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Let’s dive into the growing pool of streaming services and find options that meet your needs at a reasonable price.
There seems to be a streaming service for every budget, viewing habit, and niche. The challenge for most people is finding one that’s versatile enough to justify its cost. In contrast, people with narrow, specific needs may have an easier time finding a good fit. This is especially true for sports fanatics, history buffs, documentary enthusiasts, and fans of all things horror.
The focus of this article will be on streaming services that aim to offer ‘something for everyone’.
How to get value for money from streaming services
It’s as easy as making a short checklist of the qualities you want in the ideal streaming service. The platform you end up choosing should check most boxes on your list. Here’s a sample checklist that most of us can work with:
- A large, stable catalog that spans many genres
- Quality content
- Pricing plans that are easy to understand
- Affordable bundles with add-ons for sports, news, documentaries, and other niche content
- User-friendly interface that works on most devices and platforms
- Whenever possible, a streaming service should offer useful perks (Amazon’s Prime Video comes to mind)
- Live TV streaming services should have adequate cloud storage
The thread that runs through this list is quality, quantity, and versatility. A streaming service that delivers on these three areas should also deliver maximum bang for your buck. With that, we look into the best streaming services around.
Netflix goes first on our lineup because of its vast catalog of classics, popular network shows, and original content. The service leverages its app to render content across most platforms and devices.
Flagship titles like Stranger Things, Squid Games, and Bird Box only add to the prestige of the Netflix brand. It also doesn’t hurt that the company casts a wide net to acquire content from numerous countries around the world.
Netflix works to provide quality content that caters to all kinds of tastes and the company’s approach pays off. If you look hard enough, you will even find gaming titles and good content for children. This is in addition to a good selection of documentaries and specials.
Pricing and plans
The basic Netflix plan depends on ad revenue to keep subscription costs low. At the time this article goes out, the basic Netflix plan will cost you $7 per month. The ad-free plan will cost you $10 per month. Both plans limit subscribers to two simultaneous streams, meaning that you’ll need to pay extra to have more views or downloads at the same time.
A rebrand is one of several changes that we see with the HBO Max streaming service. The changes go further by merging the Discovery+ and HBO catalogs, which may explain the disappearance of the HBO tag. What does the HBO and Discovery Plus combination mean for viewers?
Max subscribers will have their fill of titles from the DC extended universe. TV shows and films from the DC universe appear on rotation in the Max catalog. Warner also aims to create straight-to-streaming DC movies that would never make financial sense on the big screen.
Nostalgic viewers get access to classic shows like Friends, The Sopranos, Oz, and The Wire. You also get access to fan favorites like Succession and Game of Thrones.
The inclusion of Discovery+ caters to subscribers who like documentaries, unscripted shows, and educational content.
Price plans for Max
The Max app works on most devices and platforms, and it allows two users to stream content at the same time. A monthly fee of $10 gets you the ad-supported plan, or you could go ad-free for $15 a month. Note that these numbers reflect the pricing as of July 2023, which means that the monthly fee could change.
3. Disney Plus
Of all the streaming services, Disney Plus may carry the largest collection of child-friendly content. The platform also offers access to a large selection of titles from the Marvel Universe. It gets better, with a catalog that includes the majority of Pixar, Star Wars, and Disney back-catalogs. The icing on the cake is content from National Geographic, which covers documentaries and wildlife shows.
Because Disney+ aims to provide something for everyone, they offer the option of adding Hulu and ESPN.
Bundles and pricing plans
Each Disney Plus subscriber enjoys four simultaneous streams from their account. For a small surcharge, Disney+ will grant you access to one or two extra streaming services. Here’s what you should expect from their bundles and pricing plans:
- Disney offers an ad-based plan for $8
- You could also bundle Disney+ and Hulu for $10. This plan also includes ads to keep the costs low
- For $13, you get Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN +
The add-ons deliver value for money by providing enough variety to entertain a multi-person household. To discover gems that match your viewing preferences, tweak the app’s content recommendation to your liking.
Hulu is the home of critically acclaimed content like The Handmaid’s Tale. The service also carries select shows from FX, Fox, ABC, and other TV networks. These networks have an agreement where individual episodes become available on Hulu soon after they air on the network.
Price plan, live TV, and bundles
Subscribers pay a monthly fee of $10 for an ad-supported plan and $16 for an ad-free plan. For $70 a month, cord-cutters can subscribe to the Hulu live TV service. A $13 bundle gives you access to a combination of Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN.
This is a hybrid streaming service that offers some live content in addition to an on-demand catalog. Paramount+ offers live news channels and it shows some live sports events. The service also has a live channel that showcases curated content.
On-demand TV shows feature classics that include shows from the Star Trek universe. You also get a large selection of TV shows from CBS, MTV, BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and Paramount Network. Lastly, you get a large back-catalog of movies from Paramount Pictures.
Pricing plans and bundles
Paramount Plus is one of the more affordable streaming services in the market. The ad-supported tier goes for $5, while the ad-free plan goes for $10. For $12, you can bundle Showtime and Paramount+ to expand the amount of content that you can access.
6. Prime Video
Amazon’s streaming service offers a collection of shows with a large and loyal following. The platform offers intense series like Bosch, The Expanse, and The Man In the High Castle. It also hosts popular titles like Jack Ryan and Mr. Robot.
Prime Video is available across most devices and smart TV platforms. However, you have to dive deep into the app to find hidden gems. This requires some legwork on your part, but the effort is worth it.
Pricing and bundles
Amazon offers Prime Video as one of many perks that come with subscribing to Amazon Prime. Prime Video is also available as a standalone service, for a monthly fee of $9.
You can subscribe to other streaming services through your prime video subscription. This option offers little in the way of discounts, but you get to combine your streaming payments into a single transaction.
This service from NBC is now the exclusive streaming platform for the network’s newest TV shows. Peacock also offers a selection of live sporting events, including Sunday night NFL games. Interested subscribers can browse through a large cache of Hallmark content.
You would need a premium plan to watch all episodes of a TV series. This paywall model can be a turn-off, especially when you remember that the premium tier still has ads.
The best streaming services have something for everyone
If you’re paying a flat fee every month, you should make the most out of your subscription. So go ahead and choose streaming services that can cater to your mood, whims, friends, and household.