When your parents couldn’t watch their favorite show, they were lost. If they were lucky, they would go through the episode they didn’t see one day again. Fortunately, we live in a historical moment in which watching your favorite content is easier than ever.
Streaming services compete for our attention, and the winners are us. Whatever you want to see, there it is. From horror, action, or romantic movies, children’s or sports programming, in the history of television entertainment, you have never had so many alternatives at your fingertips.
With the best sites and services for streaming and online TV on the market, you have so many options that, at times, it can be difficult to determine which is the most convenient for your needs.
We have put together the most convenient alternatives, detailing prices, features, and more to help you find your perfect match. In this article, we highlight services that offer movies and TV shows on-demand and rentals and purchases.
If you’re looking for the best live TV streaming services, we’ve got a separate article comparing all the major players’ key details.
Price $9 per month for one screen at a time in standard definition, $13 per month for two monitors in HD, $ 16 per month for four screens in 4K Ultra HD, including select titles in high dynamic range (HDR) and audio Dolby Atmos.
Compatible Devices: Virtually everything from game consoles and streaming boxes to smart TVs, computers, tablets, and smartphones. Almost every device and app store has a Netflix app, and it’s even a hotkey on most modern television remotes.
For whom it is? For fans of Netflix’s growing library of original content, for those who want to rewatch past seasons of hit TV shows and, to a lesser extent, for those who wish to popular new and old movies.
We are starting with the obvious. Even if you’ve been living in a cave for the past decade, Netflix has likely delivered a DVD in a red envelope to your stone mailbox.
In 1997, this is precisely how the company started, but it quickly adapted its business model to focus more on available instant streaming content. Since then, the company has been the king of the steaming jungle.
Netflix does not specify the number of movies and shows available in its library, beyond just saying that their numbers are in the thousands, which is vague but accurate. Netflix has the most robust content library of all streaming services, including third-party movies and TV series, and an increasingly massive collection of original content.
The company invests billions of dollars each year to create original shows and movies to “become HBO before HBO can become us,” according to Reed Hastings, which includes such hits as Stranger Things, Orange Is the New Black, House of Cards and The Witcher.
Besides offering content, Netflix has also added other features, with some titles available in 4K, others available in HDR, and a small handful supporting Dolby Atmos.
The service has also been improved for those who use it frequently while traveling, with the ability to download certain TV shows and movies so they can be viewed without an internet connection. And if you don’t have Netflix yet, we tell you how much it costs.
Price: $119 per year or $13 per month for Amazon Prime, which includes free shipping for any purchase made on Amazon.
Supported Devices: Most major streaming boxes, including Amazon’s Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, and most game consoles, tablets, and smartphones, with the notorious exception of the Chromecast.
For whom it is? For frequent Amazon buyers and those interested in the service’s award-winning original series. Amazon started by selling books online and is now the Walmart of the internet. A few years ago, the company broke into the streaming media market with Prime Video.
Free two-day shipping is also included, so if you’re one of those who buy a lot of things from Amazon, having access to visual entertainment is a great added value. The streaming service Amazon started as a service pay-per-view but has expanded to include an extensive library of streaming video on demand for Prime subscribers.
The company has been using its industry influence to sign partnerships with companies like Epix, Warner Bros., and HBO, as well as creating its exclusive series like The Grand Tour, The Man in the High Castle, The Tick, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Amazon puts pretty much everything at your fingertips, whether it’s streaming content, pay-per-view movies, and shows, or digital copies that you can buy and own. And unlike Netflix, Amazon 4K Ultra HD and HDR content come at no additional cost.
Price: $ 6 per month with ads, $ 12 per month without ads, $ 55 per month for life and on-demand TV, and $ 61 per month for live TV and on-demand service without ads.
Compatible Devices: Virtually all Internet-enabled set-top boxes, televisions, smartphones, game consoles, or tablets. For whom it is? Those were looking to catch up on current TV shows in addition to some original series or those who cut the cable and want to keep up with the latest concerts, news, and sports.
Hulu was created in 2007 as a joint venture between veteran media outlets NBC Universal, Fox Broadcasting, and Disney / ABC. Initially, the streaming service was completely free, but it launched a subscription-based version after garnered a considerable following.
In 2016, Hulu moved to an entirely subscription-based model and had since been creating its originals like The Path, Futureman, and Runaways to keep up with the streaming race.
While Hulu has a modest selection of movies, no other streaming service can compete with its library of newer TV shows. Original series aside, Netflix and Amazon platforms tend to make TV shows available only after the season is over, or even when they’re gone altogether.
In contrast, Hulu, in addition to having a robust roster of older shows and shows, publishes new shows that currently air only days (and sometimes hours) after airing. The only downside is that you will still be forced to watch ads unless you decide to pay for the premium service, which we recommend.
Hulu certainly had some hits when it comes to original content, but you don’t hear that many people talk about compulsively watching The Path in the same crazy race as Stranger Things or Game of Thrones.
Like Netflix and Amazon, Hulu also offers content in 4K, although it has not yet broadcast any of its shows in HDR.
4. Disney +
Price: $ 7 per month or $ 70 per year
Compatible devices: iOS devices, Apple TV (tvOS), Google Chromecast, Android, Android TV, PlayStation 4, Roku, Xbox One, Amazon Fire TV, and LG and Samsung smart TVs. For whom it is? For fans of movies from the Marvel universe, The Simpsons or the Star Wars saga.
If you are looking for an alternative to replace Netflix or the streaming service you currently use, Disney Plus is the most logical way. It has an extensive catalog of movies and television shows from Disney, Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Marvel Studios. In total, there are more than 600 movies and TV shows.
Among others are some of the most popular titles of all time, such as Star Wars, Toy Story, and Avengers franchises. The original Disney Plus series began with The Mandalorian, from the Star Wars universe, quite promising, and other classics, such as The Simpsons.
The platform also offers 4K, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos content on select titles and devices that support these formats. That includes just about every new TV show and movie and some classics, like the original Star Wars trilogy, which is available in 4K for the first time on Disney Plus. However, much of the older content on Disney Plus is only available in lower resolutions.
Another advantage is that you can experience Disney Plus in a variety of user contexts. You can download and use the application for platforms such as iOS or Android.
Since Disney owns Hulu, you can content Disney Plus within the Hulu app, although you will lose 4K features. As if that were not enough, it is compatible with the Apple TV application.
5. HBO Now
Price: $15 per month.
Compatible devices: Amazon Fire devices, Android phones, and tablets, Android TV, iOS devices, Apple TV, Chromecast, PlayStation 4, Roku, Xbox One.
For whom it is? Those after all of HBO’s premium content, from Curb Your Enthusiasm to Game of Thrones, not wanting to pay for a full cable subscription.
It’s a bit confusing. HBO has a nearly identical service called HBO GO for customers with cable subscriptions and HBO Max, the service will bring everything under one roof. For now, HBO Now is the version reserved for those who do not need a regular television package.
HBO Now features an adequate catalog of popular movies, although the service’s most popular features are its original content. Game of Thrones was one of the biggest series for years, at least until the final season, and Westworld has followed the same path. You can’t get this content on any other service, which makes HBO Now so compelling.
When HBO Now joins HBO Max in the course of 2020, the revamped service will include all current HBO Now content and a library full of classics like Friends, The Big Bang Theory, South Park, and more.
6. HBO Max
Price: $15 per month.
Android TV, Apple TV, Chromebook, Chromecast, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, some Samsung TVs, and cable providers. It is not available for Amazon Fire TV or Roku.
For whom it is? HBO Now and HBO Go still exist. However, the launch of HBO Max on May 27, 2020, puts both HBO’s streaming platforms in jeopardy. HBO Now and HBO differentiate between cable subscribers and those who want to cut it. HBO Max deepens that look, as well as providing significantly improved service.
Most cable users with an HBO subscription could get HBO Max for free at launch. If you are a paid HBO subscriber, you can easily upgrade to Max for free. If not, you can get Max without having a cable subscription.
HBO Max included 10,000 hours of the premium content at its launch, including the entire HBO service, past and present TV titles and movies from Warner Bros., the DC Expanded Universe, and a host of new Max Originals.
If you love HBO’s premium content, from Curb Your Enthusiasm to Game of Thrones, HBO Max gives you access to that and much more for just $15 a month.
HBO Max will house the entire library of classic TV shows like Friends, South Park, The Big Bang Theory, the Doctor Who remake, and more. It will also feature a series of Max Originals from creators like JJ Abrams, Studio Ghibli, Greg Berlanti, and more. HBO Max will also exclusively release Zack Snyder’s Justice League, known as the Synder Cut, during 2021.
Although HBO Max had a few issues at launch, including the complete absence of 4K content, the potential of HBO, and much more without a cable subscription is quite tempting. Put, if you only want large amounts of exclusive content and aren’t worried about the best visual quality, HBO Max is for you.
Price: gratis for content uploaded by users; $ 1 to $3 to rent movies; $10 to $20 to buy them.
YouTube Premium: $12 per month, allows ad-free viewing and adds features like the ability to download videos for offline playback.
YouTube TV: $65 per month for live TV streaming as an alternative to cable.
Compatible devices: almost any device with a screen, and that can be connected to the Internet.
For whom it is? For those looking for a less traditional viewing experience. YouTube is home to almost everything legal and probably some things that are not from the famous infames or challenges to old movies and documentaries.
Sure there is a lot of silly and downright weird stuff, but the site also has an excellent library of free and pay-per-view movies. More recently, the service has used friendlier streaming methods, including its YouTube Premium and YouTube TV, its live TV streaming service for those who want to leave the traditional cable company behind and which in July 2020 increased its rates.
On those nights when you don’t know precisely what you want to see, you can search for any topic that comes to mind. No matter how big the Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon libraries are, they will never have compilations of trampoline or bike accidents, or countless videos of kittens, puppies, and other fun pets.
For those and other reasons, YouTube will always enjoy a spot in most people’s attention, and it also achieves a place on our list of video streaming platforms.
Price: $ 6 per month with limited commercials and $10 per month without ads.
Supported Devices: Many devices stream CBS All Access, including Android, iOS, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku OS, PlayStation, and Xbox. Additionally, CBS recently began bundling the app on select smart TVs, so if you own a new Samsung or Vizio 4K TV, you should be able to get CBS All Access right away.
Who’s it for ?: For those CBS lovers who are afraid to cut the cord entirely. CBS All Access is a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu, except it only features CBS’s content. From iconic titles like CSI: Miami and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to a wide range of titles from CBS’s full library, there’s content to enjoy to spare.
It also houses some originals that you can’t get anywhere else, like the famous Star Trek: Picard. Additionally, All Access offers local CBS stations: CBSN, CBS Sports HQ, and ET Live 24/7.
This means you can access live programming anytime, from any compatible device, anywhere in the United States. However, you will still be subject to live TV commercials, even with the commercial-free subscription.
9. AppleTV +
Price: $ 5 per month. If you bought a new Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, or Mac after September 10, 2019, you could get Apple TV + for one year at no additional cost. Students who subscribe to Apple Music for $ 5 get Apple TV + for free.
Compatible Devices: Apple TV + is available on all modern Apple hardware, including all iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices capable of running the latest operating systems; Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD; and third-generation Apple televisions.
It is also available through Safari, Chrome, or Firefox web browsers; Samsung smart TVs; Amazon Fire TV; and Roku devices.
Who’s it for People who love Apple.
The main difference between AppleTV + and the other streaming services is its original content. Apple has invested millions in scoring talents like Steve Carell, Jennifer Aniston, Chris Evans, Reese Witherspoon, and Jason Momoa.
Shows like The Morning Show, Servant, Dickinson, and For All Mankind had big advertising budgets. They didn’t get the same critical or commercial success as Netflix, Hulu, or HBO originals.
AppleTV + ‘s first big win came with Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon’s anthology series Little America, chronicling what it’s like to be an immigrant in America.
10. Google Play
Price: $ 5 for standard definition, $ 6 for HD. Movie purchases: $ 10 to $ 20 in HD. TV Shows: $ 2 to $ 3 per episode, with discounts for entire seasons.
Supported Devices: Android and iOS mobile phones, Smart TVs with Android TV, Chromecast, Roku, and even Apple TV devices (streaming from an iPhone via AirPlay). For whom it is? For Android and Google hobbyists who want to rent and buy digital movies quickly.
Google Play has a large selection of newly released movies, while TV shows are often available the day after they air. Google Play’s on-demand format is similar to Vudu or iTunes and can be a great complement to sites like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
Like most of the other services on this list, Google Play supports 4K and HDR, and a useful update to the Google Play Movies & TV Android app now shows when a TV series or movie is available.
This platform is excellent for new movies, but it is not available on all devices (and it likely never will be) means that it is not for everyone. The pay-for-content model is great for getting the latest versions, but the rental fees will add up quickly.
If you’re not an Amazon Prime member, Google Play is an excellent place to start if you’re looking for a movie, and the service does offer some great deals from time to time.
Price: $ 5 for a standard definition movie rental, $ 6 for HD, $ 15 for SD movie purchases, $ 20 for HD, and $ 25 for 4K Ultra HD (where available).
Compatible Devices: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Roku, Nvidia Shield, and Chromecast streaming devices; LG, Samsung, and Vizio smart TVs; Blu-ray players from LG, Samsung, and Sony; PlayStation 4 and Xbox One game consoles. For whom it is? Moviegoers who want rentals and purchases that get the most out of their home theater setup.
Amazon may be the Walmart of the internet, but that doesn’t stop Walmart from getting into the online streaming game. Vudu is Walmart’s pay-for-content store, and the supermarket giant is working hard to make sure Vudu becomes a household name.
Vudu has content comparable to what you will find in the Google Play or iTunes video market. It’s a mix of movies and TV shows, but generally, the content drifts into more feature films.
Walmart does an excellent job of offering new releases around the same time as they come out on Blu-ray. Vudu will also receive all the digital copies of Movies Anywhere that may be available with the movies you buy with a free digital locker service.
The streaming service also includes Movies On Us, a rotating selection of movies and TV shows that are ad-supported but viewable for free. You won’t find the latest videos here, but the choice is decent, and it’s a great way to relax and watch something while saving a few bucks.
Vudu may be the best rental service when it comes to streaming quality. Many of its 4K Ultra HD titles are HDR-compatible, including Dolby Vision and sometimes Dolby Atmos for surround sound.
12. Movies Anywhere
Compatible Devices: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Amazon Kindle Fire tablets, Amazon Fire TV devices, Roku devices, Xbox, and Apple TV.
For whom it is? Movie fans who want to do all their shopping in one place. If you’re going to buy movies from more than one service, Movies Anywhere is for you.
Formerly a Disney exclusive service, Movies Anywhere lives up to its name today, offering movies from Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., and Universal Pictures, bringing the total number of titles available to approximately 7,500.
Even better, Movies Anywhere lets you watch movies from previous studios purchased from multiple services, including Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, FandangoNow, and most recently, Microsoft Movies & TV.
This also includes Blu-ray discs and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray for movies from previous studios via digital download code. Connect the various accounts to your Movies Anywhere statement, and you are ready to go.
It’s hard to say what the future holds for Movies Anywhere in terms of content, but it seems likely that more studios will join in at some point, further expanding the service’s catalog.
FandangoNow was initially known as M-Go but changed its name shortly after the movie ticketing company Fandango acquired it in 2016. Like some of the previous services, it is a rental service, and, As such, it offers similar features and pricing to Google, Apple, and Vudu, though it has its features to offer as well.
Along with a few other services on this list, FandangoNow is part of the Movies Anywhere service, which we will see below.
The best service will depend on what and how you want to see it. Suppose you are looking for original content and movies. In that case, Netflix could be your best option, while if you are looking for a recently broadcast TV series, you will probably prefer Hulu, in addition to the live television service of this platform. The best option is to mix and match a few functions to achieve the result that is most suitable for your needs.