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The Best On-Demand Streaming Services

Stream must-watch shows and movies anywhere, anytime.

Syndication: The Augusta Chronicle
Credit: Miguel Legoas / USA TODAY NETWORK

The leading on-demand streaming services offer the convenience of watching movies, shows, and series at your preferred time and location. Once you sign up, you gain the flexibility to stream content from your TV, laptop, phone, or tablet, accessing a vast library of options offered by the service of your choice. Whether you’re in the mood for timeless classics, binge-worthy series, captivating documentaries, or the latest episodes of beloved family shows, all are readily available with just a few clicks.

With the rising popularity of on-demand streaming, an increasing number of services are entering the market. Selecting the right one for your needs entails comparing factors such as pricing, available content, and additional features to find the perfect fit that aligns with your preferences.

Top streaming services for on-demand viewing

Best overall: Netflix

netflix logo
BenefitsDrawbacks
Plans starting from $6.99 per monthCheaper plans don’t allow simultaneous streams
Ad-free streaming availableSome content unavailable to download
Large library of titles, including critically acclaimed movies, series, and documentariesLibrary content can vary according to location

One of the best-known streaming platforms, Netflix is a popular choice that’s dominated the on-demand market in recent years for good reason. With prices ranging from $6.99 to $19.99 per month, it offers one of the largest content libraries available, including original programming like “Stranger Things,” “The Crown,” and “Squid Game.”

The Netflix interface is easy to use and features options to search by name, genre, type of content, and more. One drawback is that cheaper plans allow you to stream and download on only one or two devices, meaning multi-person households will be best served by the more expensive plans.

However, the amount of choice, ease of use, and affordable pricing make Netflix hard to beat. There’s truly something for everyone to watch in the library, making it a worthwhile service for most individuals and multi-person households who want to watch together.

Best for families: Disney Plus

Disney plus logo
BenefitsDrawbacks
Exclusive access to Disney, Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, and National Geographic content and the option to upgrade to the Disney BundleLimited library of 300 titles
Plans start from $7.99 per monthNot every Disney show and movie is available in the library
Unlimited downloads on up to 10 devices with premium plansLess user-friendly interface than some other services

Disney Plus is a must-have for fans of Disney, Marvel, Pixar, National Geographic, and Star Wars-related content, as it provides exclusive access to classic content and new releases from these brands. The platform also hosts popular shows, like “The Simpsons” and “The Mandalorian.”

Plans start from $7.99 (with ads) or $10.99 (without ads) per month with the option to upgrade to the Disney Bundle starting from $9.99 per month for additional access to the Hulu and ESPN Plus on-demand libraries.

One drawback of Disney Plus is the interface, which is less user-friendly than some other platforms. But generous download and simultaneous stream options and the ability to configure profiles for kids make the service a great option for multi-person households and families in particular.

Best with live TV: Hulu

hulu logo
BenefitsDrawbacks 
Thousands of shows and movies, including Hulu Originals and the option to upgrade to the Disney BundleCheaper plan doesn’t include the option to download and watch
Create up to six user profiles and stream on two screens simultaneouslyNo option for unlimited screens with on-demand plans
Many new episodes available the day after they airLimited movie options

Hulu offers a content library with thousands of shows and movies, including originals like “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Pam and Tommy.” As opposed to some other services, Hulu’s focus is on shows rather than movies: The movie selection is somewhat limited, but Hulu subscribers can get quick access to new shows, which are often available the day after they first air.

The basic Hulu plan starts from $7.99 per month with ads or $17.99 per month without ads, but Hulu also offers some interesting package deals. Subscribers can upgrade to the Disney Bundle from $24.99 per month for additional access to Disney Plus and ESPN Plus, add Max, or upgrade to Hulu + Live TV for $76.99 for access to more than 90 live TV channels. While the Hulu on-demand library is a solid service, it’s somewhat lacking in movies and must-watch shows, meaning it’s probably best as an add-on for people who also want to stream live TV rather than as a stand-alone on-demand service in itself.

Best for must-watch shows: Max

Max logo
BenefitsDrawbacks
Quick to add new release movies to its library Starting prices from $9.99 per month make Max more expensive than other services
Access exclusive content, like “The White Lotus,” “The Last of Us,” “House of the Dragon,” and “Euphoria”New episodes of anticipated shows tend to release weekly rather than all at once
Option to stream live soccerCheaper plan doesn’t include downloads for offline viewing or 4K streaming

One of the biggest benefits of Max is the quality of its content library packed full of acclaim-worthy shows like “The White Lotus,” “The Last of Us,” “House of the Dragon,” and “Euphoria.” Along with the latest releases, it also includes critically acclaimed classics like “Game of Thrones” and “The Wire.” 

The service is also worthwhile for movie fans, as it’s one of the quickest to add new releases. With a starting price of $9.99 per month with ads ($99.99 annually) or $15.99 per month without ads ($149.99 annually), Max is more expensive than some competitors. But the thousands of hours of iconic movies and shows it offers makes the service worthwhile for film and TV buffs who want access to the latest big-name shows and movies.

Best for Amazon users: Amazon Prime Video

Amazon prime video logo
BenefitsDrawbacks 
Bundles with other Prime services Expensive compared to other services with starting prices at $8.99 per month
Access to live sports events like “Thursday Night Football”Less user-friendly interface than other platforms
Some live channels included, such as the IMDB ChannelMany titles are only available for paid rental or purchase

Amazon Prime Video includes thousands of titles, movies, and TV shows with original content, like “The Boys,” “Three Pines,” and “Jack Ryan.” It also includes access to some live sports events, such as “Thursday Night Football.”

However, at $8.99 per month or $139 per year, Amazon Prime Video is one of the more expensive platforms and doesn’t offer the same quality or quantity as some competitors. What sets the service apart is the option to integrate other Amazon benefits included in the Prime package, like free and fast shipping and access to discounted products on the company’s shopping site. As such, Amazon Prime Video is best suited to existing Amazon Prime customers.

Best price: Peacock

peacock tv logo
BenefitsDrawbacks 
Paid plans start from $4.99 per monthLess content than competitors
Next-day access to shows from NBC and BravoInterface is less instinctive than competitors
Access to live sports, including soccer, WWE, NFL, and MLBCheaper plans don’t include the option to download and watch

Peacock is a relative newcomer to the on-demand streaming scene, but it offers one of the best deals in terms of price. Much of the content on Peacock is available for free, and paid plans start from just $4.99 per month (with ads) or $9.99 per month (without ads). Annual plans offer even more savings at $49.99 and $99.99, respectively. 

For this, subscribers get access to new, landmark series like “Yellowstone” and “Poker Face,” classic shows including “The Office” and “Saturday Night Live,” and all the latest hits from NBC and Bravo. There’s also the option to watch live sports and events, including Premier League, WWE, “Sunday Night Football,” and “MLB Sunday Leadoff.”

Peacock may have less content than other platforms, but it’s growing in quantity, and its low price point makes it an excellent service for people who want access to a quality service for an affordable price.

Best accessible streaming: Apple TV Plus

apple tv plus logo
BenefitsDrawbacks
Prices start at $6.99 per monthLack of content outside of Apple Originals
Access to watch “Friday Night Baseball”Not available on the Google Play store, so incompatible with some devices
7-day free trial availableThree-month free trial available only with the purchase of an eligible Apple device

Another relative newcomer, Apple TV Plus is a growing service that prioritizes high-quality, original entertainment. Popular original shows available on Apple TV Plus include “Shrinking,” “Ted Lasso,” CODA,” “The Morning Show,” and “Severance.” 

Although Apple TV Plus has less content than some other platforms — and no shows that aren’t an Apple Original — prices start from a relatively affordable $6.99 per month. There’s also a seven-day free trial available or a three-month free trial with the purchase of specific Apple devices. 

One drawback is that Apple TV Plus isn’t available on all devices, as the app isn’t supported by the Google Play store. However, a feature that will make Apple TV Plus indispensable to some viewers is its commitment to accessibility. All Apple Originals are either subbed or dubbed in nearly 40 languages and come with the options of closed captions, bold text, increased contrast, and motion reduction for sight- and hearing-impaired viewers.

Choosing an on-demand streaming service

Choosing the best on-demand streaming service for you depends on your budget and streaming tastes. As each streaming platform has rights to a different range of content, it might be that the ability to watch your favorite show defines which service is the right one for you.

That said, many people sign up for on-demand streaming in order to have a wide range of shows and movies to watch at any time. For this, Netflix provides a great service offering both quantity and quality. Disney Plus and Max also have a lot to offer, especially for fans of specific universes and high-quality series. 

Up-and-comers Peacock and Apple TV Plus may offer fewer choices, but they still have high-quality viewing options, and their lower price points are a selling point in themselves. Finally, services like Hulu and Amazon may be best suited to subscribers who are looking for solid on-demand services that also tie in with other lifestyle factors, like the ability to stream live TV or benefit from Amazon services.

FAQ

What streaming service has the best on demand?

Choosing the best on-demand streaming service depends on the kind of content you like to watch and your budget. Netflix offers one of the widest ranges of quality content for a reasonable price.

What are the top 5 streaming services?

The top five streaming services may differ for different viewers. Netflix, Disney Plus, Max, Apple TV Plus, and Peacock all offer a range of high-quality, original content with plans to suit various budgets.

How much is a video on demand subscription?

Prices for on-demand streaming depend on the service you subscribe to. In general, prices range from free to around $20 per month.

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