Hulu Vs. Amazon Prime Video: Which Streaming Service Is Best For...
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Of course (like just about every media company these days) Disney also has its own streaming service in Disney+, which offers over 600 TV shows and movies from its Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar properties, among many other options under the mega-mouse umbrella.
ESPN Plus doesn't show live NFL or NBA games, however, and while its vast library of original programming is impressive, it's difficult to navigate. While the year service is best suited for die-hard fans of the sports it covers well, more casual fans might find themselves with an ESPN Plus subscription anyway through the Disney Bundle, which also includes Hulu and Disney Plus starting at $13 a month. A standalone subscription for ESPN Plus costs $10, but some viewers may find it more cost-effective to pay for one of the Disney Bundles, which range from $13-$20 monthly.
This list is ordered based on the numerical value I assigned to each streaming service in their individual review, which I determined by design (i.e. ease of use across different TV and mobile platforms), features (like 4K HDR, mobile downloads, recommendations, watch lists and number of streams), content (number of shows and quality of originals and back catalogs) and value (price compared to these other factors). Click through to the full reviews for more details.
This list includes major on-demand streaming services only. It does not include live TV streaming services for cord-cutters (think Sling TV, YouTube TV, which offer live channels intended to replace cable), free streaming services like Tubi or Crackle or smaller, niche services like Crunchyroll or PBS Kids or regional sports networks. You can check out our other best lists for streaming services that cater to anime, kids and more.
To help you decide what to sign up for, we rounded up the best streaming services of 2023 and broke down what makes each of them unique. Our picks primarily focus on on-demand subscription platforms, but we also included separate sections for live TV and specialty streaming channels.
Streaming quality can vary from channel to channel, but they all typically maintain 720p or 1080p resolution. Again, you'll want to check the specific channel packages and other perks offered by each service to figure out which is best for you.
Since the goal is entertainment, choosing the best on-demand streaming service for your needs will largely come down to your personal tastes. However, we can judge the different on-demand platforms based on a few common factors, like their library size, selection of critically acclaimed exclusives, video quality, app functionality, and price.
The best on-demand streaming services have set a standard for 4K video quality, with support for HDR color and contrast on compatible TVs. TV channels rarely broadcast in 4K, so we have lower expectations for live TV streaming services, which still use HD resolutions like 1080p or 720p.
When comparing catalogs, we try to consider the range of entertainment offered by each streaming service, how much the platform has invested in exclusive programming, and which age ranges are best suited to watch. While most streaming services will have a rotating list of movies, it's important to pay attention to which series and franchises will remain platform exclusive, like "The Office," "Star Wars," and "Stranger Things."
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The best streaming services will help you stream all the great content that isn't on cable (on services that seek to replace cable). And the first big new show of the year will be on HBO Max, as video game adaptation The Last of Us finally arrives. Unfortunately, HBO Max is the latest service to raise its prices.
These services are just one half of the streaming equation, though. As the cable box slowly withers away, it's being replaced by smart TVs and the best streaming devices, which include Rokus and Chromecasts. And by testing the best streaming services and devices side-by-side, we figure out the best way to build the ultimate streaming setup with the best selection of content and live channels.
Hulu's one of the most interesting options on this list, and its unique nature makes sure it's one of the best streaming services. While it doesn't deliver as many new originals as say Netflix, its quality to quantity ratio is better. But more importantly, its next-day airings of cable and broadcast TV shows make it a must-have for many cord-cutters who don't want to spend $40 or more on the likes of Sling. And while it's still our value pick, a new Hulu price hike is raising entry to $7.99 per month, though that's still cheaper than the $9.99 basic Netflix plan.
In addition, the service hosts a number of original shows (including joint ventures with the BBC, like The Wrong Mans and season 4 of The Thick of It), a selection of offbeat movies and a surprising amount of classic anime series. Recent Hulu hits include Only Murderers In the Building season 2, Fire Island and The Dropout. Even with a paid subscription, you have to sit through commercials, but far fewer than if you watched the same shows on cable. Hulu's live TV streaming option is also a solid aspect of its overall package, and that will let you watch CBS too. Wondering what to watch? Check out our lists of the best shows on Hulu and the best movies on Hulu.
The great-granddaddy in the market remains near the top of our list of the best streaming services. As you probably know, Netflix provides unlimited streaming of TV shows, movies, comedy specials and original programming (we need Stranger Things 5 now) for one monthly subscription fee. It's continuing to try and make big movies its big thing, but The Gray Man wasn't exactly a winner (a sequel is coming, though). The new Netflix with ads plan offers a new $6.99 entry-point.
We're also curious about what will change with the addition of TV-MA content in the U.S., as Disney Plus getting the Netflix Marvel shows and improved parental controls. Deadpool, Deadpool 2 and Logan are the first R-rated Disney plus movies, too, but those are just drops in the bucket, as Netflix and HBO Max have long outranked Disney Plus when it comes to a wide variety of content for adults. Fans of Disney, Marvel, Pixar and/or Star Wars have no choice but to subscribe, which makes Disney Plus one of the best streaming services.
Other popular networks, like NBC, BBC America, CNN, Cartoon Network, TBS and the Food Network, sweeten the deal. If you want a live TV service with more channels (such as ABC and CBS), we say consider Fubo TV, unless you need TNT. In which case, Sling may be the best for you. Check out our Sling TV guide to packages, channels and more. While the other popular streaming services start at around $65 or $70, Sling stands out with its $40 per month starting price. In
When we first named Apple TV Plus one of the best streaming services, it entered this list at the very end, in last place. In the months since? We keep going back to Apple TV Plus, as its hot streak is almost unparalleled outside of HBO Max. Severance is arguably the show of 2022, The Afterparty was a great surprise and Apple TV Plus even took home the best picture Oscar for CODA. So for anyone who says Apple TV Plus is for "Ted Lasso and little else," tell them they need to check out the best Apple TV Plus shows and movies. It's serving up programming that continues to surprise and charm, while Netflix almost feels routine and boring.
Amazon Prime Video's biggest hit is The Boys, which has already had one animated spinoff (a college-based one is also coming). The thing we don't love about Prime Video is how its apps vary greatly across platforms. When we tested Prime Video on Roku or Apple TV or Chromecast, we saw fewer sorting and discovery options than we did on a Fire TV device. You can also rent or purchase movies through Amazon Prime Video, but it's an à la carte service. Check out our list of the best Prime Video movies for more recommendations.
Apple TV Plus earned its spot on the best best streaming services by becoming more than just a service you watch Ted Lasso on. The likes of Pachinko, Severance, CODA, The Afterparty and Shining Girls have proven that Apple has an eye for good content. Annoyingly, we've found that it isn't on all brands of Smart TVs.
This streaming service, which began as a live-streaming platform for die-hard soccer fans, ties at No. 1 in both our Best Sports Streaming Services of 2023 and Best Live TV Streaming Services of 2023 lists. Though it now covers entertainment, fuboTV still maintains its sports-centric roots, with its basic plan offering networks beloved by sports fans, including ESPN, Fox Sports, and beIN Sports, among others.
One of the major draws of this streaming service is that it offers a free option. It also has two paid subscription plans, Premium ($1.99 per month) and Plus ($9.99 per month), which include more content and features. Of these three choices, only Plus is ad-free.
Even with an ad-supported base plan ($4.99 per month), Paramount+ subscribers have access to live streams of NFL games from their local CBS station, a major perk for football fans. For $9.99 a month, the streaming service also offers an ad-free Premium option, which allows users to download content for offline viewing.
The live TV streaming services start at about $25 a month and don't require long-term contracts or additional equipment beyond your internet router and internet-enabled devices like a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Unlike on-demand content, which can be accessed at any time, Live TV streaming involves content that is being broadcast live as you watch. This means you can't binge-watch multiple shows unless you save them with a digital video recorder (DVR). However, if you want more of a broadcast TV experience, seek to avoid spoilers, and want to watch live sports, then live TV streaming may be your best option. Our Best Live TV Streaming Services of 2023 guide can help you find the best streaming service for your budget and your needs. 2b1af7f3a8