Guide to Streaming Video Services

Here are the best sources for movies and TV series

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We may not be spending quite as much time at home these days, but more of us are still cutting the cord and relying on streaming services instead. But beyond the Big Three—Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Netflix—which ones to choose?

If you haven’t researched what other streaming services are available lately, you may be surprised by the abundance of options. There are now dozens of other services, including Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount+ (formerly CBS All Access), and Peacock (from NBCUniversal).

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

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Many of the services offer free trial periods, though not all. If you go that route, be sure to cancel before the clock runs out; charges start automatically once free trials are over.

Other streaming services are just plain free.

And there’s no reason to stream alone. Many services, including Amazon, Disney+, Hulu, and Sling TV, now offer “watch party” features that let you watch movies and shows in sync with friends and family while messaging back and forth in a chat window. Teleparty—formerly called Netflix Party—is a Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge browser extension that will synchronize video playback and add group chat to Disney, HBO, Hulu, and Netflix.

If you don’t want to sign up for a new monthly service, even on a trial basis, you can rent or 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 selecting 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.

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We investigate, research, and test so you can choose with confidence.