Best Video Streaming Service: YouTube TV vs DIRECTV Now vs Hulu vs Netflix vs HBO Now vs Amazon vs Sling TV

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You can watch practically anything cable and satellite TV offer without paying the high monthly price thanks to video streaming.

Video streaming can be treated as an a la carte subscription by signing up for as many services as you want. Are you a die-hard fan of The Handmaid’s Tale? Sign up for Hulu. Love Stranger Things? Get a Netflix subscription. Always quoting Game of Thrones? An HBO Now membership is perfect for you.

Learn more about each video streaming service so you can get started with a reduced price vs. cable/satellite TV.

Best Live Streaming TV Service: YouTube TV Review

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YouTube TV gives you access to live TV, and you can record TV to watch it later. I have YouTube TV and love that I can schedule recordings and watch my favorite shows and movies later. My husband loves that he can watch a lot of his sports teams play.

One of its best features is the unlimited Cloud DVR storage, so you can record as many shows, movies and games as you wish. You can also add-on TV channels to your subscription to have access to more television.

It has more than 70 channels available at its base price of $40 per month. Unfortunately, it isn’t available in every U.S. city, so you’ll need to check your zip code before signing up. YouTube TV requires the following download speeds:

  • 13mbps+ to reliably stream HD video and have other devices use the same network
  • 7mbps+ to stream one HD video
  • 3mbps+ to stream SD video
  • Under 3mbps you may experience buffering and slow loading

Pros

Cons

  • Access to live TV including sports, primetime TV shows, movies and breaking news
  • Watch on phone, tablet, computer, game consoles and smart televisions
  • Includes 70+ channels depending on your add-ons
  • Add on interest specific channels for an extra monthly fee
  • 6 accounts per household (up to 3 simultaneous streams)
  • Personalized DVR with no storage limits
  • Not available in every U.S. city (and only available in the U.S.)

Price

Optional add-ons:

  • AMC Premiere: $5/month
  • Curiosity Stream: $3/month
  • FOX Soccer Plus: $15/month
  • NBA League Pass: $40/month
  • Showtime: $11/month
  • Shudder: $5/month
  • STARZ: $9/month
  • Sundance Now: $7/month

Best Streaming Movie Service: Netflix Review

Netflix

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Netflix is great for movie enthusiasts because it has a wide variety of new, old, foreign, indie and original videos to watch. It also has a massive library of television shows that have ended, so you can binge watch an entire TV show in a weekend.

You can create different accounts for one login, so multiple family members can use it. There’s an entire section dedicated to children’s movies and TV shows too. The recommended bandwidth is 500kbps to get maximum results.

Pros

Cons

  • Netflix for Kids
  • Premium account allows up to 4 screens to watch at the same time on 1 account
  • Full TV series
  • Old and new movies
  • Award-winning original content like Orange Is The New Black and Making a Murderer
  • Lots of foreign films
  • No advertisements while watching content
  • Watch on smart TVs, smartphones, tablets, computers, media streaming devices and gaming consoles
  • Live and current TV shows aren’t available

Price

  • 1-month FREE trial
  • Basic: $7.99/month
  • Standard (2 screens): $10.99/month
  • Premium (4 screens): $13.99/month

Best Streaming Service For TV Shows: Hulu Review

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Hulu offers TV shows as well as older films. New TV episodes are posted the day after it airs, so you can keep up on your favorite big name shows. Its focus is more on what’s currently popular on prime time TV. Episodes “expire” so you won’t always be able to watch them. If you want to stay up to date on current TV shows, then Hulu is the way to go.

It also has a few original series, like The Handmaid’s Tale, and we expect it will continue to add to its lineup in the coming years. For SD, you’ll need a bandwidth of 1.5mbps, and for HD you’ll need 3mbps. Hulu also offers the option to watch television live through Hulu with live TV.

Pros

Cons

  • New shows are typically put online the day after they air
  • Easy way to catch up on current TV shows
  • Commercial-free option
  • Large anime, art-house film and international offerings
  • Watch on smart TVs, smartphones, tablets, computers, media streaming devices and gaming consoles
  • No Commercials plan is not completely ad-free (due to some broadcasters’ preferences)
  • Mainly old or independent films, which could be a pro if that’s what you like

Price

  • 1-month FREE trial
  • Hulu: $5.99/month for the first year, then $7.99/month
  • Hulu with No Commercials: $11.99/month
  • Hulu with Live TV: starts at $39.99/month (Free trial is only 7 days)

Optional add-ons:

  • Enhanced Cloud DVR: $14.99/month
  • Unlimited Screens: $14.99/month
  • SHOWTIME: $8.99/month
  • HBO: $14.99/month
  • Cinemax: $9.99/month
  • STARZ: $8.99/month
  • Entertainment Add-on: $7.99/month
  • Español Add-on: $4.99/month

Other Video Streaming Services Reviews

Amazon Prime | Crackle | DIRECTV NOW | FuboTVHBO GO | HBO NOW | PlayStation Vue| Sling TVVudu

Amazon Prime Review

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Amazon Prime isn’t just a video streaming service. In addition to blockbuster films and popular TV shows, you also have access to more than 1 million songs and more than 500,000 free ebooks as well as 2-day free shipping on amazon.com purchases. (Note: Not all items on Amazon are eligible for Prime shipping. The Prime logo must be marked next to videos, books and other items.)

With Amazon Prime, you get a lot of things at the same price as other video streaming services. So if you are a frequent shopper (or reader), this may be a good choice for you because it has tons of benefits.

Amazon is best for watching newer releases that you can rent at a low price. Often you can watch movies at home for a lower price than what it costs in theaters.

Amazon also won several Golden Globe awards for its original series “Transparent.” Minimum internet bandwidth requirements are 900kbps for SD and 3.5mbps for HD.

Pros

Cons

  • 40,000 movies and TV shows
  • Watch on Fire HD, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, game consoles, smart TVs, smartphones and more
  • Golden Globe-winning original series: “Transparent”
  • Unlimited photo and music storage
  • Access to movies, music and Kindle books
  • Free 2-day shipping from Amazon for you and anyone else with an Amazon account at your address
  • Only available in the U.S.
  • Bad for local retailers because you’ll buy things from Amazon more than the local shops

Price

Learn More About Amazon Prime

Sony Crackle Review

Crackle

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Sony owns Crackle and consists mainly of Sony movies and TV shows, although it does offer content from other film distributors. It also provides original productions like Trenches and The Bannen Way.

The most significant benefit of using Crackle is that it’s completely free; however, with the lower selection, it may be hard to find the content you want to watch. Your internet connection speed should be 200kbps or more if you plan to use Crackle.

Pros

Cons

  • FREE
  • Don’t have to create an account
  • Available in the U.S.A. and Canada
  • Doesn’t have the newest movies and TV shows
  • Tons of advertisements on the site and while content is playing
  • Small selection (about 250 movies and 50 TV shows)
  • No HD

Price

  • Free

DIRECTV NOW Review

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DIRECTV NOW is set up similarly to DIRECTV and DISH but is slightly less expensive. To get channels that you may want, you may have to get the upper tier package, which doesn’t come cheap.

DIRECTV NOW has some a la carte options, but they’re only for individual premium channels. Ultimately, there are less expensive options for your TV streaming needs.

Pros

Cons

  • 65+ live channels depending on the plan you choose
  • Cloud DVR is in the Beta stages
  • 2 simultaneous streams
  • Can get as expensive as cable/satellite TV

Price

  • 7-day FREE trial
  • Live A Little: $40/month, 65+ channels
  • Just Right: $55/month, 85+ channels
  • Go Big: $65/month, 105+ channels
  • Gotta Have It: $75/month, 125+ channels
  • Todo Y Más: $45/month, 90+ channels
  • Vietnamese: $20/month, 9 channels
  • Brazilian: $25/month, 2 channels
  • HBO: $5/month
  • Cinemax: $5/month
  • STARZ: $8/month
  • Showtime: $8/month
  • Third streaming option: $5/month

FuboTV

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FuboTV is for those who want to watch international sports like soccer and cycling. You can stream local, minor, major and world league teams live or recorded. If you’re interested in family channels, children channels, news channels, etc., we’d recommend another service over FuboTV.

Pros

Cons

  • 100+ live channels
  • Simple interface
  • 30 hours of Cloud DVR storage (more for higher plans)
  • Watch on smartphone, tablet, media streaming devices and computer
  • Can become expensive if you want add-ons

Price

  • 7-day FREE trial (fubo plan only)
  • fubo: $44.99/month
  • fubo Extra: $49.99/month
  • fubo Extra Bundle (fubo Extra, Cloud DVR Plus, Family Share, Showtime): $59.99/month

Optional add-ons:

  • Cloud DVR Plus (500 hours): $9.99/month
  • Family Share (3 people streaming at once): $5.99/month
  • SHOWTIME: $10/month
  • NBA League Pass: $28.99/month
  • AMC Premiere: $4.99/month
  • FX+ Ad Free: $5.99/month
  • fubo Cycling: $11.99/month
  • International Sports Plus: $5.99/month
  • Sport Plus: $8.99/month
  • Adventure Plus: $4.99/month
  • RAI Italia: $7.99/month
  • Portuguese Plus: $14.99/month
  • Latino Plus: $7.99/month

HBO NOW Review

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Like the other services reviewed here, you do not need cable to subscribe to HBO NOW. An HBO NOW subscription includes a variety of content including original series, comedy specials, sports, blockbuster movies, documentaries and more. Every season of popular award-winning HBO programs is available at the same time it airs on “regular” HBO, including Game of Thrones, Westworld, Silicon Valley, Veep, Barry, Big Little Lies, Insecure, and more.

Pros

Cons

  • Includes every episode of every season of HBO’s award-winning original programs
  • Includes some Hollywood blockbusters
  • Programming is available at the same time it premiers
  • 3 simultaneous streams available
  • Watch on smartphone, computer, tablet, media streaming device and smart TV
  • No offline viewing

Price

HBO GO Review

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If you have HBO via your cable or satellite provider (or subscribe to HBO NOW on its own), you can use HBO GO to gain unlimited access to HBO movies and shows. HBO shows are released on HBO GO the moment they air. This video streaming service requires a 3mbps connection for HD content.

Pros

Cons

  • Create custom “watch lists” to save content for later or get a “season pass” and be notified when new episodes are ready
  • TV shows are released when they air
  • Known for their original series and documentaries
  • Watch on smartphone, computer, tablet, media streaming device and smart TV
  • Must have cable
  • Limited number of users can access at once
  • Everything is HBO content except for movies
  • Some content expires (usually a 4-8 week watching window)

Price

  • Free with HBO subscription

PlayStation Vue Review

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PlayStation Vue is live streaming TV, and a PlayStation isn’t required to watch it. If you choose one of the upper-level packages with some add-ons, you could be spending a similar amount that you would with cable/satellite TV. So, it may be better to look at other options.

Pros

Cons

  • Popular channels offered
  • 100+ channels (depending on the plan and add-ons)
  • Available without a PlayStation (Roku, Amazon Fire TV, iOS, Android, PS3, PS4)
  • DVR stores unlimited episodes for 28 days
  • Stream up to 5 devices at once
  • Expensive

Price

  • 5-day free trial (for Access, Core and Elite)
  • Access: $44.99/month
    • Popular live TV
  • Core: $49.99/month
    • Sports + popular live TV
  • Elite: $59.99/month
    • Movies + kids + sports + popular live TV
  • Ultra: $79.99/month
    • Movies + sports + premiums
  • View all plans

Optional add-ons:

  • Sports Pack: $10/month
  • FX+: $5.99/month
  • Epix Hits: $3.99/month
  • HBO: $15/month
  • Showtime: $10.99/month
  • Cinemax: $15/month
  • HBO & Cinemax: $21.99/month
  • Epix Hits & Showtime: $13.99/month
  • FOX Soccer Plus: $14.99/month

Sling TV Review

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Sling TV is a good backup option if YouTube TV isn’t available in your area yet. This was one of the first companies to offer a live TV watching alternative. We like that the base price for Sling TV is $25 and you can customize your TV options by adding packages at relatively low costs.

Pros

Cons

  • Access to live TV including sports, prime-time TV shows, movies and breaking news
  • Watch on phone, tablet, computer, game consoles and smart televisions
  • Includes 30+ channels depending on your add-ons
  • Add on interest-specific packages for an extra $5 to $10 per month
  • Owned by DISH, so you’re still giving your money to a big network (this may be a non-issue for some)

Price

  • 7-day FREE trial
  • Sling Orange: $25/month for 32 channels
  • Sling Blue: $25/month for 45 channels
  • Sling Orange + Sling Blue: $40/month for 51 channels

Optional add-ons:

  • Cloud DVR: $5/month
  • Kids: $5/month
  • Sports: $5/month (with Sling Orange) or $10/month (with Sling Blue)
  • News: $5/month
  • Lifestyle: $5/month
  • Hollywood: $5/month
  • Heartland: $5/month
  • International: starting at $5/month
  • Español: $5/month
  • Comedy: $5/month
  • Many other add-ons available

Vudu Review

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Vudu is similar to iTunes rentals. Instead of paying for a subscription you pay per rental/purchase. You can rent or buy movies in SD or HD. Walmart owns Vudu and it may be clicking in your head right now because when you purchase a DVD or Blu-ray, you sometimes get a digital copy. You can download your digital copy onto Vudu, so you have access to it digitally.

The price can go up quickly because if you like to watch lots of movies you have to pay for each rental or purchase, so two Vudu rentals can add up to a month subscription to Netflix. For HD streaming, 3mbps is required, and for SD streaming 1mbps is needed.

Pros

Cons

  • No subscription needed
  • Download your digital copies to Vudu’s platform
  • Offers TV shows and movies
  • U.S. only
  • If you watch a lot of movies, it is more expensive than some other services

Price

  • Vudu’s pricing is a “pay as you rent/buy” model. So the price varies depending on how much you buy.

What Is The Best Video Streaming Service Terminology?

Below are some terms you’ll want to familiarize yourself with regarding bandwidth speeds and screen resolutions:

  • HD – HD means High Definition or the pixelation the video uses to display (720 or 1080 pixels per line). More pixels means a higher quality picture. HD is preferred over SD.
  • SD – SD means Standard Definition, which is video displayed at 480 pixels per line. HD offers better image quality than SD because the total number of pixels displayed is higher.
  • KBPS – KBPS stands for kilobits per second. The higher the number, the faster the speed.
  • MBPS – MBPS stands for megabits per second. 1mbps = 1000kbps, therefore 1mbps is larger than 1kbps.

Best Streaming Media Players

An easy way to watch your video through your streaming service is on a media streaming player. Some popular ones you may have heard of include Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast. Devices like these integrate with services like Netflix, Hulu and more so you can watch your video on your TV instead of always watching on a smaller screen like a tablet or computer. Check out our article on the best streaming media players and find out their pros, cons, pricing and what you can watch on them.

Which streaming media service do you like most and why?

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Disclaimer: This website contains reviews, opinions and information regarding products and services manufactured or provided by third parties. We are not responsible in any way for such products and services, and nothing contained here should be construed as a guarantee of the functionality, utility, safety or reliability of any product or services reviewed or discussed. Please follow the directions provided by the manufacturer or service provider when using any product or service reviewed or discussed on this website.

Kimberly researches everything before she buys. She wants to make sure she is getting the best bang for her buck by purchasing the best product/service, which is why she loves her work. She has a degree in Multimedia Journalism and has been researching and writing professionally since 2013 to help consumers make more educated decisions.

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Chick1970
Do all of these have the ability to be downloaded and watched offline?
Marie Ferraz
A few quick questions from someone not very technologically inclined:
1. What do you use to stream these services – Roku? Is that a totally separate discussion?
2. Can you still use a DVR or Tivo with any of these services?
3. Do any of these services allow you to fast forward through ads?
Cat Larkin
The one thing these articles leave out is that, for most of us, we are still tied to Comcast or Verizon for our internet (at least on east coast). they make their base internet too slow for streaming, and the next jump up is only $20 cheaper than that with basic TV. Like Comcast is currently around $75 for decent internet speeds, THEN you are buying all of these other streaming options on top of that. their step up from basic TV plus fast internet is like $95. That said – this is a very useful article – would love to see update as too improvements on Sling TV options. Thanks
Tamara Liggins
Do an update on the differences now. I think Sling Blue (beta multistream) and PS Vue (available in more cities, live TV and sport) are now the best contenders since you also get TV Everywhere access it comes in handy for those that use mostly Apple products. For PS Vue, invest in a used PS3 or PS4, the savings will outweigh. You only need it for activation or if a localization update is needed. I have Sling, PS Vue and Amazon Prime (have the card so the 5% and free shipping outweigh the video content for me) I cut the cord a year ago and only kept the cable internet.
Nancy Diane Fuller
You don’t need a Playstation player to use Playstation VUe. I use a Firestick on one TV and Roku on another and both are compatible.
jim ledford
Hulu, lol, Netflix, #1
Shaw Wakefield
Thanks for sharing Kimberly! I love Hulu especially because I can watch the latest episodes 1 day after they air. If you live outside USA like me, you can use UnoTelly or other similar tools to access Hulu Plus overseas.
notsofastnow
These are spurious comparisons — each streaming service offers different things. I subscribe to Hulu for the Criterion Collection and library of drive in movie science fiction. I subscribe to Netflix for more mainstream fare. And I’m a member of Amazon Prime for the shipping. Video is a bonus. I subscribe to Sling mainly to have access to sports. Since I cut the cable, I consider these costs minor after having to swallow a $165 a month Comcast bill.
Ruben Martinez
Hi, I’d like to ask if you are able to watch pro sports? MLB, NFL & NBA as I am looking to cut the cable. Thanks.
Tricksforums
Awesome article.