A few years ago, if you were thinking of signing up for a streaming service, there were only a few major options to choose from. Now, there are dozens. And these streaming services are home to some of the most talked-about new shows on TV—as well as some old favorites and genre-specific programming.
The real question is which service (or services) should you sign up for? It all depends on what type of shows you like to watch. You should also consider whether you want access to a massive library of content, or a smaller collection geared toward families, movie buffs, or specific genres. So here’s our guide to streaming services for a whole range of TV- and movie-watching preferences.
The Best Streaming Service for Original Programming: Netflix
Few streaming platforms can compete with Netflix because of the sheer size of its library. Netflix really does offer plenty of content for viewers of all ages and interests. While some shows come and go based on licensing deals, it’s always adding new material, including high-quality original programming. Recent highlights include Stranger Things and Black Mirror.
Netflix is also known for its international programming, with shows getting rave reviews from critics like:
- Dark (Germany)
- Money Heist (Spain)
- 3% (Brazil)
Fans of reality TV and documentaries will also find a lot to choose from on Netflix.
Best Streaming Service for TV Series: Hulu
If you’re looking to replace your cable subscription with a streaming service, Hulu should be on your shortlist. It features original programming like A Handmaid’s Tale, as well as joint ventures like Mrs. America, which also aired on FX.
Hulu releases episodes of new, original programming weekly, so you’ll have to wait to build up your library of a certain show if you want to binge-watch it in one sitting.
You’ll also find comedy classics like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Community, as well as more recent shows that have got rave reviews from audiences and critics like Shrill and Little Fires Everywhere.
Best Streaming Service for Movies & Prestige TV: HBO Max
HBO Max is one of several streaming platforms HBO offers. It includes most of the channel’s premium content, as well as an entire library of movies and TV shows. HBO Max features classic TV shows like South Park and The Big Bang Theory. But it also has a great library of popular recent hits like:
- Game of Thrones
You’ll also get news shows like Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, exclusive musical performances like David Byrne’s American Utopia, and classic movies like the Studio Ghibli collection. In short, HBO Max is made for movie buffs and fans of prestige TV.
Best Streaming Service for Kids and Families: Disney+
Disney+ is the go-to streaming platform for kids and families, since you’ll get access to most of Disney’s library all in one place. Disney+ is packed not just with the animated classics, but recent properties like Star Wars and its spin-off series, The Mandalorian.
Adults can also enjoy the Marvel collection, the Hamilton musical, and Beyoncé’s Lion King adaptation, making this a good streaming service for Diney fans of all ages.
Best Streaming Service for Comedy: Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video is included with Amazon Prime subscriptions and also allows you to rent individual movies. Its original shows include:
- The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
- The Boys
But what really sets it apart is its massive content library. Because of Amazon’s extensive licensing deals, you’ll be able to watch some of your favorite HBO shows, as well as programming from Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. This makes Amazon Prime Video well worth considering for comedy lovers and families alike.
Best Streaming Service for Cult Classics: Tubi
Monthly subscriptions can add up, so if you’re looking for a streaming service that won’t cost a thing, Tubi may be a good option. It doesn’t offer any original content, but it has a large collection of mainstream fare, including action, comedy, and sci-fi. This is a place to enjoy cult classics like Donnie Darko rather than the latest new releases.
Since it’s ad-supported, Tubi is entirely free. It claims to have more than 50,000 titles due to partnerships with Starz, MGM, and Paramount.
Best Streaming Service for Sports and Live TV: Sling TV
Sling TV is your best bet if you want to replace cable but still want access to live TV, including ESPN and other sports programming. You can’t download shows to watch offline, but you can get a cloud DVR add-on for an additional $5 per month.
Some specialty sports channels you can watch on Sling TV with the Sports Extra package include:
- NFL Red Zone
- MLB Network
- NBA TV
- Olympic Channel
- PAC 12 Network
You won’t get much of a back catalog of though; it’s essentially a cheaper alternative to cable.
Best Streaming Service for Horror Fans: Shudder
Massive libraries aren’t everything and sometimes you want a streaming service that has a more specific, curated collection. That’s where Shudder comes in. Shudder is a niche streaming service developed by AMC that’s made with horror fans in mind.
It includes classics like Halloween, as well as original programming and even podcasts. While it doesn’t have as much variety as Hulu and Netflix, you won’t be stuck scrolling through your library every night trying to settle on a genre.
These are just a few of the best streaming services out there. We didn’t include every possible option, because they don’t all stand out from the crowd, but we think these eight provide a good cross-selection of content to choose from.