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Best Video Streaming Services for 2021: Best for Originals, TV Shows, Movies, and more

There are tons of streaming services out there for you to subscribe to. Here's what you should know about each of them before making a decision.

Hedy Phillips
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Netflix

Best for current TV shows: Hulu Best for original content: NetflixBest for families: Disney+
Over 70,000 TV episodes and movies Two simultaneous streams Seven-day free trial Over 5,000 titles Four simultaneous streams Outstanding original contentLargest selection of Disney content on any streaming service Can be bundled with Hulu and ESPN+ Four simultaneous streams

On-demand streaming services offer a little bit of everything — including some of your favorite network and cable TV shows. As these streamers gain popularity, they're also expanding their libraries to include new titles and a ton of original content. They're becoming so top-notch, in fact, that streaming services are finding a prominent place in the award show circuit, with many of them taking home nominations and trophies for their original shows and movies. But which is the best streaming service for you? Let's take a look at the options and compare streaming services.

What are the best on-demand video streaming services?

Compare top on-demand streaming services


NetflixHuluHBO MaxDisney+Apple TV+Amazon Prime VideoSling
Starting price $9/mo.$6/mo.$15/mo.$8/mo.$5/mo.$13/mo.$35/mo.
On-demand library 5,500+ titles2,700+ titles2,000+ titles500+ titles50 titles14,000+ titlesBased on channels
Simultaneous streams Up to 4Up to 2Up to 3Up to 4Up to 6Up to 3Up to 4
Number of account users 5657661
Offline viewing YesYesYesYesYesYesNo

Choosing the right on-demand streaming service

There are several things to consider when deciding which on-demand streaming services are right for you — and the best choice might be a combo of several of them! Aside from the actual library of content, there's the price to consider, as well as what devices you have, and even streaming speeds. Some streamers will work on a slower streaming speed but others require a little more power. Let's take a closer look at all of them.

Best for original titles: Netflix

Price ($9/mo.)

David Harbour, Stranger Things

David Harbour, Stranger Things

/ Netflix

Pros

Netflix has a huge library with a mix of shows, movies, docuseries, and more. Netflix also offers a plethora of original content, providing some of the best streaming shows, movies, and documentaries, many of which are winning big-time awards. Netflix also constantly rolls out new titles, so the library always feels fresh. And at $9 per month for a basic plan, it's a relatively low price point and remains ad-free.

Cons

There's no live component. If you're looking for a strictly on-demand streaming service, that may not matter. But on Netflix, you won't be able to watch popular shows live, and you won't get any shows that are currently airing on cable; those typically arrive on Netflix at a later date, making cable content ever-so-slightly stale on the streaming service. Netflix is also losing some licensed content to other streaming services as more networks create their own streaming apps. 

What to watch on Netflix

Netflix has so much original content worth watching. You can stream movies online like recently released film I Care a Lot, which won a Golden Globe in 2021 for lead actress Rosamund Pike. On the TV show side, Regency-era romance Bridgerton, a Shonda Rhimes-led series, landed on Netflix at the end of 2020 and quickly drew in millions of viewers around the world. Netflix also has popular network favorites like CBS series Criminal Minds and FX's American Horror Story.

Get Netflix

Best for current TV shows: Hulu

Price ($6/mo.)

Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid's Tale

Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid's Tale

/ Sophie Giraud, Hulu

Pros

Hulu is one of the best TV streaming services, because it offers plenty of shows that are currently airing on broadcast and cable. These shows are viewable on Hulu the day after they air live, so you don't feel too behind the times. Hulu is also one of the most affordable streamers at just $6 a month for the basic, ad-supported plan, though you can pay extra for an ad-free experience, add-ons, and live TV. You can also upgrade your plan for a month to watch a specific show or event on live TV, and then bump it back down to the regular Hulu plan the next month — there are no contracts.

Cons

The Hulu plan with no ads is an upcharge, which is annoying, but at $12 per month, it's not that much more expensive than Netflix. It also doesn't have quite as large a content library as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.  

What to watch on Hulu

Hulu also has a library of original content that's worth watching, like The Handmaid's Tale and A Teacher. The streamer also offers next-day viewings of popular shows like The Bachelor and The Masked Singer.

Get Hulu

Best for movies: HBO Max

Price ($15/mo.)

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones
HBO

Pros

HBO Max is one of the best streaming sites for movies. All the movies you see in your cable menu for the HBO channels are available anytime on HBO Max. Plus, all of HBO's original content is immediately available to stream when it's airing on cable. It can also be streamed in HD at a download speed of 5 Mbps, which is a generally attainable speed for the average internet service. If you have the capabilities, you can stream 4K as well — you just need a download speed of 25 Mbps.

Cons

HBO Max is a little higher in price than some of the other streaming services for not any more titles. And while it has quite a few titles to choose from, it doesn't have the breadth of channels. It also doesn't offer a free trial.

What to watch on HBO Max

HBO Max hosts all the HBO originals, like Game of Thrones and Euphoria, as well as HBO Max originals like the Golden Globe-nominated The Flight Attendant. Plus, Sesame Street, the entire Studio Ghibli collection, an array of anime thanks to a deal with Crunchyroll, and beloved movies like RockyWedding Crashers, and The Departed.

Get HBO Max

Best for families: Disney+

Price ($8/mo.)

Homescreen of Disney Plus

Pros

Disney+ is the only place you can stream Disney shows and movies on demand, making it another one of the best movie streaming sites. It also has plenty of its own original content to offer, as well as a large catalog of popular movies from years past. Disney+ also has a large library of Marvel and Star Wars films and TV series. 

Cons

The library is on the small side, but if you're looking for a streamer specifically for family content, this shouldn't be an issue. Disney Plus also doesn't offer a free trial.

What to watch on Disney+

Original shows like The Mandalorian and WandaVision, as well as Disney classics like The Lion King and The Little Mermaid. Disney+ also hosts a number of fascinating documentaries that give you behind-the-scenes looks at the Disney company and its projects, like Inside Pixar and Disney Gallery. You'll even find nostalgic movies and TV shows like 10 Things I Hate About You and Hannah Montana

Get Disney+

Best for budget: Apple TV+

Price ($5/mo.)

Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso

Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso

/ Apple TV+

Pros

Apple TV+ is only $5 a month and is free for many people who have purchased an Apple product, making this an ideal streaming service to have around if you only have a few dollars to spare. It also features original content that you won't find anywhere else, and allows you to have six simultaneous streams. Even better: There are no ads.

Cons

The library is incredibly small and would probably only appeal to someone who is on a budget or who already has several other streaming services. Apple TV+'s library is strictly originals, with TV shows, movies, and documentaries across various genres.

What to watch on Apple TV+

Dickinson and the award-winning series Ted Lasso and The Morning Show are among the most popular shows streaming on Apple TV+. If you're a fan of The Late Late Show With James Corden's Carpool Karaoke, you can find an expanded series exclusively on Apple TV+. There are also fascinating documentaries, like Beastie Boys Story and Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry.

Get Apple TV+

Best for a little bit of everything: Amazon Prime Video

Price ($13/mo.)

Titus Welliver and Jamie Hector, Bosch

Titus Welliver and Jamie Hector, Bosch

/ Amazon Studios

Pros

You can watch TV series online through Amazon Prime Video's massive streaming library — it's about triple the size of Netflix. It has a little bit of everything, including original content. It also offers even more movies and TV shows for rent, should you want to watch something that's not available on the subscription service.

Cons

Speaking of renting and paying extra, a lot of what might be considered top-quality titles are not included in the actual $13 per month price.  

What to watch on Amazon Prime Video

Award-winning titles like Fleabag and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, as well as newer shows like The Wilds and The Boys are all binge-worthy. You'll also find hot new hits like Coming 2 America and One Night in Miami, as well as other award-winning shows and movies exclusive to Amazon Prime. 

Get Amazon Prime Video

Best for live TV combo: Sling TV

Price ($35/mo.)

Two women watching Rogue One loading screen on television

Pros

Sling TV offers a combination of live TV channels and on-demand streaming. If you're in the market for one app that will provide both, Sling is that option, plus it's a budget deal compared to cable. There is also a Sling TV free trial

Cons

Sling TV's on-demand selection is virtually nonexistent, based on the live channels rather than original content. For customers who really want a true on-demand library, they won't find it here. 

What to watch on Sling 

Sling TV is truly designed for live TV viewing. With either a Sling Blue or Sling Orange package, you'll get a selection of live TV channels with their on-demand counterparts. With Sling Blue, you'll have access to channels like TLC, Food Network, and Bravo, which means plenty of reality TV to choose from. The Real Housewives90 Day Fiance, and Chopped will all be available. With Sling Orange, you'll get channels like ESPN and Freeform, allowing for a mix of popular sports as well as shows like Good Trouble.  

Get Sling TV

Best for live TV: fuboTV

Price ($65/mo.)

180605-world-cup-fubo.jpg
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Pros

fuboTV is really more of a live TV option, though it does have some on-demand options. The live channel availability is where it truly shines, especially for sports channels. There is also a fuboTV free trial.

Cons

fuboTV's on-demand options are slim and are based on the live channels rather than any original content. Plus, there's no offline viewing. 

What to watch on fuboTV

With more than 120 channels, fuboTV has a little bit of everything. What you'll primarily get is live TV, but you'll also have access to the on-demand libraries that correlate with the channels. All of the standard broadcast channels will be available — ABC, CBS, NBC, CBS — plus cable favorites like Lifetime, FX, ESPN, BET, and more. So you can watch the Lakers play live on ESPN and then switch to Lifetime on-demand to watch the latest original movie.

Get fuboTV

What we recommend

Depending on what you're looking for, there's definitely an on-demand streaming service (or two) for you. After considering your budget and content tastes, you can narrow it down on this list to what works best. Netflix and Hulu are two of the most popular streaming services for a reason; they both have award-winning original content and massive libraries, and both are relatively affordable.