The best Streaming services have become the cornerstone of entertainment, offering an unprecedented selection of movies, TV shows, documentaries, and much more right at our fingertips.
The days of scheduling your life around television broadcasts or making trips to the video store are no more… because with just a few clicks, you can access a world of content (almost instantly) from the comfort of your own home.
Important: The streaming service you choose must be compatible with your streaming device ( See the Comparison Charts & Table)
The proliferation of streaming platforms has not only transformed how we consume media but also how media is produced and distributed. Lets get right into the realm of the top streaming apps, this guide aims to shed light on the top platforms/services, popular fan favorites, and even some survey results from our users at Mediapeanut.
Top Picks – At a glance
- YouTube TV
- Max (formerly HBO Max)
- Amazon Prime Video
- Disney Plus
- Sling TV
- Apple TV Plus
- ESPN Plus
- Paramount Plus
- Top Picks – At a glance
- Top 15 Streaming Services Reviewed
- How we Ranked & Chose the top streaming apps
- The Future of Streaming Services
Quick look at Key strengths and weaknesses of each streaming service
|Extensive variety of content
|High subscription cost
|Ideal for family-friendly content
|Limited appeal beyond Disney/Marvel/Star Wars
|Max (formerly HBO Max)
|Premium content including HBO library
|More expensive, especially for ad-free options
|Current TV shows available soon after airing
|Inconsistent selections from older TV seasons
|Amazon Prime Video
|Included with Amazon Prime membership
|Confusing interface with mixed free and paid content
|Affordable with a mix of current and classic shows
|Originals still need improvement
|Apple TV Plus
|Strong original programming
|Limited content library compared to others
|One of the best for live sports and international channels
|More expensive than most competitors
|Wide range of content from CBS, MTV, Nickelodeon
|Few standout originals
|Cheaper live TV option, good for sports
|Limited local channel coverage
|Good for early access to movies and original series
|Playback issues on some devices
|Great for NHL, UFC, and other live sports
|Does not include live NFL or NBA games
|Large content library with live sports
|Ad-supported despite being a paid tier
|Paramount Plus Premium
|Combines CBS and Showtime content
|Limited 4K HDR content available
Top 15 Streaming Services Reviewed
When it comes to the best streaming services, Netflix is higher cost, but theres also great options HBO, Max, YouTube TV, sling TV, Fubo and more.
Below are our top picks for March, 2024 . Let’s check them out…
No surprise here – Netflix, the pioneer of streaming services, has become synonymous with on-demand entertainment. With an expansive library that includes critically acclaimed original series, blockbuster movies, documentaries, and stand-up specials, Netflix has something for every type of viewer.
It [Netlfix] has almost become an essential streaming service to have… but it is missing a lot [content] and the consistent change in price structure can be irritating for the average user.Paul Michael, founder of mediapeanut.com
Keep in mind, Netflix’s pricing plans have evolved to reflect its rich content offering, making it a bit more expensive than some competitors. However, its user-friendly interface, personalized recommendations, international content, and multi-device compatibility offer significant value, justifying the cost for many subscribers.
Side note: Netflix’s investment in international content has broadened its appeal, making it a global entertainment hub.
2. YouTube TV
YouTube TV offers a comprehensive live TV streaming service designed to replace traditional cable subscriptions. With access to over 85 channels, including major broadcast and cable networks, YouTube TV caters to a wide range of interests, from sports and news to entertainment and kids’ programming.
A big advantage of YouTube TV is 1. It’s user interface and 2. its unlimited cloud DVR storage, allowing subscribers to record and store their favorite shows.
Is your device compatible? See the 7 Best Streaming Devices for Watching YouTube TV
I found that YouTube TV’s integration with Google services and devices enhanced my experience (It has have features like voice control and seamless streaming on devices like the Roku Ultra & Roku Ultra lt)
Keep in mind, YouTube TV’s pricing is on par with traditional cable services, making it one of the more expensive streaming options. However, its broad channel lineup, user-friendly interface, and flexibility in terms of no long-term contracts offer significant value for viewers looking to cut the cord.
3. Max (formerly HBO Max)
Max, formerly known as HBO Max, offers a compelling blend of HBO’s critically acclaimed content, Warner Bros. movies, and exclusive originals. From groundbreaking series like “Game of Thrones” and “Succession” to blockbuster films and documentaries, Max has quickly become a favorite for premium content lovers. One advantage of Max is its robust selection of quality programming that appeals to a wide audience, including families, thanks to its inclusion of the entire Studio Ghibli catalog and more.
We (Mediapeanut) ran a survey on the users of our site, and found HBO Max to be one of the most common streaming devices users subscribe to after Netflix. but do note that Max’s subscription fee reflects the premium nature of its content.
However, for those who prioritize quality over quantity, the investment is well worth it. Side note: Max’s integration of HBO content has solidified its position as a go-to platform for critically acclaimed series and movies.
Hulu stands out for its unique offering of current-season TV shows from major networks, often available to stream just a day after airing, alongside a growing library of original series and movies. This makes it an excellent option for viewers who want to keep up with their favorite shows in real-time. Hulu also offers a variety of plans, including an ad-supported option, making it accessible to a range of budgets.
Also… while Hulu’s strength lies in its TV show catalog, its movie selection is not as extensive as some competitors. However, its partnership with various content creators and networks ensures a fresh and diverse content lineup.
Side note: Hulu’s live TV option further expands its appeal by offering a strong alternative to traditional cable subscriptions.
5. Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video is part of the larger Amazon Prime subscription, offering a wide array of movies, TV shows, and Amazon Originals. With standout series like “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Fleabag,” Prime Video has made its mark in the streaming world. One advantage of Prime Video is the additional benefits that come with an Amazon Prime membership, including free shipping, music streaming, and more.
I found that Prime Video’s interface can sometimes be cluttered, mixing rental content with free Prime content (which is my biggest issue with it).
However, its integration with Amazon’s ecosystem and the value of the Prime membership make it an attractive option for many and for this reason i’l continue to be a customer.
Side note: Prime Video’s investment in international productions has significantly expanded its global content offering.
6. Disney Plus
Disney Plus has quickly risen in the ranks of streaming services, thanks to its exclusive access to Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic content. Ideal for families and fans of these franchises, Disney Plus offers a nostalgic journey through beloved classics and exciting new additions.
A Benefit here: Disney Plus is its family-friendly focus, providing a safe and enjoyable viewing experience for all ages.
Keep in mind, while Disney Plus’s content is rich in quality, its niche focus may not cater to all viewers. However, its competitive pricing and the constant addition of new content, including exclusive movie releases and series, offer substantial value. Side note: The platform’s commitment to expanding the Marvel and Star Wars universes has solidified its must-have status for fans.
7. Sling TV
Lets not be coy… Sling TV is a pioneer in the live TV streaming market because of its affordability. It offers a flexible and affordable alternative to traditional cable subscriptions.
With packages that allow subscribers to pick their channel lineup, Sling TV caters to viewers’ specific interests, whether it’s sports, news, entertainment, or children’s programming.
Sling TV is its a la carte approach to channel selection, allowing users to tailor their subscriptions to their viewing preferences without paying for unwanted channels.
Keep in mind, while Sling TV offers considerable flexibility and cost savings, it may require additional package purchases to get a comprehensive channel lineup, which can add up. However, for those looking to cut the cord and still keep access to live TV, Sling TV presents a viable and customizable option.
Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service, enters the scene with a unique proposition by offering a tiered service model, including a free, ad-supported tier. This approach provides viewers with the flexibility to access a range of content without a subscription, though premium content does require a paid plan.
Peacock has an extensive library of classic NBC shows, new original series, and live sports events, making it a well-rounded option for most.
Keep in mind, while the free tier is an attractive feature, accessing the full breadth of Peacock’s content, including exclusive series and premium sports events, requires upgrading to a paid subscription. However, its combination of classic content, new originals, and the option for free access sets Peacock apart in a crowded market.
Side note: Peacock’s investment in streaming rights for live sports, including the Olympics and Premier League soccer, enhances its appeal to sports fans.
9. Apple TV Plus
Apple TV Plus marks Apple’s foray into the streaming world, focusing on original content produced by some of the biggest names in entertainment. With a slate of critically acclaimed series, films, and documentaries, Apple TV Plus aims to offer quality over quantity.
A Big plus of Apple TV Plus is its commitment to high-production-value originals, including “Ted Lasso” and “The Morning Show,” which have received widespread acclaim and awards.
Keep in mind, while Apple TV Plus’s catalog is not as extensive as other services, its lower price point and inclusion in the Apple One bundle make it an attractive option for fans of premium original content. Additionally, purchasing Apple devices often comes with a free subscription offer, adding value to Apple product users.
Side note: Apple TV Plus’s focus on family-friendly content and innovative storytelling sets it apart as a streaming app, it also fits well in the apple ecosystem.
FuboTV started as a sports-focused streaming service but has since expanded its offerings to include a wide range of live TV channels, making it a strong contender in the cord-cutting market. With a particular emphasis on sports, including soccer, NFL, MLB, and more, FuboTV appeals to sports enthusiasts seeking comprehensive sports coverage alongside their favorite entertainment and news channels. One advantage of FuboTV is its extensive sports content, which is hard to match, especially for soccer fans.
Also: FuboTV’s recent additions of entertainment and news channels have broadened its appeal beyond just sports fans, making it a more comprehensive live TV streaming service.
Keep in mind, FuboTV’s pricing is on the higher end for streaming services, reflecting its broad channel lineup and sports-centric approach. However, for viewers prioritizing live sports and wanting a wide selection of channels without a traditional cable subscription, FuboTV offers significant value.
11. ESPN Plus
ESPN Plus caters specifically to sports enthusiasts, offering a wide array of live sports events, original programming, and access to ESPN’s rich archive of sports documentaries, including the acclaimed “30 for 30” series.
This platform is a must-have for fans wanting to dive deep into everything from UFC, soccer, baseball, and college sports. One advantage of ESPN Plus is its exclusive content and live game broadcasts that aren’t available on ESPN’s cable channels, making it an essential addition for serious sports fans.
Keep in mind, ESPN Plus does not replace ESPN’s cable channels but rather complements them by offering additional content that enhances the sports viewing experience. For viewers looking for a comprehensive sports package, combining ESPN Plus with a live TV streaming service that includes ESPN’s main channels might be necessary.
Starz has made a name for itself not only as a cable channel but also as a streaming service, offering a rich catalog of movies and original series. Known for hit shows like “Outlander” and “Power,” Starz appeals to viewers looking for compelling dramas and a robust selection of films.
One advantage of the Starz streaming service is its early access to new movies, often making films available to stream before they are offered on other services or rental platforms.
Keep in mind, while Starz offers a compelling content library, it may be viewed as an add-on rather than a standalone streaming service due to its focus on specific genres and series. However, for fans of its original programming and movie selection, Starz offers great value and entertainment.
Side note: Starz’s user-friendly interface and compatibility with multiple streaming devices ensure a seamless viewing experience for subscribers.
13. Paramount Plus
Paramount Plus, the rebranded and expanded version of CBS All Access, combines live TV (including sports and news) with an extensive library of movies, classic TV shows, and original content. This service is home to popular franchises like “Star Trek” and offers exclusive access to CBS’s broad range of programming. One advantage of Paramount Plus is its mix of live and on-demand content, making it a versatile option for viewers who enjoy both current TV shows and binge-watching series or movies.
Keep in mind, Paramount Plus is in the process of expanding its original content offerings to compete more directly with other major streaming services. For subscribers, this means an evolving library with the potential for more exclusive, must-watch programming.
Side note: Paramount Plus’s inclusion of content from Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV, and BET adds a diverse range of entertainment options, catering to a wide audience.
How we Ranked & Chose the top streaming apps
When evaluating streaming services, content variety is a crucial factor. A service’s ability to offer a wide range of genres, catering to different tastes and interests, can significantly enhance its appeal. Services that provide a mix of movies, TV shows, documentaries, and live sports tend to attract a broader audience, ensuring there’s something for everyone.
User Interface and Experience
A user-friendly interface that makes it easy to discover new content and navigate through libraries is essential for a positive streaming experience. Services that invest in intuitive design and personalized recommendations tend to retain subscribers by making their viewing experience seamless and enjoyable.
Pricing and Value
The cost of a streaming service and the value it offers in terms of content quality and quantity are key considerations for consumers. Services that provide flexible pricing options, including free tiers or bundled packages, offer greater appeal by accommodating different budgets and viewing habits.
The availability of exclusive, original content can set a streaming service apart, attracting subscribers with programming that can’t be found elsewhere. Services that consistently produce high-quality originals have a competitive edge, often becoming must-haves for viewers seeking unique and compelling content.
In today’s multi-device world, compatibility across various platforms and devices is a significant factor. Streaming services that offer apps and support for a wide range of devices, including smart TVs, gaming consoles, smartphones, and tablets, provide a more flexible and accessible viewing experience.
If you’re considering something like a Roku, see the 7 Best Roku Streaming Devices For Every Budget
The Future of Streaming Services
Trends to Watch
The streaming industry continues to evolve, with new technologies and consumer behaviors shaping its future. The rise of interactive and immersive content, such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), offers new ways to engage viewers. Additionally, the competition among services is likely to drive further innovation in content delivery, personalization, and user experience.
The Role of AI and Personalization
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning play a crucial role in enhancing the streaming experience through personalized content recommendations. By analyzing viewing habits, these technologies can predict what users might want to watch next, making content discovery more intuitive.
As AI technology advances, we can expect even more sophisticated personalization and efficiency in content delivery.
The streaming service landscape offers an incredible diversity of content and viewing experiences, catering to virtually every interest and preference. From giants like Netflix and Disney Plus to niche platforms and live TV alternatives like Sling TV and YouTube TV, viewers have more choices than ever before. As we look to the future, the ongoing evolution of technology and content production promises to make the streaming world even more dynamic and engaging.
The key for viewers is to navigate this vast array of options to find the services that best match their viewing habits and content desires, ensuring a rich and enjoyable entertainment experience.