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“The Secret Streaming Services Everyone is Talking About (and How to Access Them)

What is the best overall streaming service?
Netflix stood out as our top choice among all the streaming services we put to the test. It has a reliable, user-friendly interface, a range of features and a diverse, ever-changing catalog. It consistently adds new originals from around the world, and you can even find titles using secret codes. The addition of an ad-based tier makes it even more affordable compared with rivals Disney Plus and Max. Other high-quality streaming services are available, so although Netflix is currently our first choice, it may not align with your budget or preferences.

Streaming services have undergone major changes in the past three years alone in terms of price, content and features. With our extensive best list, which includes Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus and Max, we can help you select which platforms are right for you. We’ve reviewed each of these streaming services individually and assigned numeric ratings based on catalogs; app design and features; and overall value. Some judgments are based on our personal tastes for content, so note that if you love a specific show or style of show, you may have a different favorite. And if you want to go beyond on-demand platforms, check out our lineup of the best live TV streaming services.

Best streaming services of 2024Best streaming service overall
Netflix
There’s a reason why Netflix has become shorthand for streaming in general. The former movie rental service evolved into the top-tier streaming app that’s a must-have in 2024, even if you’re paying extra to share your password. When big originals like The Witcher or Stranger Things drop, they grab the attention of millions of viewers along with critical praise and awards, giving us the closest thing we have to water cooler conversations these days.

The streamer offers a wide variety of familiar network shows and more original series, films, documentaries and specials than any of its competitors. New shows and movies arrive each week. And the company doesn’t mind catering to different tastes with gaming options and categories for kids, anime and foreign-language titles from all over the globe.

Starting at $7 a month for an ad-supported account and $15.50 monthly for the standard ad-free plan, its price is in the middle of the TV service pack. While the $23 premium option gives you 4K content and four screens, both standard plans — with or without ads — include HD and two simultaneous streams. For the variety you get, it’s still a top pick.

Pros:

Simple interface that’s easy to navigate
Solid recommendation system
Abundant catalog of licensed movies, shows and originals including Stranger Things, Wednesday
Cons:

Expensive subscription plans
Fee for extra membersBest streaming service for family-friendly content
Disney Plus
Disney Plus is one of Netflix’s closest competitors for good reason. It’s the only place where you can stream the vast majority of the Disney and Pixar libraries, along with every Star Wars movie, Marvel films, new original TV shows, National Geographic content and 30-plus seasons of The Simpsons. Shows like The Mandalorian, Loki, Andor and She-Hulk, have drawn millions of viewers, while features such as Avatar 2 and Encanto won rave reviews. Plus, there’s lots more Star Wars and Marvel original programming coming in the next few years.

At the current price of $8 per month for the ad-based plan, Disney Plus is still one of the least expensive streaming TV choices and a great value. We consider it a must-have if you have kids or are a fan of any of its other titles (and who isn’t a fan of Baby Yoda?).

The premium ad-free version costs $14 monthly, but Disney has four bundles that range from $10 to $25 per month. Duo Basic is a $10-per-month plan that combines Disney Plus and Hulu with ads, ad-free Duo Premium costs $20 per month. For $15 monthly, the Disney Bundle Trio Basic comes with Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus, all with ads. A $25-per-month Trio Premium bundle nets you all three streaming platforms, and only ESPN Plus has ads.

Pros:

Huge library that includes Guardians of the Galaxy, The Mandalorian and Encanto
Reasonably priced bundles
Adjustable content rating system
Cons:

Extended waits for new or original releasesBest streaming service for premium content like House of the Dragon
Max
Max is an updated app full of popular TV shows and movies. It has HBO’s entire library, DC Universe titles, along with favorites such as Friends, the Lord of the Rings movies and almost every Studio Ghibli film. It’s the primary destination for new Warner Bros.-owned feature films. It’s not Disney Plus, but Max has a solid streaming collection for kids too, with the ability to control ratings on kids’ profiles better than most other services.

At $10 per month, it sits next to Netflix at the higher end of the streaming spectrum, and if you prefer the ad-free experience, the cost jumps up to $16 or $20 per month. Max is ramping up its new originals, and we expect that to increase over time. With the addition of Discovery Plus unscripted content, there’s more to stream. Although its 8.0 rating is neck-and-neck with Prime Video, Max consistently drops new releases, possesses a large back catalog and offers smooth, user-friendly features. The platform also offers a live sports tier, B/R sports, as part of its current package, but the optional add-on will cost an additional $10 per month later this year.

Pros:

Slick interface
Loads of content for all audiences. Titles include Euphoria, The White Lotus and House of the Dragon
Reliable, customizable parental controls
Cons:

Pricier subscriptions, even with adsBest budget streaming service for the price
Hulu
For $8 per month (with ads), Hulu is a perfect complement and counterpoint to Netflix. Its channel lineup has a huge variety of familiar shows from networks like ABC, Fox and FX that you can watch soon after they air (unlike on Netflix), as well as a growing catalog of its own critically acclaimed original series like The Handmaid’s Tale and Only Murders in the Building. If you have $8 a month to spare and don’t mind trading a few ads for a wealth of TV options, Hulu is a no-brainer. You’ve also got the option to upgrade to a no-ads plan for $18 a month or add on live TV streaming for $77 a month for a full cable replacement.

Pros:

Low monthly price
Access to network shows and originals including Abbott Elementary, The Handmaid’s Tale, Love Island
New episodes are available almost immediately
Option to get the Disney Bundle
Cons:

Smaller catalog of originals than its rivals
Menus are sometimes hard to navigate
Glitches on occasion

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