as well as sports programming. Tubi is the best free streaming app you can get.
6. YouTube TV
Available on: Most streaming devices and televisions
Notable networks: AMC, ESPN, ESPN 2, Food Network, Investigation Discovery, MLB Network, OWN, Sundance, ABC, CBS, Fox, CW, Bravo
Bottom Line: YouTubeTV
YouTube TV is a cord-cutting replacement that has been well reviewed since its 2019 revamp. YouTube TV offers 67 channels, including local ones, of a wide variety so there’s something for everyone. YouTube Originals also are included in this package, although how much value it adds is up for debate (though some people love "Cobra Kai").
YouTube TV has an easy-to-use navigation system and comes with the best cord-cutting cloud DVR option of any service because it offers unlimited storage. The only caveat is that these shows only stay in the cloud for 90 days, so slowly creating a big backlog of bingeable shows is probably off the table.
It’s $50 a month, which is on par with what you'll pay for cable in many cable/internet package bundles, so you might not be saving money. However, if you don’t like it, you can cancel at any time and not have to deal with your service provider. For most people seeking a cable alternative, this is the best streaming service for live TV.
5. HBO Now
Available on: Pretty much every device
Notable, original programming: "The Sopranos," "Watchmen," "Chernobyl," "Band of Brothers," "Game of Thrones," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "West World," "Silicon Valley"
Bottom Line: HBO Now
In 1999, "The Sopranos" elevated television shows to an entirely new level, and paved the way for the big-budget, theater-quality series we’re so used to watching today. Since then, HBO has given us a slew of breakthrough programming, like "Band of Brothers," "Deadwood" and four incredible seasons of "Game of Thrones."
HBO was a must-have premium cable station then, and is now a staple during the era of streaming services. For those without HBO via their network provider, the $15/month price tag might seem a little steep. HBO’s movie library is revolving, but its main draw is its original programming. However, its new shows are few and far between.
Be on the lookout for HBO Max, which will include properties like "Friends," "South Park," "The Big Bang Theory" and "Doctor Who." It’s expected that HBO’s original programming will appear here as well. HBO Max will cost $15/month. Those who subscribe to HBO Now will be upgraded to Max for free.
Price: $6.99/month or $69.99/year
Available on: Everywhere
Notable, original programming: "The Mandalorian" and every single thing Disney (eventually)
4. Bottom Line: Disney+
Disney has bolstered its plan to become our entertainment overlords with the launch of Disney+ in November 2019. The service, which plans to eventually add everything Disney ever made to one streaming service, is practically essential for parents with young children.
It’s also hugely attractive for "Star Wars" and Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) fans. "The Mandalorian" proved that the "Star Wars' universe could successfully transfer to a television show format. Upcoming shows like "WandaVision" offer a hope that the same will happen for the MCU — and on a network where they won’t get canceled (we’re looking at you, Netflix).
Disney+ might not have enough content for everyone at the moment, but as one of the newest streaming services, its library is already impressive.
Available on: Everywhere
Notable, original programming: "The Handmaid’s Tale," "Veronica Mars," "Castle Rock," "The Mindy Project," "The Act," "Harlots"
Bottom Line: Hulu
Hulu is one of the cheapest paid streaming services if you want to deal with ads, but we suggest paying the extra $6 for the ad-free option. Otherwise, you’ll be seeing the same three to five advertisements repeat themselves like some kind of consumer brainwashing attempt.
Hulu’s original programming isn’t worth the monthly cost. Its main draw is its mammoth backlog of past and present television shows. It’s owned by Disney and has direct access to Disney-owned networks, like Fox, allowing for a robust library of television shows.
Hulu also offers a live television subscription plan with over 60 channels offered and a cloud DVR feature starting at $55/month, although you’ll want the $65/month option to record and fast-forward through ads.
Additionally, you can get a Disney+, Hulu (with ads) and ESPN+ bundle for $12.99/month, which is a phenomenal deal.
2. Amazon Prime Video
Price: $8.99.month for Prime Video only, $12.99/month-$119/year bundled with Amazon Prime
Available on: Everywhere
Notable, original programming: "The Grand Tour," "The Boys," "The Man in the High Castle," "Good Omens," "Jack Ryan," "Carnival Row," "Undone," "Bosch," "Sneaky Pete"
Bottom Line: Amazon Prime Video
Amazon’s Prime Video technically started out as Amazon Unbox in 2006, which followed the pay-per-show/movie model of iTunes. Prime Video as we know it launched in 2011 as part of its Amazon Prime package. Since then, Prime Video has beefed up its original series content and isn’t afraid to spend the cash to do so.
In 2015, Amazon paid top dollar (about $250 million) for the "Top Gears" guys to make an original series (three seasons of "The Grand Tour"). In the works is a highly anticipated series of "The Lord of the Rings," rumored to cost around $1 billion all-in. That will easily make it the most expensive TV show of all time.
It has a very sizable movie library as well, and its user-reviewed ratings, which pull from Amazon’s website, are more helpful than Netflix’s terrible predictive system. You can get Prime Video by itself, but the extra $4/month gets you Amazon Prime, which is well worth the upgrade if you use Amazon.
Available on: Just about everything
Notable, original programming: "The Crown," "The Witcher," "Tiger King," "Stranger Things," "Russian Doll," “The Irishman," "Sense8," "Ozark," "Bojack Horseman," "Mindhunter," "Dark"
Bottom Line: Netflix
Netflix was essentially the first packaged video streaming service and remains the best streaming service out there. While networks continue to pull their shows from Netflix’s lineup (goodbye, "Friends" and "The Office"), Netflix saw that writing on the wall early and has invested billions into its own original programming.
Are they all good? Hell no. Some of them are massive, expensive TV flops, and many of them aren’t worth your time. But when they’re good, oh, good golly, are they good.
"Tiger King" has become a national phenomenon. "The Crown" is one of the most critically acclaimed shows in modern history. And somehow, Netflix managed to not only not screw up "The Witcher," but produced one hell of a show.
The monthly cycle of movies keeps things fresh, and the service has the strongest lineup of comedy specials out of any streaming site, hands down. If only it would bring back the old Netflix ratings system.