Video streaming has been booming in popularity and competition for several years, but the launch of offerings from Disney and Apple entering into 2020 has intensified the fight for subscribers.
Digital video content began with downloads from traditional cable services. But faster, more reliable internet connections have increased consumer demand for streaming, with 69% of consumers now opting for some form of online streaming service compared to 65% paying for cable or satellite, according to Deloitte’s digital trends research. This demand will lead to the global market reaching $124.57 million by 2025, according to MarketWatch.
Netflix initially took the market by storm, but more than 300 rival streaming apps in the US alone have joined the party, making the choice of video streaming service increasingly difficult. We’ve rounded up the top five streaming services to help you find the video streaming services that fit your needs.
Top five streaming services
Our methodology and research
Number of streaming services researched: 15
Criteria used: We researched major streaming services and compared them based on content range, library size, monthly price and user experience. We selected three providers with strong existing presences and compared them against two new big-name competitors.
TV and movie streaming services compared
|Amazon Prime Video||Apple TV+||Disney+||Hulu||Netflix|
|Starting monthly price||$8.99/mo.-$12.99/mo.||$4.99/mo.||$6.99/mo.||$5.99/mo.-$50.99/mo.||$8.99/mo.-$15.99/mo.|
|Free trial length||30 days|
6 months for students
1 year for new Apple device owners
|7 days||1 month|
7 days with Hulu + Live TV packages
|Number of titles||17,000+||12+||600+||Thousands||5,000+|
|Original content available||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Number of simultaneous streams||2||6||4||2||1-4|
Find your perfect TV and movie streaming service
Every streaming service has its own nuances and strong points. Criteria for selecting your perfect streaming service can range from the subject matter you prefer and your preference for TV shows or movies to whether you want as much original content as possible or all the old classics.
Best streaming service for its content library: Amazon Prime Video
Amazon boasts 17,000+ titles with a wide range of TV shows and movies. It offers a strong catalog of classics through as well as current series, documentaries, movies and original content. Visit our Amazon Prime Video review to read more about what this service offers.
Unlike Netflix, Amazon tends to premiere its original movies in theaters and makes subscribers wait a few weeks for access.
What to watch on Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime is building a solid bank of original content to rival Netflix, including The Man In The High Castle and its All Or Nothing documentaries, as well as movies like Logan Lucky and The Big Sick. For further information on what shows and movies to watch on Amazon Prime, visit our guides.
Best streaming service for star-studded new content: Apple TV+
Apple TV+ announced itself on the scene with expensively assembled shows and movies featuring big-name actors from high-profile filmmakers. This makes it a great choice for anyone on the lookout for high-quality new content. To read more about what this new service has to offer, visit our Apple TV+ review.
With the focus on big new content comes a smaller content library than its more established competitors. You’ll have to look elsewhere for a wide range of TV and video choices.
What to watch on Apple TV+
Morning news drama The Morning Show heads up Apple TV+’s initial launch content. It includes Steve Carell, Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon in its star-studded cast. Add to that the post-apocalyptic drama See, starring Game of Thrones’ Jason Momoa, and For All Mankind, which imagines a world where the Soviet Union beat the USA in the global space race, and you’ve got a tasty collection of original content. For more great movies and shows to watch on Apple TV+, visit our guides.
Best streaming service for Disney-owned content: Disney+
Disney+’s mix of classic movies, TV shows and brand new content makes it an immediate competitor to Amazon and Netflix. On top of that, its acquisition of Fox could make it even more appealing. Visit our Disney+ review to learn more about this new streaming service.
The new service lacks content from outside its vast ecosystem, as its Disney+ Originals are better classified as spin-offs from Disney’s existing series and movies (e.g. The Mandalorian, the live-action Star Wars series). Therefore, it won’t immediately compete with the likes of Netflix and Hulu on content library depth due to its established partnerships and licensing deals.
What to watch on Disney+
Disney+ is home to plenty of Pixar, Star Wars and Marvel content, in addition to its own Disney cartoons, shows and movies. For a full list of the best shows, and movies to watch on Disney+, visit our guides.
Best streaming service for brand-new TV: Hulu
Hulu’s key attraction is that it streams episodes of network TV series the day after they aired live. This makes it a natural choice for people that want to keep pace with network shows without having a cable subscription. To read more about Hulu and what it has to offer, visit our Hulu review.
Major networks are increasingly looking to take on Netflix by launching their own streaming platforms, such as HBO Max launching in May 2020. This could cause Hulu to struggle at bit given its lack of original content, especially if it loses NBC shows like 30 Rock.
What to watch on Hulu
Best streaming service for original content: Netflix
The original streaming service and still the dominant player in the market, Netflix’s core strength is creating the best collection of original programming. It also boasts an unrivaled content library. For more information on Netflix and what it has to offer, visit our Netflix review.
While it still has a huge content library, Netflix’s domination of the streaming market is potentially under threat from new players and networks taking their original content back.
What to watch on Netflix
Netflix’s original programming includes series like Stranger Things, Narcos and Orange is the New Black. It also has original movies like The Irishman and El Camino. For more ideas of what movies and shows to watch on Netflix, visit our guides.
Our hot take
TV and movie lovers have several choices when it comes to streaming services, so the key is picking the platform that best caters to your needs. Each service has its own specific strong point, from Netflix’s original content, Amazon’s impressive catalog and Hulu’s new TV choices to Apple’s star-studded new content and the potential of Disney+. Whatever your preference, there’s a service out there to keep everyone happily glued to the tube.