We are living in the era of “streaming wars” with how every media giant has or is launching a brand new subscription video on-demand over-the-top streaming service. TV is sure more stellar to watch than ever. But with the profusion of video streaming services now available, it can get difficult to pick any one most worth your hard-earned money. At the same time, there is little reason why you should settle for less when the world of streaming TV is rather off-limits. So then, how do you settle on a single streaming service for your household?
Well, the answer is simple. You must learn about the best streaming services out there before you go ahead and subscribe to one—especially if you want the finest quality tele and bang for your buck.
When deciding on a streaming service, there are some things you must consider. For instance your TV preferences as in which movies and original shows you like. How essential a back catalog of titles is to you. And, your budget of course.
So let’s have a look at some of the best video streaming services in 2021—ranked in order, starting with the best.
With its brilliant 4K picture format and exclusive content, Netflix continues to set the bar for the streaming TV industry. The streaming service has invested in bringing forth a progressively flourishing collection of original programming, comprising of ongoing TV series, exclusive movies, comedy specials, and documentaries. And, even when your favorite movies or shows bid farewell to the platform for another service, Netflix Originals retain your interest—making every penny you put in return its full worth and then some.
In fact the popularity of brilliant Netflix Originals, like The Witcher, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, House of Cards, Outlander, Bridgerton, vindicates the relatively high subscription cost. And so do other aspects of the streaming platform—such as the seamless working and features of its app, the ability to access offline downloads on your mobile device, and of course the total absence of ads as you stream your favorites. What’s more, Netflix has succeeded at inspiring streaming rivals to direct attention to producing original content that begets more value.
Netflix also has a vast library of content for kids. And, a unique interface intended to allow them to select their preferred shows without coming across adult programming. This feature makes it a great option for parents who want to invest in a single entertainment option to meet the needs of the entire family.
Netflix is criticized for not being too candid about letting subscribers know about changes to content availability. But then again, it is an aspect of the service that has ostensibly failed to deter TV buffs from seeking quality original content on Netflix.
Prime Video is a competent and economical streaming service from Amazon that offers a lot more than just a Prime membership. Towards the end of 2020, Prime Video members numbered at an estimated 150 million—which makes the streaming giant rank #2 among subscription VOD streaming services.
Prime Video is a good option for cord-cutters as it presents an assorted variety of shows and movies FREE with the membership. Their collection of movies is pretty sizeable, and titles often rotate. Albeit relative to competition the library of high-quality entertainment is not extensive, Prime Video is known for carrying excellent original content such as—The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Fear the Walking Dead, The Lie, Electric Dreams and The Boys. Plus, the streaming giant showcases a good number of international titles e.g. a number of series acquired from the BBC.
A rare feature of the service is you can purchase or rent a movie available on home video, and watch it on your timeline with the Prime Video app. Just a heads-up: you get only 30 days to watch a rented video, after which the title disappears from the queue. Also, once you start playing a rented movie, in most cases you are limited to 48 hours to watch it.
Another unique offering from Prime Video is the service gives you the option to add streaming channels. Meaning Amazon Prime members can add channels without cable—but mind it—this feature is not come free of cost, rather like an add-on subscription which gives you access to third-party networks.
Prime Video puts at your disposal 4K streaming, along with HDR10 playback support on select titles. But, unlike Netflix, you don’t have to subscribe to a higher plan to watch content in the best audio-visual format. With that said, Netflix does beat Amazon Prime Video in terms of content quality—and has also been losing third-party content to other streaming services.
Thanks to numerous plans and a wide variety of content, Hulu maintains its position as one of the most reasonably priced streaming services with unrivaled choices.
Hulu offers subscribers two primary on-demand streaming packages—a Basic plan which is not ad-free and a Premium plan free of ads. What’s more, you can opt for the Hulu upgrade package i.e. Hulu Live which includes live TV with 65 popular networks, a live TV guide and 50 hours of Cloud DVR storage.
The streaming platform rightly boasts an awe-inspiring on-demand library of TV shows with a more extensive variety of classic and new content than Amazon or Netflix. As a cherry on top, for current-season shows in its streaming library, Hulu gives users next-day streaming access—for instance, content aired by popular broadcast networks like Fox and ABC. Albeit the launch of CBS All Access and Peacock by NBCUniversal has had an impact on the Hulu on-demand library, with The Walt Disney Company parenting it, Hulu is likely to be never be short of quality content. In terms of original content, Hulu may not be able to match up to competitors Netflix or Prime Video, but with originals like Little Fires Everywhere, The Handmaid’s Tale, Veronica Mars, Ramy, and The Act—it is not a surprise the streaming service is trending upwards. As for the mainstream Hulu movie collection it is quite decent too—and likelihood is in 2021 Hulu will be able to grab a couple of same-day-release premiers.
The one aspect of the service which beats the giants in the business is the combo of Hulu VOD with live and on-demand TV from popular American broadcast and pay-tv networks—from news to sports, lifestyle and general entertainment—it is all there! With that said, the subscription cost of Hulu Live stands at $64.99/mo. which puts it in the league of IPTV services such as AT&T TV.
Hulu offers 4K streaming for specific programs only, and on select devices—its 4K lineup is pretty limited relative to competitors. Also, the service does not offer HDR support, and lets only 2 devices to stream simultaneously. But, you can get rid of device usage restrictions, and also include premium networks in your package by paying extra every month.
Disney Plus is the number one streaming option for families and the first choice of the admirers of hit franchises like Star Wars and Marvel. The greatest selling point of the fastest growing streaming platform is no doubt its generous catalog of existing Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars titles. Also, if you are a fan of Disney’s all-time classic animated films, the streaming service is definitely the whole shooting match for you.
Although Disney Plus carries original series and films, its lineup remains rather undersized relative to competitors. By aiming to add over a 100 new titles every year this shortcoming maybe addressed—but the streaming service would still be not be stepping outside the realm of existing content, or playing with new concepts and captivating stories.
With that said, the family-oriented appeal which Disney enjoys, plays a huge role in its growing popularity. The platform does not carry R-rated content, and movies are limited to PG-13—even the original blockbuster show The Mandalorian.
All in all, the free of commercials Disney Plus does offer the perfect mix of titles, streaming quality, and values. With its infinite reserve of family-friendly entertainment, the streaming service offers everything to make it a preferred choice for parents. Albeit if you did not grow up watching Disney content, you may want to pick a platform that offers more mature content.
HBO Max is the high-class streaming service launched last year by WarnerMedia—the first choice of lovers of iconic movies, premium TV, and the latest film releases—the one platform where you get your hands on everything HBO!
HBO Max offers a combination of classic and current HBO titles, selection of shows and movies from other WarnerMedia brands, acquired content, and all new Max Originals. From critically acclaimed HBO content and first-rate popular shows like Friends to compilations of titles from Turner Classic Movies, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, and DC Universe—you can watch it all!
Just like the cable channel, HBO Max takes pride in showcasing the best in movies—courtesy of its access rights to content created by the likes of Warner Bros., and New Line Cinema. The streaming service also features classic films like Casablanca, A Streetcar Named Desire, Gone with the Wind, & Pride and Prejudice. And, this is one place where you get to watch classic animated series alongside the current ones—Dexter’s Laboratory, The Flintstones, The Powerpuff Girls, The Jetsons and more.
Moreover, if you are looking to reminisce past blockbusters like Game of Thrones and The Wire, and also want to catch up with HBO exclusives like Succession, Watchmen, and Lovecraft Country—which have raised the bar for premium TV entertainment—an HBO Max subscription would be totally worth it.
Adding to the value of subscription are the family offerings from HBO Max—for instance the new episodes of Sesame Street besides the plethora of educational content for kids and teens—needless to say the service is quite sufficient in options that can keep kids engaged on an indoor afternoon.
And the cherry on top? Well, HBO Max is now home to the latest Warner Bros. theatrical releases—in 2021 you can stream every new Warner Bros. movie the same day as it premieres in the theater. Following the release of Wonder Woman 1984, there is more to come such as the Suicide Squad and The Matrix 4. But, do keep in mind these films are accessible only for the first month from the date of release.
As of now, the only downside to HBO Max is a limited selection of 4K HDR content. But considering until last year 4K was not supported by the service, and it was with the premier of Wonder Woman 1984 that HBO Max kicked off its support for the sought-after picture format, it is likely the 4K content library would continue to expand.
Chances are you must be already familiar with most names on our list of the top 5 streaming services in 2021. But as we said, learning a little about what each has to offer can help you figure out which one maybe the best fit for your TV inclinations. What you must remember though as you move towards becoming a cord-cutter, you must secure a fast and reliable internet service. Without a broadband connection that is able to support concurrent streams on more than one device, the joy of streaming TV is bound to get lost in lags and buffer loops. The likes of AT&T and Spectrum provide fast and reliable broadband, which is able to support multiple users, and does not cost you an arm and a leg either
In addition to that, you’ll require a compatible device such as a smartphone, tablet, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, or Roku. Once you’ve checked all the prerequisites, and weighed your options, pick the one that perfectly fits your devices, viewing habits, and budget.
Netflix. With its brilliant 4K quality and exclusive shows, Netflix continues to raise the bar in the streaming industry with its original content, movies, TV shows, and comedy specials.
Netflix is the best streaming service overall, followed by Prime Video from Amazon. Disney Plus is an ideal choice for kids and family entertainment while Hulu is the most affordable. And, if you want a perfect blend of classic and current content, you must get an HBO Max subscription.
With its amazing 4K quality and original programming, Netflix remains the most popular streaming service in 2021.
For sports lovers who wish to cut the cord, fuboTV is a better choice due to its wide-range of sports-focused networks. On the contrary, Hulu Live TV maybe more valuable for those who love binging on TV shows and prefer a combination of live TV and video-on-demand.
Overall Hulu is a dependable and one of the most affordable options. Sling TV on the other hand offers flexible subscription choices, but it is pricey and lacks original content. With that said, take a look at the channels both services have to offer, and make a choice that is in line with your preferences.