It seems only a short time ago that streaming services were in their infancy and were thought of as a convenient alternative to cable TV. Now, in just a few short years, they have taken off tremendously and are a primary source of home entertainment for a substantial and ever growing audience.
Netflix is still the big dog in the yard, having more subscribers in the US than cable TV, but as the technology grows, so does the accessibility. The number of streaming service providers is growing every year, and consumers can now find themselves a little lost among the myriad of choices around them.
Luckily, there is a wide variety of services available for just about anyone, with services that carry not just TV and movies, but sports, animation, and more. Whether you’re on a budget and looking for a cheaper alternative to cable or a specific product that delivers the best in the kind of entertainment you love, there is definitely a streaming service out there for you.
Here are the 15 Streaming Services That Put Netflix To Shame.
15. Hulu With Live TV
Hulu has established itself as the Television equivalent of Netflix, and now, with Hulu with Live TV, users have access to all on demand content, as well as Hulu’s growing number of original shows.
Coming in a $40 a month, Hulu Live TV provides a colossal amount of shows. The notable exceptions to their lineup is a lack of AMC, which means that hits like The Walking Dead and Preacher aren’t there, and Viacom, and no Comedy Central or MTV.
However, this only applies to live viewings, as users can access shows from those channels as part of the Hulu archive, so it’s not as bad as it could be. Premium cable channels like HBO are only available as add-ons for their standard prices right now, and all users get 50 hours of DVR that have no time limit.
The interface of Hulu Live is very easy to use and looks fantastic to boot, with a excellent personalization system that easily lets users filter out channels and shows that don’t interest them. Hulu Live is the most comprehensive channel service on the list, and if TV is your main thing, it is exactly what you need.
14. Showtime Anytime
Showtime is the number two to HBO in the premium cable standings and has been for a long time now. They’ve managed to stay competitive and successful for decades and haven’t lost a step while breaking into the streaming market.
Available for $11 a month, Showtime Anytime provides exactly what it says it does — the best in premium movies and original TV. Possessing a very impressive lineup of hugely popular shows such as Shameless, Homeland, and Twin Peaks, subscribers will have access to these shows and all the rest as soon as they air, as well as the archives of past shows like Dexter and Penny Dreadful.
Showtime is also home to some of the best sports and documentaries you can find, and is a giant in film access, premiering top movies as fast as anyone. The service is available for a cheaper $9 a month on Hulu as well.
13. HBO Now
The grand daddy of premium cable channels is unsurprisingly one of the ideal choices for a high quality streaming service. How many times have you wanted HBO without the cable subscription and all the unwanted content that comes with it?
Well, now for $14 a month, users can have everything that HBO has to offer on their own device without the extra baggage. As the biggest name in home entertainment, HBO has the best and most popular movies as soon as they are released for home viewing, meaning that watching only a few of them through HBO Now will more than cover the cost of renting them individually.
What HBO really brings to the table, though, is the very best in original programming. It includes not only the newer hits like Game of Thrones and Westworld, but also past shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, True Detective, and many more greats are all archived and waiting for viewing.
That’s not even counting the plethora of great documentaries, sports, and comedy specials. The lack of other cable channels hardly matters because HBO is a world of great entertainment in and of itself.
12. Amazon Prime Instant Video
Amazon was quick to enter the streaming market and managed to hit the ground running with a video service that comes with a subscription to Amazon Prime. The shopping giant’s Prime service runs for $99 per year and is hugely beneficial to those who wish to make regular or even casual use of it.
What makes this appealing is that it’s a service that feels like a bonus addition to an already sweet deal. Amazon Video provides top notch programming, and allows users to download videos for later offline use, which is a big deal for many customers.
The content provided is impressive– an expansive and ever growing list of hi-def shows and movies, award winning original programming, and live TV. The service is great for both adults and kids, with a great selection of children’s programming that outshines all competitors except Disney.
For the films that slip through the cracks of the Netflix library, Amazon is the top choice to find them. Great for binge watchers, movie buffs, kids, and readers, Amazon Prime Video is arguably the best streaming service out there, and is highly recommended for all user of all ages.
11. YouTube TV
As the second most popular site on the internet, it was only a matter of time before YouTube began their own paid streaming service. Still very new, Youtube TV at a glance may look like it needs to beef up its lineup to justify its price, but there are a whole lot of great things about it to consider.
Coming in at a hefty $35 a month and only available in select markets, YouTube TV nonetheless provides streaming quality that ranks top in customer satisfaction. Allowing up to six separate logins and three simultaneous streams, it comes with four ESPN channels, and ESPN 3 is reportedly on the way.
Besides the many standard cable channels ranging from news to prime time like AMC, members of Youtube Red will have all of their content included. Additionally, there is no cap to the amount of content you can DVR, and the billions of hours of content that Youtube provides is still there, catered to your watching habits.
10. DirectTV Now
Despite some of the technical issues that the service faced in it’s infancy, DirectTV Now has made some pretty big strides by patching problems and diversifying their lineup.
DirectTV Now offers four different tier packages, with the entry level deal coming in at a manageable $35 a month. This comes with more than 60 cable channels, including ESPN and local sports networks. The other three tiers come in at $50, $60, and $70. Premium cable channels like HBO and Cinemax are available as separate add-ons for the higher packages, and are offered at the cheapest rates around with the highest.
A lack of DVR is the main customer con right now, but AT&T have promised to remedy that soon. The best thing about DirectTV Now is that, if you are already a member of AT&T’s $90 a month unlimited data plan, they will discount $25 each month and you will get a free HBO subscription, so you can catch up on all of the Game of Thrones and Westworld you need.
For 16 years iTunes has been hugely popular, with subscribers now reaching in the hundreds of millions. Though they are trying to push the relatively new Apple Music, the classic iTunes is still the way that the majority of customers go, and Apple has built up a solid set of features for it over the years.
Available for $10 a month for individuals and $15 for a family plan, iTunes remains one of the most accessible and user friendly systems around. Users have access to all of the top shows and some of the newest movies.
Additionally, purchases on iTunes extra will include bonus features, such as behind the scenes specials, deleted scenes, and others depending on the title. Purchases and rentals on iTunes are accessible across any of your devices, and has a recently redesigned streaming music service that makes navigation easier than ever.
Also worth noting is the $5 a month deal for college students. While not as cost effective for movie junkies, iTunes is a very good choice for those who want to watch a select amount of films and shows.
Anime has long been cemented as a part of American pop culture, and although many of the streaming services on the market offer up some of the most popular titles, Crunchyroll has established itself as the premier service for the true hardcore anime fans.
For $7 or $11 a month, users have access to the largest library of anime so far. Shows that air in Japan are readily available on Crunchyroll within an hour, and are available in high def and 480p ED for early access simulcast shows.
Potential subscribers will be glad to hear that the all-in-one package will stream shows without advertisements, and they can also take advantage of special discounts on DVDs and other items in the daily deal program.
The icing on the cake is the ever growing library of manga that it supports. Some customers might be a bit put off by the fact that most of the shows are subtitles only, but chances are high that, if you’re this much into East Asian culture, it won’t bother you.
Maybe you’re someone who has to cut corners and can’t afford another monthly subscription. You don’t have to feel totally left out, because there are free services that provide solid content, and Crackle is one of the top names on the list.
Because it’s free, users will have to endure advertisements and the fact that there is a 420p cap on resolution, but for the price of zero, Crackle has a nice array of movies to choose from. The site has over 150 movies and more than 40 series to watch.
The interface is also very easy to use, with categories like “’80s Throwbacks” and “Award Winning Documentaries,” as well as the option to create your own playlist, bypassing the need to browse through your lesser desired content when you log in.
Surprisingly, Crackle also offers some original shows like Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. They are also quick to snatch up content that move out of Netflix’s rotation, making it a good choice to find some hidden gems that slip through the cracks of the major players in the market.
6. Sony Playstation Vue
Sony Vue is one of the best streaming services available no matter what type of digital entertainment you’re looking for. Set at four different price tiers — $40 through $75 a month — subscribers in any price range can experience almost anything in the realm of hit movies and TV shows.
The only noticeable omission is that Sony doesn’t have a deal with Viacom, which means users cannot watch channels such as Spike, MTV, and Comedy Central. However, even the cheapest package contains highly sought after channels like ESPN and AMC. Furthermore, the highest tier package comes with free subscription to Showtime and HBO, each of which would normally be at least $15 as add-ons.
For cord cutters who are concerned about losing local channels, you’ll be glad to know that Sony Vue offers more local channels than any of its competitors. You do not need to own a Sony Playstation to enjoy Vue, as it is available on web browser, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku devices.
Vevo is unique on the list because it is the only entry that is strictly dedicated to music videos and live performances. Don’t think of Vevo as simply a copy of Youtube, though, because it offers much more streamlined searches, and its deals with the “big three” record companies ensure that all the latest videos from top selling artists will be there.
The mobile app for iOS, Android, Kindle, and others contains an impressive 50,000 videos and performances from over 7,500 artists. Users are not required to create an account but would be better off doing so, as you’ll have access to a personalized playlist and page.
Some users may not like the fact that much of their content in censored because of Vevo’s model of attracting big advertisers, but for the quality and volume of the content this will be an acceptable flaw for most.
Commercials are present but they aren’t overbearing, with advertisements coming up every five or so videos. With videos, live shows, behind the scenes interviews, and much more, Vevo is a must-have for music fans of all kinds.
FuboTV is a sports-focused service with a main selling point focusing on the fact that they are, by far, the biggest source of major league soccer. Soccer has been getting more popular in the United States every year, and while channels like ESPN offer some games, hardcore fans have a tough time accessing the true depth that MLS has to offer without buying expensive cable sports packages. Enter FuboTV.
With 12 live channels covering eight leagues, even the most die hard soccer fans will have a tough time keeping up with the content. While the deal breaker for some will be no ESPN access, the audience that Fubo targets likely won’t care too much because of their dedication to the world’s most popular sport.
Additionally, FuboTV provides a lot of niche sports channels that fans of non-American sports will love. It also has some of the popular basic cable stations, but is not the ideal choice for TV junkies.
Right now, Fubo’s biggest problem is their price, at a steep $50 a month for premier access. However, it is still without question a great service and is exactly what cord cutting soccer fans are looking for.
3. WWE Network
Pro Wrestling fans are perhaps the luckiest of the niche audiences when it comes to a streaming service, because the WWE Network is a truly impressive product that is constantly improving.
With a long history of staying ahead of the curve on their competition, World Wrestling Entertainment is in the third year of their subscription service that some fans call the “Netflix of Wrestling.”
The price is an easy $10 per month, and it includes a non tier system and can be canceled at anytime. The main draw of the network is that all of the company pay per views, which used to be at least $40 each on cable, are included.
On top of that, the WWE Network contains a massive archive of past wrestling and a full library from defunct wrestling companies like WCW, ECW, and AWA, and a huge amount of original programming.
WWE is also constantly putting out specials like the new Mae Young Women’s tournament, so fans can expect more of the core product to be integrated into the Network as time goes on. This is the holy grail for any wrestling fan.
2. Curiosity Stream
Probably the least known entry on the list is Curiosity Stream, a service started by founders of the Discovery Channel that focuses on documentaries. Curiosity is one of the newer streaming services that has the unenviable task of trying to break into the market without major corporate backers, putting them at an immediate disadvantage to heavy hitters like Sony and Hulu.
However, it does provide a unique experience and delivers what it says it does. Subscribers can find documentaries of all kinds from full length features to series and shorts, as well as a small amount of original high quality content.
The standard plan is $6 per month while premium is $11, and both of those will run Hi-Def for all programs. Curiosity is also refreshing in that its content is intelligent and professional; no ghost hunting or speculative history of aliens here, only quality information that runs totally ad-free.
The big budget documentaries like Cosmos aren’t here, but that doesn’t feel like such a big loss when your streaming service has such a huge library. They are still new but are starting to carve out a nice corner of the market for themselves.
1. Sling Orange
Sling is the rebranded platform that used to be called Dishworld, a service that Dish network started five years ago. Sling has set itself up to be much like the old standard cable model, only at a very reduced price.
For $20 per month, subscribers will have many of the popular basic cable stations like AMC, ESPN, Disney, TBS, and many more. Whatever channels are not included are available through package add-ons for an additional $5 each, such as the sports, comedy, and kids packages. Premium cable channels are also available through their standard price of $15.
Sling is appealing because it lets users customize their experience in a way that they have wanted to for years. With the hundreds of cable channels out there, many go unwatched, but with Sling users can cut out all of the extra fluff that isn’t for them and have a personalized batch of content at a fraction of the price.
Furthermore, Sling is highly accessible and runs on just about anything that has an internet connection. If you are seeking a similar cable experience after cord cutting, Sling offers a free seven day trial and is definitely a service worth trying out.
What’s your faovrite streaming service? Can you think of any others that are better than Netflix that we forgot? Let us know in the comments.
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