If you’re thinking of cutting the cord on your cable subscription, you’re not alone. Recent data shows that the number of U.S. consumers using online streaming services soared from 45% in 2013 to a whopping 82% in 2020.
But with the explosion of video streaming services available on the market today, you may not know which is the best option for you—or whether you should opt for more than one.
In this story, we break down the cost, basics of each, and how pricing has changed for some of the most popular video streaming services.
Cost: After a free trial month, it costs $8.99/month for the basic plan, $12.99/month for standard, and $15.99/month for the premium subscription. In 2018, those same plans were $7.99/month, $10.99/month, and $13.99/month, respectively.
The Basics: Netflix has been the king of streaming services in recent years with more than 167 million subscribers around the world, and with good reason. This platform offers something for everyone, from sci-fi thrillers to period dramas and political documentaries to binge-worthy classic sitcoms. While this platform offers one of the wider varieties of shows to watch, it’s fully aware of its popularity. Price hikes are expected, and often. They also tend to pull shows and movies occasionally: Think “Friends,” “Black Panther,” and “The L Word.”
Cost: Prices range from $5.99/month for the basic plan to $11.99/month for no ads, to $54.99/month for Hulu + Live TV, and $60.99/month for Hulu + Live TV with no ads. In 2018, the cost of the basic plan was actually a bit higher, at $7.99/month. But in early 2019, the streaming service announced its new lower price of $5.99/month, along with a price increase for its Live TV option, to $54.99.
The Basics: At just $5.99/month for its basic package, Hulu is definitely one of the more affordable video streaming options. But that comes with a price, so to speak—you’ll have to watch ads during your binge sessions. It offers a good mix of new and old shows for streaming, plus some options for kids.
Cost: $6.99/month for Disney+, $12.99/month for Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN bundle.
The Basics: Disney+ made its grand entrance into the video streaming market in the U.S. and a few other countries on Nov. 12, 2019, and has made a splash since, accumulating 28.6 million subscribers since its launch. Access content from not just Disney, but also Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, and National Geographic.
Cost: $54.99/month for the fubo standard package, $59.99/month for the family package, $69.99/month for the family package plus Showtime, and $79.99/month for the ultra package, plus add-ons like family share for $5.99/month, Showtime for $10.99/month, or $19.99/month for Fútbol quarterly. When it launched in 2015, Fubo cost just $7/month.
The Basics: This video streaming service is ideal for sports lovers, or perhaps those who think they can’t go without traditional cable TV. That’s because it offers more than 100 local channels, sports, entertainment, news, and even a Cloud-based DVR. While fuboTV started out as a soccer-specific streaming service, it’s now expanded to support all kinds of viewers, from those who need their nightly news fix to others who can’t live without their HGTV shows.
Cost: Choose between the Sling Orange package or the Sling Blue package for $20/month (for the first month). After that, the price for each goes up to $30/month, or $45/month for both. You can also add extras like sports, comedy, news, Spanish-language TV, or lifestyle channels for $5 to $10/month each. The two packages were each $25/month in 2018, while the dual package rang in at $40/month.
The Basics: Sling TV is one of the most affordable live video streaming services available. It’s also a popular choice among cord-cutters, because it offers many of the live TV channels you’ll miss without cable, including HGTV, AMC, CNN, A&E, and the History Channel on Sling Orange, and Bravo, TLC, E!, Comedy Central, and National Geographic via Sling Blue.
Cost: The first seven days are free, then it’s $14.99/month. This price has stayed fairly static since 2018.
The Basics: HBO’s streaming service is the one-stop shop for viewers who can’t get enough of HBO’s insightful series, documentaries, and of course, movies. This streaming service has around 8 million subscribers. Keep in mind that this service is the standalone version of HBO GO, which comes in addition to your television package when you subscribe to HBO.
Amazon Prime Video
Cost: This video streaming service is included with an Amazon Prime membership, currently $119/annually or $59/annually for students.
The Basics: Like more than 100 million others in the U.S., you probably already have an Amazon Prime membership. But are you getting the most for your money? If you’re not taking advantage of the online marketplace’s video streaming offerings, then likely not. Like competitor Netflix, Amazon Prime video offers a wide variety of content, from original series to HBO series, even popular movies and shows for kids. It also offers some live sports, another draw.
Cost: $4.99/month, after a seven-day free trial. Free streaming for a year is available for those who purchased a new Apple device on Sept. 10, 2019, or later.
The Basics: Apple TV+ is Apple’s answer to the live streaming trend; This video streaming service came out Nov. 1, 2019, and since its launch, had amassed more than 33 million subscribers. It’s different from other services because its content is all original. This streaming service is compatible with all Apple devices.
While subscribing to the right streaming service for you could be confusing, here’s what we found—the most cost-effective option offering the widest swath of viewing choices is probably Hulu, though if you’re looking to replace your cable altogether, Sling TV is a good bet. For options for kids, you won’t beat Disney+, and for adults, Netflix or Apple TV+ are also solid choices, without breaking the bank.