For most of the last fifty or sixty years, watching television meant heading to your living room and sitting down with your family or friends, likely at specific times throughout the week, on a dedicated TV.
Nowadays, when you say you’re going to go watch TV, you could be heading for the TV room like you always did, or you could be reaching for your phone, tablet, computer, Fire stick, PlayStation remote, and much more. Thanks to online streaming, nearly any device can be considered a television, and this represents just one of the many dramatic changes that have taken place in how we watch TV.
However, while streaming is wonderfully convenient, and it’s difficult to imagine life without it, choosing the right service can be really hard, especially since there are so many out there that each offer you something slightly different. Of course, in a perfect world, you could get access to all the services, but this would run you more than $60 per month and isn’t really practical for most people.
Choosing the right streaming service for you is easy, though, when you know what it is you’re looking for and how much you are willing to spend.
Below you will find all you need to know about the different services that are out there so that you can pick the one that makes the most sense for you.

Netflix

Netflix is the name in online streaming, largely because they were the first company to offer it in any meaningful way. It remains an excellent option, but it’s best for people who are looking for the best possible original content they can get from a streaming service.
This is because Netflix has becoming more of a production studio than a streaming service; in 2020, they plan to spend more than $17 billion creating new content, and all of this money means the best actors and directors, and, at least up until now, it also means the best content.
As a result, if you’re looking for a streaming service that is going to give you a constant supply of new shows and movies to watch that you can’t get anywhere else, then you’ll definitely want to go with Netflix.
However, know that Netflix is the most expensive streaming service, especially if you go for the HDR version that lets you stream at the highest quality. But it still only costs around $15, which, if this is your only streaming service, is still a good deal.
Plus, if you are a fan of network TV and want a service that will help you keep up, Netflix likely isn’t going to be for you. New seasons of network shows aren’t usually available – assuming they are part of Netflix’s licensing agreement – until almost a year later, which is going to be far too long for some people.

Hulu

For those looking for a cheaper option that focuses more on network television, then Hulu is the streaming service for you. The cheapest plan you can get costs just $5.99 per month (or free if you also have Spottily Premium), but this version does include advertisements. If you don’t want ads, you will need to pay $11.99 per month, which is still cheaper than Netflix.
However, know that Hulu is not the place to go if you’re looking for original content. It’s got some good stuff – such as the award-winning show The Handmaid’s Tale – but the focus at Hulu is on shows currently airing on television. New episodes are made available to stream within a day after they have aired on TV.
In addition, Hulu has a live TV option as well as several other add-on packages that can help you get more out of your TV experience. Of course, you need to pay for this, and if you go with Hulu Live you could be looking at around $60 per month. But, for some, this makes Hulu a viable alternative to cable.

Amazon Prime

The other major name in the streaming world is Amazon Prime. However, if you’re really after the best possible streaming service, you may want to look elsewhere. There is some original content, including hits such as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, but, in general, the selection is quite a bit weaker.
To get access to recently aired network shoes, you need to pay for them, either by episode or for the whole season, which can get costly quite quick.
However, Amazon Prime has some of the best quality videos of all the streaming services, and the extra benefits you get, such as cloud storage, free two-day delivery on tons of items, discounts galore on Amazon, free grocery delivery in participating locations, music streaming, and much more. These benefits, which come at a modest cost of $13 per month or $119 per year, are exciting enough on their own. The streaming component is really just an add-on.
So, Amazon Prime is best for those who think they will get use out of these Amazon benefits, but not necessarily for TV buffs looking for the best possible service they can get for their money.

Disney+

After waiting on the sidelines for years as other companies put their content on their streaming platforms, Disney has finally gotten into the game – it launched Disney+, its own proprietary streaming service, in November of 2019.
It includes, obviously, all original Disney content, but it also has Pixar, Lucasfilm (Star Wars), and Marvel (think: The Avengers), which makes for a pretty exciting catalog. It’s also got a lot of content from its TV outlet, The Disney Channel.
Disney is also investing heavily in new content, with its first program being The Mandalorian, the first ever live-action Star Wars television show (they’ve done cartoons before but nothing with real people). More shows are expected, including several superhero-related programs that are sure to be popular.
However, while the Disney+ has a rather large catalog, its audience is most definitely families with younger children. This doesn’t mean you won’t find something to watch if you don’t have or aren’t a kid, but you will find a lot of the programming that’s not relevant to you.
If you do think Disney+ would be good for you, you can get it right now for just $6.99 per month, although it’s widely speculated this is an introductory rate that will go up in the next year or so.

HBO Now

HBO Now is a standalone streaming service that gives you access to all HBO programming. It’s different from HBO Go, which is the streaming service that comes with your standard HBO subscription, in that you don’t need an HBO subscription to get it. It costs $14.99 per month.
This is a great service if you’re a big fan of HBO programming past and present. Current hits include The Watchmen, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and The Outsider, but don’t forget classics such as The Sopranos, The Wire, Game of Thrones, and Boardwalk Empire.
This is a great service at a decent price, but again, it only gives you access to HBO shows.

Other Options

If none of these options are appealing to you, then consider some of these:
       Hoopla and Kanopy are free streaming services that work through your public library membership and give you access to tons of titles, although there are some limits on how much you can watch.
       Crackle TV is another free streaming service that has a surprising amount of good content.
       The Criterion Channel and The Warner Archive give you access to tons of classic movies.
       Crunchyroll is the go-to streaming service for anime enthusiasts
       Shudder and Screambox are great for horror film buffs

Stream Away

As you can see, to decide which streaming service is best for you, it’s important to know what it is you want to watch. The more specific you are, the more niche of a service you will need to get. For general TV watchers, Netflix and/or Hulu are probably going to do the trick, but if these don’t appeal to you, spend some time digging and you’ll soon find a service that’s worth your time and money.