Big changes are coming to your favorite streaming services.
Apple is reportedly planning to sell subscriptions to certain video services directly in the Apple TV app, instead of having users buy subscriptions from third parties. From there, Apple could then move to have streaming be entirely in-app as well. The tech giant is also slated to roll out original shows next March.
Meanwhile, several TV and music services are teaming up to offer a more comprehensive streaming experience. Hulu and Spotify, for instance, have teamed up to offer a $12.99 per month bundled subscription for access to Hulu’s Limited Commercials plan and Spotify Premium. Industry rivals Philo TV and Pandora are offering a similar deal: You can get three free months of Pandora Premium thrown into the mix with either of Philo TV’s two main subscription plans.
In no particular order, here is a list of the pros, cons, and what to watch for each of the most popular streaming services:
Plans: For $7.99 a month, subscribers can access the Hulu Streaming Library. For $39.99 a month, viewers have access to the Hulu With Live TV plan, which features more than 50 live and on-demand channels and allows streaming on two screens simultaneously. Add-ons like enhanced cloud DVR, unlimited screens, and no commercials are also available.
Pros: Users can create up to six personal viewer profiles with one subscription. And, if you’re watching a current season, you won’t have to wait long: Episodes are usually available the day after they air. Hulu’s originals, like The Handmaid’s Tale, have their fair share of fans, too. The service leads the industry in simultaneous streaming: Users have the option to stream on unlimited screens at the same time at home and three on the go.
Cons: Those unlimited screens come at an extra cost. Available only to Hulu With Live TV subscribers, the add-on costs an additional $14.99 per month, nearly twice the price of the basic subscription itself. One of users’ biggest gripes with the service is that it doesn’t allow for offline viewing. A lot of subscribers also recommend the no commercials add-on.
What to watch: Small Business Revolution on Main Street. Hosted by Shark Tank star Robert Herjavec and marketing expert Amanda Brinkman, the show documents a $500,000 investment in one town and six of its small businesses each season.
Plans: For $7.99 a month, viewers can watch in standard definition on one device at a time with the Basic plan. The $10.99 per month Standard plan throws in high definition and one more device for simultaneous streaming. The Premium plan goes for $13.99 per month, provides ultra high definition, and lets you stream on up to four screens at once.
Pros: Tied with Hulu for the cheapest base subscription on our list, Netflix gains a slight edge over the competition by not charging an added fee to remove ads. Unlike some of the services on our list, Netflix allows you to download shows to watch offline. Its original content, like the Stranger Things franchise, also draws a big crowd.
Cons: You might get impatient waiting for new episodes to be available on Netflix after they air. On the other end of the spectrum, old seasons are taken down when Netflix’s license to show them expires.
What to watch: Something Ventured. The 2011 documentary takes a look at the growth of American venture capitalism and its influence on companies like Apple and Intel.
Plans: The base plan, Sling Orange, gives viewers more than 25 channels for $20 per month. You can get Sling Blue and the more than 40 channels that come with it for an extra $5 per month. For the best of both worlds, get the Sling Orange + Sling Blue plan, which comes with more than 50 channels for $40 per month.
Pros: Sling TV offers a sizable variety of add-ons, including country- and language-specific packages. You can get 50 hours of cloud DVR recording for $5 per month.
Cons: Offline viewing is out of the question, even if you have the cloud DVR add-on. Network sports broadcasts are pretty hard to come by with Sling TV. The price per channel may not get you the most bang for your buck. (Think of FuboTV, for example: Its Premier plan is an extra $5 per month but also gets you at least 20 more channels.)
What to watch: The Profit. Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis is a one-man Shark Tank, investing in small businesses in the CNBC show.
4. HBO Now
Plans: This service (not to be confused with HBO Go, which requires a television subscription) runs for $14.99 per month.
Pros: One cool perk is you can watch your shows in virtual reality on the HBO Now VR app. You also won’t have to sit through any ads.
Cons: One drawback is that the service doesn’t allow you to download shows to watch offline. And the content is limited to what’s on the network’s channels. Your simultaneous streams are also limited, but the company doesn’t offer a specific cap on the number of devices.
What to watch: Silicon Valley. The comedy series follows a computer programmer and his friends as they try to start their own company in the Bay Area tech hub.
Plans: If you already have an Amazon Prime subscription, you’re in luck. Amazon Prime Video comes included for Prime members. If you aren’t an Amazon Prime customer, you can subscribe to the video service alone for $8.99 per month.
Pros: The service has a surprisingly large collection of titles.
Cons: You can only stream on up to two devices at once, however. There also isn’t much room for personalization, since you can’t create multiple accounts under the same subscription.
What to watch: Freakonomics: The Movie. Based on the best-selling book, the documentary looks into incentive-based thinking through several case studies.
6. YouTube TV
Plans: The only plan available costs $40 per month, with add-ons like the Showtime network available for an additional monthly fee.
Pros: One benefit is unlimited DVR storage. Your recorded programs will be saved for up to nine months, compared with only about a month on some other streaming services. With more than 50 networks plus local news and sports, YouTube TV’s offerings are greater than most of the others on our list. Also, you can create up to six accounts with your subscription, and you can stream on up to three devices at once.
Cons: Variety comes at a pretty penny, though. YouTube TV is tied with PlayStation Vue for the most expensive base subscription on our list. And many programs show ads.
What to watch: Mind Field. In this YouTube Red series, Vsauce channel creator Michael Stevens takes a deep dive into the science behind human behavior.
Plans: You can get 37 channels for $16 per month, or 46 channels for $20 per month. Channel add-ons are available for an extra $4 per month.
Pros: Viewers can watch on up to three devices at once, or use a cloud DVR service to record shows to watch up to 30 days later.
Cons: Sports fans, beware. Philo TV doesn’t offer any cable sports (or local) networks. And, if you want to watch your shows on a TV instead of a laptop or other device, you had better have a Roku–it’s the only streaming device that supports Philo TV.
What to watch: Save It or Sell It. On the A&E show, hosts Robert Hirsch and Eric Casaburi give struggling small businesses advice, while the business owners decide whether to save or sell their companies.
8. PlayStation Vue
Plans: For $39.99 per month, users get more than 40 channels of popular live TV with the Access plan. One step higher up the ladder is the Core plan, which adds sports to the mix for a total of $44.99 per month. The $54.99 per month Elite plan throws in movies, and the priciest subscription is the $74.99 per month Ultra plan, which includes all of the above plus premium networks like HBO and Showtime, for a total of more than 90 networks.
Pros: Local broadcasts are included. Viewers also have the option to purchase channel add-ons by themselves, no subscription necessary. They can also watch on up to five devices at once.
Cons: PlayStation Vue has the most expensive plans on this list. And if you record shows, be sure to watch them before they’re deleted from your storage in 28 days.
What to watch: Relative Success With Tabatha. In the series, Tabatha Coffey, star of the Bravo TV show Tabatha Takes Over, helps businesses plagued by family drama.
9. Pluto TV
Plans: None. Pluto TV is 100 percent free to use.
Pros: As the only entirely free service on our list, Pluto TV offers more than 100 channels, no subscription necessary. Besides TV and movies, the platform even features internet radio stations and videos. The streaming service is compatible with many devices, including smart televisions like Vizio TVs or connected TV devices like Amazon Fire TVs.
Cons: The catch? You can’t avoid ads. Also, take the large channel library with a grain of salt: Because internet videos make up some of the service’s content, some channels run on cat videos, for example.
What to watch: Closing Bell. The show airs on video news network Cheddar and takes you to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange every morning for the latest market news.
Plans: Its English-language subscription plan, Fubo Premier, comes at a discounted rate of $19.99 for the first month, but then rises to $44.99 for each month after that. There’s also a Fubo Latino plan for $17.99 per month and a Fubo Português plan for $19.99 per month.
Pros: The service offers an impressive 85 channels on the Premier plan as well as add-on channel packages. Fubo Premier subscribers can record and save up to 30 hours of programming with cloud DVR, or splurge on 500 hours for an additional $9.99 per month. The best part? The recordings are saved for as long as you want.
Cons: For a service that started as a soccer streaming service and continues to heavily target sports fans, it’s disappointing that FuboTV doesn’t offer some major sports networks, like ESPN. And, since it falls on the more expensive side of the list, your wallet might have a bone to pick with you for that $45 outlay every month.
What to watch: Jungletown. The Viceland series follows entrepreneur Jimmy Stice as he leads a group in trying to build a sustainable modern town in the thick of the Panamanian jungle.