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Bright Ideas · Saving Money · Which Streaming Services Are Actually Worth Your Money?
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Which Streaming Services Are Actually Worth Your Money?

Overwhelmed by all the options for streaming shows and movies? My simple guide to streaming services can help!

Having options when it comes to streaming isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there are so many streaming services today that it can be hard to keep track! But regardless of whether you’ve ditched cable or satellite service in favor of streaming, or you still hang on to your cable or satellite for live TV, one thing is for certain—online streaming services aren’t going anywhere!

In fact, new streaming services are cropping up all the time—and that’s on top of the continuous flow of TV shows and movies in and out of existing streaming platforms! It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin, but I hope that today’s blog post will help straighten things out for all of us. 🙂

Because the world of streaming services is growing more complex all the time, I decided to do some research and put together who’s-who guide to the top streaming services. I looked into pricing, content offerings, account options, and other relevant factors, and used what I learned to come up with a Top 5 list of streaming services that are worth paying for.

(Note: Just to clarify, I don’t mean to suggest that everyone should subscribe to all of these services. My goal was to highlight options that can provide a good value for what they cost, but whether or not a particular service is worth it to you is, well… up to you!)

New to streaming? Check out this guide to learn more about how it all works, and to learn how to get started streaming shows and movies to your TV.

The Top 5 Streaming Services That Are Worth Paying For

1. Netflix

Netflix is the gold standard in streaming, as well as a must-have in my book. It dominated the Emmys last year with original shows like Ozark, Stranger Things, and The Crown, receiving a record 160 nominations (53 more than HBO!) I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar sweep at this year’s Emmys due to new favorites like The Queen’s Gambit!

While Netflix has lost a handful of good programs over the past year including The Office and Friends, they still have plenty of old (Gilmore Girls) and new (Schitt’s Creek) shows to watch and re-watch. For romantic comedy buffs life myself, Netflix offers favorites like Legally Blonde and My Best Friend’s Wedding, plus cult classics like Monty Python and the Holy Grail. There’s already something for everyone on Netflix, and you can look forward to new shows and movies throughout the year.

How Much Does It Cost?

A basic Netflix subscription will cost you $8.99/month. The next tier, which costs $13.99/month, allows you to watch on two screens instead of one and supports HD viewing. Finally, their premium subscription will cost you $17.99/month, but you’ll be able to watch on up to four screens in Ultra HD.

And as for ads, Netflix doesn’t show any—regardless of which subscription you have!

Visit Netflix.com to learn more.

2. Hulu

Hulu is a great supplement to Netflix, especially since their cheapest subscription tier only costs $6/month (if you’re willing to watch ads, that is). It has a number of its own original shows like the critically acclaimed Handmaid’s Tale, as well as a large collection of programs from cable networks like ABC, Fox, and NBC.

On the subject of network programming, Hulu has an added benefit for fans of must-see reality shows like The Bachelor and Survivor. Unlike Netflix, which generally adds an entire season of a show well after it has finished airing, Hulu uploads new episodes of many network shows mere hours after they air on TV.

How Much Does It Cost?

As I mentioned previously, you can get a Hulu subscription for just $5.99/month if you’re willing to put up with ads, or you can pay $11.99/month for ad-free streaming. Hulu also has a subscription option that includes over 65 channels of live TV along with access to their streaming library, which goes for $64.99/month (or $70.99/month with no ads).

You can also take advantage of packages that bundle other services into your subscription, such as the popular Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ bundle for $13.99/month. And for those premium cable channels you just can’t give up, you can add channels like Starz (+$8.99/month) and HBO Max (+$14.99/month) to your Hulu subscription too.

Visit Hulu.com to learn more.

3. Prime Video

As an Amazon Prime member it’s easy to overlook some of the things that are included with your $119/year membership, because it includes a lot! You already know about free 2-day shipping and free returns, but fewer people are aware that Prime members also have access to Amazon’s streaming service Prime Video.

Like Netflix and Hulu, Prime Video has its own selection of original shows, including the hilarious The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and superhero hit The Boys, in addition to binge-worthy favorites like How I Met Your Mother. Along with these free programming options, you also have the option to rent or purchase certain movies that aren’t available to watch elsewhere.

If you have an Amazon Prime account and aren’t already taking advantage of Prime Video, what are you waiting for? 🙂 Download the Prime Video app (or visit the Prime Video site on desktop) to start perusing.

How Much Does It Cost?

Prime Video is included in the $119/year price for an Amazon Prime membership, and streaming is always ad-free. (Non-members can give Prime Video a try with a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, or subscribe to Prime Video separately for $8.99/month.)

Like Hulu, Prime Video also provides options to bundle different channels and services. Get Paramount+ for an extra $5.99/month, Starz for $8.99/month, Showtime for $10.99/month, BBC Select $4.99/month, and more.

Visit Amazon.com to learn more.

4. Disney+

Considering how much the Nystul clan loves all things Star Wars and Marvel, a Disney+ subscription is a no-brainer for us. Launched back in November of 2019, Disney+ is still relatively new to the scene, but it’s already hot on the heels of giants like Netflix for good reason!

Disney+ is the only streaming platform that includes not only the entire catalog of Disney movies, but movies and shows from the massively popular Star Wars and Marvel franchises too. Like other services, Disney+ has original content like their popular Star Wars series The Mandalorian, and they also carry documentaries like the award-winning Free Solo and titles from National Geographic.

If you love a good family-friendly movie night, or if you’re a diehard Star Wars or Marvel fan, you’re certain to get your money’s worth from Disney+ (and then some!)

How Much Does It Cost?

A Disney+ subscription is a surprisingly good deal at just $7.99/month, and that includes 4K Ultra HD resolution, streaming on four devices, and no ads. And if you’re willing to commit to Disney+ for a while (and you’ll have more than enough to keep you busy if you do), you can save around $16 by paying the $79.99 annual cost upfront.

Visit DisneyPlus.com to learn more.

5. HBO Max

HBO has a long-standing reputation for its high-quality and award-winning shows, and you can find them all on its streaming service HBO Max. Comedy fans will appreciate critically acclaimed shows like Veep and Curb Your Enthusiasm, and who among us doesn’t love Friends?

If dramas are more your style, series like Big Little Lies and Game of Thrones are sure to keep you hooked, or you can dive into classics from Turner Classic Movies. Sci-fi fans also have plenty to enjoy, from the buzzy HBO series Westworld to DC movies like Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and more.

And speaking of movies, HBO Max has been making waves this year for being the source for streaming new Warner Bros. releases on the same day as they debuted in theaters. And with upcoming films like Dune and Space Jam: A New Legacy also slated for same-day premieres on HBO Max, it’s not a bad time to jump on board!

How Much Does It Cost?

HBO Max keeps it simple by offering one plan for $14.99/month. You can stream ad-free on up to three screens at once in HD quality (and 4K, in some cases), and add up to five different user profiles.

Visit HBOMax.com to learn more.

The Takeaway

While this is far from a comprehensive list of today’s streaming services, these five are among the largest and most popular for a reason! If you’ve been trying to figure out which ones are right for you, I hope this overview has given you a better idea of which services might give you the most bang for your buck.

Looking for a new show to watch? Check out some of my favorite binge-worthy shows on various streaming services in these posts:

What are your favorite streaming services?

  • I may receive compensation when you click through and purchase from links contained on this website. I always offer my own genuine recommendation. Learn more.


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