Top Streaming Services Compared & Tips for Saving Money on Streaming
Cutting cable has become a pretty common money saving trend. After all, with all of the shows and movies available to stream, why would you need to pay $100+ a month for cable. But, how often do people sign up for a streaming service that they barely watch but continue to pay for month after month? I’ve put together a chart of the top streaming services compared to each other to help you find the best ones for you. This includes streaming services prices because too often people pay for services they don’t even use.
Streaming Services Compared
Pros and Cons of Netflix
Netflix is one of the largest streaming services available. It’s also the most popular of all the streaming services compared to it. And it’s no wonder why. Netflix is home to a huge catalog of content. It has thousands of TV shows and movies and hundreds of original programs as well. Many Netflix Originals, like Stranger Things, The Crown and Bridgerton are some of the most popular TV shows out there. It’s kind of difficult (though possible) to watch everything that Netflix has to offer. Netflix prices are also pretty reasonable, with a basic plan starting at $8.99 per month. The only downfall to Netflix is the incredibly long (sometimes a year or more) wait between seasons of shows. This is due to Netflix dropping entire seasons of shows at once, better for binging, but not for holding long-term interest.
Pros and Cons of Hulu
Hulu, though smaller than Netflix, is still a major streaming service. It has a large content catalog and several notable Hulu Originals, like The Handmaid’s Tale, Normal People and Little Fires Everywhere. The Handmaid’s Tale is an Emmy Award winner and Normal People is nominated for an Emmy this year. The Hulu Original holiday movie, Happiest Season, also gained a lot of popularity for the services this winter. Another big plus for Hulu with other streaming services compared to it is that they air programs from major television networks. This includes popular shows like Grey’s Anatomy, This Is Us, The Bachelor and SNL and network programs from FreeForm and FX. Hulu also has the option to upgrade their service for access to Live TV. The cons to Hulu are that the wait time between their original series seasons is also long, though they drop new episodes weekly instead of all at once. Also, if you have a basic Hulu plan then there are commercials. I’m willing to put up with commercials for only $5.99 per month though!
Pros and Cons of Disney+
I’m a little biased when it comes to Disney+ because I’m a HUGE Disney fan. Disney+, of course, has the largest Disney catalog of any streaming services compared to it. This includes Disney Classics that used to be locked in “the vault” and impossible to find and Disney Channel Original Movies (DCOMs if you will) that were impossible to find before Disney+. Plus, Disney owns Star Wars and Marvel, so the entire Star Wars Saga and all but 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are on this streaming service. Disney+ also boasts an ever-growing catalog of original shows. The Mandalorian and WandaVision have taken the world by storm, and there’s so much more coming. Disney+ also offers access to Disney movies originally slated for theatrical release at an extra fee. The live-action remake of Mulan (which was awful) was released for an additional $30 “Premiere Access” fee. Disney+ will be attempting this again with the upcoming release of Raya and the Last Dragon. It is rumored that Black Widow may be released in this manner in May, but that is not confirmed. My fingers are crossed! In my opinion, the only con to Disney+ is if you’re not into Disney movies, or Star Wars, or Marvel. Then it’s probably not the right fit.
Pros and Cons of HBO Max
HBO Max launched in May 2020, so it is relatively new to the streaming world. With all streaming services compared, HBO Max is definitely the most expensive, but it may also have the most potential. HBO Max has already secured many favorite series, such as Friends, The Big Bang Theory (previously not available to stream anywhere) and Gossip Girl. Plus, their catalog includes HBO hits like Game of Thrones, Sex and the City and The Sopranos. The streaming service has also launched several original series that have gained a lot of popularity, like The Flight Attendant and Euphoria. Another plus for HBO Max is that all Warner Bros. films are available on the streaming service concurrently with the theatrical release. This has already happened with the anticipated sequel “Wonder Woman 1984” and will also be the case for the new Godzilla, Matrix and Space Jam movies. Not going to lie, I may need to sign up so I can see Space Jam. HBO Max also has a few highly anticipated reboots, which will be HBO Max Originals, coming in the next year or so. This includes a reboot of Gossip Girl and a continuation of Sex and the City. I don’t currently have a HBO Max subscription, but I definitely will in the future. The biggest cons to HBO Max are of course the high price and it is not supported on all streaming devices, such as Roku.
Pros and Cons of Amazon Prime Video
With all streaming services compared, Amazon Prime Video is the least worth the cost (in my opinion). While Prime Video does offer some excellent original series, like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Man in the High Castle and Fleabag, it’s catalog of shows and movies is severely lacking. This streaming service does have quite a few older but very popular series, like Desperate Housewives and Chuck. It is definitely a streaming service that is better suited to trying for a month or two, watching all of the good content, and then moving on. The biggest draw for Amazon Prime Video is that it is included if you have an Amazon Prime membership. This means that many households already have access to Prime Video, without the additional monthly streaming subscription fee. We recently cancelled our Amazon Prime membership, therefore we don’t have Prime Video. There are a few children’s shows that will be missed, but overall it’s not much of a loss.
Pros and Cons of Peacock
Peacock is another newcomer to the streaming services scene. It launched in April 2020 with the big draw being that the Basic version of this platform is free. The free platform offers current NBC shows, select episodes of Peacock Originals (ie. Brave New World) and a library of NBC classics. The NBC classics include The Office, Parks and Rec, Cheers and the Law and Order library. Peacock also currently holds rights to Downton Abbey. That’s not bad for free! For an upgrade to $4.99 per month, users gain access to twice as much content. This includes full seasons of Peacock Originals, and other high-demand shows like Yellowstone. Both the free and $4.99 plans have commercials, which could be a con for some. To skip the ads, you’d need to upgrade again and pay $9.99 per month. With all streaming services compared, Peacock is an excellent option to have access to NBC classics (and more) at no extra cost.
Pros and Cons of AppleTV+
Apple TV+ has a lot of potential and is starting to gain traction in the streaming services world. The success of Apple TV+ Original, Ted Lasso (starring Jason Sudeikis), has definitely put it on the radar for more viewers. Recently, the streaming service launched more original series, including one starring Justin Timberlake (Palmer) and another directed by M. Night Shymalan (Servant). These series were highly anticipated and could mark a turning point for Apple TV+ as a streaming service. The greatest downfall to Apple TV+ is that it does not have a back catalog of non-original content. This makes subscribers less likely to stick around once they’ve watched all of the content that they were interested in. With all streaming services compared, Apple TV+ is the only one to not have a catalog of non-original shows or movies. That seems like a pretty big pitfall. The other con is that Apple TV+ is not available for streaming on Android devices.
Now, that we’ve looked all of the streaming services compared with each other, how do you decide which ones are best for you. Without spending just as much in streaming each year as you would on cable! I’ve developed a few tricks to make sure I always have plenty to watch, but to save myself a little extra money each month.
How to Save Money on Streaming Services
Rotate Streaming Services
You don’t have to have all of your streaming services running year round. Look at your streaming usage and see if there are any patterns as to how often you use a certain streaming service. Depending on the time of year, I typically use some streaming services more than others. In the Fall and Spring, I watch a lot of current network shows on Hulu the day, or several days, after they air. This means I’m watching all of my favorite shows as they come out. In the Summer and Winter, I usually watch more Netflix because network shows aren’t airing. During this time I turn off my Hulu subscription and only pay for Netflix and vice versa. This cuts WAY down on my TV related spending.
Make a Streaming Plan
There is SO much TV content out there, especially as more and more networks are developing their own streaming services. Make a list of shows that you’re interested in watching and which streaming services they are on. For example, maybe you really want to watch The Flight Attendant, but it’s only on HBO Max. Sign up for a month of HBO Max, watch your show and if nothing else catches your eye right then, cancel the subscription. Or say, you’ve watched all that you’re interested in on Netflix, but a new season of a Netflix Original that you love comes out in a few months. Write down the premiere date, cancel your plan now and start it back up in a few months. And once you’ve finished your show, you still have the rest of the month to check out anything else new Netflix may have to offer. This may sound like a hassle, but it could save you a lot of money.
I used this tactic during the holidays this year. We already had Hulu and Netflix running, but their Christmas movie selections were limited, so I paid for FrndlyTV for the month of December as well. I was able to stream all of the new Hallmark Christmas movies, plus many of their older ones. Once December was over, I cancelled the subscription because I didn’t need it anymore. We also used this tactic with Apple TV+. We were in a show rut and wanted to watch Ted Lasso. We signed up for a month of Apple TV+, watched the show and then cancelled because nothing else caught our eye.
The only show that we are currently interested in is WandaVision, so we only have Disney+ for the months of February and March. Disney+ has a lot of new content coming in the next several weeks, so we are very happy with it.
Just Keep Your Favorites
I’m not suggesting you completely cut all your streaming services or that it’s not okay to keep a subscription all year round. It’s totally fine to keep a subscription going because you use it often. For example, I never turn off Disney+. My girls watch a Disney movie or show almost every day, so there really is no point in ever turning it off. Plus, the amount of content on that app that interests me is infinite. If you watch Grey’s Anatomy or Friends in the background often, then you should probably have Netflix or HBO Max. It’s not a waste of money if you actively use it! All I’m saying is that a lot of us are out here spending an extra $100+ a year on streaming services we barely use.
When I talk about switching out streaming services like this people often tell me that it seems like a hassle or too much to keep up with, but to me it’s worth it. If I paid for Netflix and Hulu together all year (for just the Basic plans) I’d be paying $108 per year for Netflix and $72 for Hulu. That’s $180 per year for 2 streaming services! But, if I only pay for 6 months of each, that’s $90 per year for both streaming services. That’s nearly $100 in savings by just spending a few minutes turning off your accounts!
There are so many options out there for streaming services. My chart of streaming services compared, paired with my tips for saving money on streaming, can help you decide what services are right for you and when. There’s no point in wasting time and money on services that barely get used or that don’t have what you’re looking for.