Guide to Streaming Video Services

Here are the best sources for movies and TV series

Person with a remote in their hand watching TV Photo: iStock

Compared with a year ago, we might 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, including Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV, offer live TV channels, just like cable TV; others, such as Acorn and BritBox, provide niche movies and television series.

more on streaming

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 shows alone, even if there’s no one else in the living room with you. 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 Max, 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, Redbox, or Vudu, which recently bought FandangoNow.

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.

Become a member to read the full article and get access to digital ratings.

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