Streaming services have become far more popular over the last ten years. In fact, streaming is now more common in the United States than conventional cable TV. With Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, and other platforms each offering unique content, many people now subscribe to multiple services.
Today, we’ll take a look at some of the top streaming services in 2022. We’ll also examine the pros and cons of each option to help you find the right subscription. Finally, we’ll give you some ideas to cut costs on the most popular streaming platforms.
Hulu, Prime Video, and other competitors have made inroads over the last few years. Even so, Netflix is still the biggest name in digital streaming. Its deep library of movies and TV shows of all kinds makes it a great option for almost everyone.
Netflix currently charges $9.99 per month for Basic, $15.49 per month for Standard, and $19.99 per month for Premium. Unfortunately, there is no free trial, and there are no discounts for paying annually.
All plans come with access to the same movies and shows. That said, Basic users can only see SD (standard definition) content. Additionally, they can only stream on one screen at a time and download content on a single phone or tablet.
On the other hand, Standard members get up to two devices for downloads and simultaneous streaming. They can also access HD (high definition) video. Finally, Premium users gain access to HD content and can stream and download on up to four devices.
For most users, the main issues with Netflix are its high prices and strict rules on account sharing. For example, Disney Plus limits all subscribers to four simultaneous streams. In contrast, Netflix only allows a single stream for Basic users and two for Standard.
Disney Plus is a relatively new streaming service from Disney. It has quickly become a leading alternative to Netflix and other established platforms. Like Netflix, it’s available on almost any device you might want to use to stream content. Disney Plus supports Playstation, Xbox, iOS, Android, Chromecast, Apple TV, Fire TV, smart TVs, and other popular devices.
Unfortunately, Disney Plus doesn’t include the entire Disney catalog. Still, it offers an impressive range of content that isn’t available to stream anywhere else.
Another similarity to Netflix is that Disney Plus comes with limits on the number of simultaneous streams. Similarly, there is a limit on the number of devices that can download content for offline viewing.
Fortunately, those limits are both significantly higher on Disney Plus than they are on Netflix. With Disney Plus, users get up to four simultaneous streams plus downloads on up to ten devices. You don’t need to upgrade to a more expensive plan to share the account with friends or family members.
Disney Plus currently costs $7.99 per month or $79.99 per year paid annually, which works out to $16 in annual savings. That makes it even cheaper than a Basic Netflix plan, and less than half the price of Premium. Disney is also heavily promoting the Disney Bundle, which comes with Disney Plus as well as Hulu and ESPN Plus.
The Disney Bundle starts at $13.99 per month. This version of the bundle includes an ad-supported Hulu account. You can also upgrade your bundle for $19.99 to get an an ad-free Hulu plan.
Finally, you can get a Disney Bundle with Hulu + Live TV if you want to access live content. This option runs $69.99 per month and is only available by signing up through Hulu. Unfortunately, Disney Plus doesn’t offer a free trial.
HBO Max is a streaming service that gives subscribers access to the full collection of HBO shows and movies. That library includes everything from classics like The Sopranos to more recent releases such as Game of Thrones or Succession.
HBO Max also offers both ad-supported and ad-free plans. If you’re willing to watch ads, you can subscribe for $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year paying annually. On the other hand, the ad-free option currently runs $14.99 per month or $149.99 per year.
The HBO Max app is available on most platforms including iOS, Android, Xbox, Playstation, Roku, Apple TV, and smart TVs. Keep in mind that you may already have access to HBO Max through your TV provider. In that case, you could download the app and access content without paying for a separate subscription.
Prime Video is Amazon’s answer to streaming services. It’s part of Amazon Prime, so it works differently from standalone platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney Plus. Non-members can still pay for individual movies or shows, but you need a Prime membership to access the full library.
Amazon Prime is available for $12.99 per month. You can also make one annual payment of $119.99, which works out to $10 per month. That leads to more than $35 in savings per year, so monthly subscribers should consider switching.
You can also start with a 30-day free trial if you’re unsure whether you want to use the platform. Keep in mind that your monthly or annual payment will also cover other Prime benefits such as photo storage, free two-day shipping, and more.
You may be eligible for a discount if you’re a student or if you receive certain forms of government assistance. These users can typically access Amazon Prime for about half of the usual cost. Make sure to double-check if you think you might be eligible for savings.
Prime Video comes with a collection of existing shows and movies as well as Amazon Originals like Jack Ryan. Still, even paying Prime members have to pay extra to either rent or buy premium content. That contrasts Prime Video with services like Netflix that offer their entire libraries to all subscribers.
Hulu is one of the top competitors to Netflix. Disney acquired Hulu in 2019 and made it part of the Disney Bundle along with ESPN Plus. That said, you can still pay for Hulu alone if you aren’t interested in the Disney Bundle.
Access to Hulu itself comes in at $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year for the ad-supported plan. The ad-free option costs $12.99 per month, and there is currently no annual discount for this subscription. Fortunately, Hulu offers a generous free trial of 30 days with no commitment.
Unlike the other services on this list, Hulu also provides access to live TV. Hulu + Live TV is only available through the Disney Bundle. You’ll pay $69.99 per month for the Disney Bundle with an ad-supported Hulu + Live TV subscription. That rate goes up to $75.99 for the ad-free version.
If you’re an eligible college or university student, you can get an ad-supported Hulu plan for just $1.99 per month. Students can also get a combined Hulu, Spotify, and SHOWTIME subscription for $4.99 per month.
Hulu supports most common devices including Apple TV, Chromecast, Playstation, Xbox, Roku, Fire TV, iOS, Android, and most smart TVs. It even supports the Nintendo Switch, which is left out by many other streaming services.
The Hulu content collection is similar to Netflix. Like Netflix, it offers a deep selection of old and new shows and movies in a variety of genres.
ESPN Plus is the streaming side of ESPN, one of the largest sports networks in the world. Apps are currently available for a wide range of devices and operating systems. Along with standards like Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, iOS, Samsung, Android, Playstation, Xbox, and Chromecast, ESPN Plus also supports some less common devices including Oculus Go and Xfinity Flex.
Standalone ESPN Plus subscriptions currently cost $6.99 per month, or $69.99 per year for an annual plan. However, ESPN Plus is also available through the Disney Bundle, which includes Hulu and Disney Plus.
The Disney Bundle starts at $13.99 per month and comes with an ad-supported Hulu plan. Users can also upgrade to ad-free Hulu access for $19.99 per month or Hulu + Live TV for $69.99 per month.
ESPN Plus offers popular sports and leagues like the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL plus UFC, golf, college, and European soccer. Unfortunately, ESPN Plus doesn’t offer any kind of free trial, so you’ll need to pay for a subscription upfront.
YouTube Premium is a little different from services like Netflix and Hulu, but it can still be a great value for YouTube users.
Premium members can take advantage of a few unique features. They avoid ads on all YouTube videos, and they can play content in the background on mobile devices. Premium supports video downloads for offline viewing. It also includes access to a new YouTube Music mobile app that works more like Spotify and Apple Music.
After a one-month free trial, you can keep your YouTube Premium membership active for a monthly payment of $11.99. However, you’ll pay just $119.99 for a full year of access. At $10 per month, that works out to two free months per year or $23.98 in savings.
Like Spotify, YouTube offers a Family subscription that supports up to five family members along with the main account holder. Family plans cost just $17.99 per month, so there’s an opportunity to save money compared to paying for your own individual subscription. YouTube’s terms require Family members to live in the same household, but it’s unclear how strictly that rule is enforced.
Finally, eligible students can get YouTube Premium for just $6.99 per month. You’ll be subject to annual verification if you choose this option. Remember that you’ll have to pay full price after graduation.
While each one comes with some unique content, you can’t go wrong with any of these top streaming services. Unfortunately, the fragmented streaming market makes it surprisingly difficult to get all the content you need from a single platform.
On the other hand, paying for multiple streaming services can add up quickly. For example, a Netflix, Disney Plus, and YouTube Premium subscription will set you back more than $350 per year.
With that in mind, the best way to save money on streaming services is to split costs. Whatever platform you’re interested in, check out the Gowd website to connect with other users who want to share an account.