Guide to Streaming Video Services

Stuck at home social distancing? Use this info to find the best sources for movies and your favorite TV series.

A woman watches a streaming video service.

People who are hunkered down at home to limit the spread of the coronavirus may be looking for more options for streaming video. It turns out that many months into a pandemic, you can actually binge your way through everything worth watching on Amazon Prime.

If you haven’t researched what other streaming services are available recently, you may be surprised by the abundance of choices. Giants such as Hulu, Netflix, and Prime have been joined by dozens of other services, such as Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock (from NBCUniversal), and Quibi.

Some services, such as Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV, offer live TV channels just like cable TV, while many others, such as Acorn and BritBox, provide niche movies and television series.

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Almost all the streaming video services offer free trial periods, and a number of companies have extended these in 2020. Just make sure to cancel if you don’t want to continue with a service; charges start automatically once free trials are over. 

A bunch of other streaming services are just plain free.

This is also a good time for Netflix customers to check out the company’s Netflix Party extension for the Chrome browser. It allows you to watch movies in sync with friends and families stuck in their own homes, while messaging back and forth in a chat window. 

If you don’t want to sign up for any additional monthly service, even on a trial basis, you can buy one movie at a time through a pay-per-view service such as Amazon Video, FandangoNow, or Vudu. 

This guide to the major video streaming and pay-per-view services should help you sort through the many choices. (We have advice on choosing a smart TV or a streaming media device, too.) 

We’ll be adding new services, new pricing, and updates to content lineups as they emerge, so keep checking back.  

Acorn TV

Price: $6 per month or $60 per year.

Who it’s best for: Lovers of British TV fare. Goodies include TV dramas (“A Place to Call Home”), mysteries (“Agatha Raisin”), and comedies.

Latest news: Acorn TV is now available on the cable-style YouTube TV service (see below). It’s also on Comcast’s Xfinity X1 cable box, accessible via Xfinity on Demand, and on the go via the Xfinity Stream app.

Also, the service just acquired the new four-part British drama series “Deadwater Fell,” which stars David Tennant (“Dr. Who”) and Cush Jumbo (“The Good Wife”).

AMC, Acorn TV’s parent company, says the service now has more than 1 million subscribers. Among the exclusives on the service are true-crime drama “Manhunt” and “Jack Irish,” an Aussie noir thriller starring Guy Pearce. Also in the mix: “The Witness for the Prosecution,” an original Agatha Christie movie with Kim Cattrall.

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