With a long list of streaming services around, it can be challenging to pick the right one. On-demand services are ideal if you’re a person who enjoys binge-watching shows more than staying up to date with live TV since each service comes with its own library of content. Some feature exclusive original titles, and others offer a mixture of hit modern shows, star-studded movies, and cult classics from years gone by.
Often set at a relatively low price point, on-demand video services are perfect for those on a budget. The least expensive options don’t typically provide live TV. But this isn’t always the case — some offer both on-demand and live content.
Wondering which on-demand platform to choose? We’ve rounded up everything you need to know about the top streaming services out there.
What are the best on-demand streaming services?
While you may have only heard of on-demand streaming giants like Netflix and Hulu, there are plenty of other options to explore. Here are the best options around right now:
Compare on-demand streaming services
|Amazon Prime Video||Apple TV+||Disney+||Hulu||Netflix|
|Number of titles||20,000+||50+||800+||3,000+||5,000+|
|Number of simultaneous streams||3||6||4||2||1|
|Number of user profiles||6||1||7||6||5|
|Ad-free streaming available||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Free trial length||30 days||7 days||7 days||30 days||N/A|
Finding the right on-demand TV streaming service for cord-cutting
When it comes to on-demand streaming services, consider the kinds of shows and movies you love to watch. Are you a cheesy rom-com type of person? A fan of fantasies and thrillers? Or a sucker for documentaries? If you have specific titles in mind, even better — hunt around to see which service offers whatever you’re after.
And if there’s more than one person in your household, don’t forget to look at simultaneous streaming limits. More streams equal more people being able to watch at the same time.
Best for extra perks: Amazon Prime Video
Many use Amazon Prime for its two-day shipping and free music perks, but the company also gives Prime members endless on-demand entertainment via its Prime Video streaming service. It’s possible to pay for Prime Video on its own for $8.99/mo., but consider a full Amazon Prime subscription for just $12.99/mo. or $119/yr. You can also add the likes of CBS All Access ($5.99/mo.), Cinemax ($9.99/mo.), or Showtime ($10.99/mo.) to your subscription. Enjoy a 30-day free trial of all the Prime benefits, including Prime Video.
What to watch on Amazon Prime Video
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is just one Amazon Prime original to pay attention to. Other original names on the must-watch list include The Man in the High Castle — a series that explores what would have happened if Germany had won World War II — and Transparent, a family drama that follows a woman through her late-life transition. As well as gripping shows, you can view recently released movies like folk horror Midsommar and Olivia Wilde’s teen comedy Booksmart. Right now, it’s one of the few places you can watch classic HBO shows like Sex and the City and The Wire without paying an extra monthly fee.
Best on a budget: Apple TV +
Apple TV+’s catalog is small but growing. The only thing you’ll find in its library is original content. A grand total of 6 people can stream Apple TV+ content at the same time — that should be enough for your entire household and 1 or 2 friends. You don’t need Wi-Fi to enjoy the service’s shows and movies either – just download any title to an iPhone, iPad or Mac to watch offline. Unfortunately, this feature isn’t yet available on other streaming devices.
Anyone can start a 7-day free trial while those who buy a new iPhone, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac, or Apple TV can get 1 free year of Apple TV+. Students who pay $4.99/mo. for the Apple Music Student Plan can also access the service for free.
What to watch on Apple TV +
Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie and Nicholas Hoult all star in Apple TV+’s The Banker — a film set in the ’60s and inspired by the real story of two men who want everyone to live the American Dream. Alternatively, see the #MeToo movement with your very own eyes with workplace drama The Morning Show, sit down with Oprah Winfrey and her favorite books in Oprah’s Book Club, or witness how humans live after a virus turns them blind in See.
Best for family-friendly entertainment: Disney+
If you’re a mega-fan of the magical Disney world or heavily into Marvel and Star Wars movies, Disney+ is probably the streaming service for you. Disney+ allows every user to enjoy a personalized experience. Set up 7 profiles on one account, and designate kids’ profiles to stop younger viewers from watching age-inappropriate content. The service offers limitless downloads for offline viewing and 4 simultaneous streams.
What to watch on Disney+
Disney+’s movie catalog combines classic animations with superhero flicks and the odd rom-com. Introduce your family to the original Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King, revel in the special effects of Black Panther or Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and laugh out loud (literally) with Pirates of the Caribbean. When it comes to shows, you can see the adorable Baby Yoda in Disney+ original The Mandalorian or rewatch every episode of The Simpsons.
Best for people who also want live TV: Hulu
One of the biggest reasons to opt for Hulu over other on-demand streaming sites is its live TV option. While you can pay just $5.99/mo. for on-demand content, shelling out $54.99/mo. gives you access to the service’s on-demand library and more than 65 live TV networks.
Even if you don’t opt for the full TV package, you can still customize your Hulu account. You and 5 other people can create individual profiles to see personalized viewing recommendations and quickly pick up where you left off. Parents can also create kid-friendly profiles.
If you hate ads, Hulu gives you the chance to get rid of them for good. Its on-demand no-ad plan costs $11.99/mo. The no-ad live-TV option is $60.99/mo. But even with the no-ads plans, a few on-demand titles still feature ads. Start a month-long free trial to see if Hulu’s right for you.
What to watch on Hulu
Hulu is home to several highly-rated original shows. The Handmaid’s Tale — adapted from Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel — kickstarted the service’s series success. It’s been followed by the likes of the hilarious Shrill, and wartime comedy, Catch-22, starring George Clooney. Keep an eye out for recent addition, Mrs. America — featuring Cate Blanchett, it tells the story of the gender equality movement and the women who fought against their own freedom.
Best for original content: Netflix
Netflix was one of the first streaming services to invest heavily in original content. The platform has its very own Oscar-winning movies and a whole host of true crime documentaries. There’s plenty of non-original programming to keep you entertained as well. Shows are only added when an entire season is available, so Netflix is the place to binge-watch to your heart’s content.
Whichever movie or show you choose, you won’t have to deal with commercials. The service offers 3 plans to suit households of all sizes. The $8.99/mo. Basic package only allows 1 person to watch Netflix at a time. To access an extra stream, you need to upgrade to the $13.99/mo. Standard plan. To get 4 simultaneous streams, choose the $17.99/mo. Premium option.
Up to 5 user profiles can be created per account.
What to watch on Netflix
It’s impossible to ignore Netflix’s original shows and movies. Tiger King is the latest docuseries to take over social media. Focusing on the murky lives of people who own big cats as pets, its criminal twist will shock and surprise. Turn to Stranger Things for a slightly jumpy yet feel-good retro show, or try movies like Roma and Marriage Story.
The final cut
If you’re still looking for more, try combining one of the above platforms with a free streaming service such as Tubi TV. Or you can invest in an antenna to pick up major live TV networks for free.