Best Streaming Services in 2021
Whether you’re looking to find the best collection of classic sit-coms, massive collections of superhero movies, or the latest and greatest television series, each streaming service has a little something going for it. The best streaming services are typically defined by the content it houses, alongside how often it’s putting out original shows or films.Disney+ for example makes its new entries a massive event, normally with a ton of social media buzz surrounding it, while Netflix has become a powerhouse of original hits, with something new hitting the service almost every week. Whatever the case, we’ve broken down all the current top streaming services, and given an in-depth look into what makes them great, and why you might want to sign up soon.
TL;DR – The Best Streaming Services
Best Streaming Service for Blockbuster Hits
Disney+ encompasses the majority of all currently owned Disney properties, including Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, Fox, and a whole lot more. Not only do you get access to the massive catalogue of films these all pack, but Disney are also committed to releasing brand new TV shows and films to the service regularly. Maybe not as regularly as Netflix for example, but recently you can’t go long before another smash hits rolls into town. You can read more in our review of Disney+.
You’ve got an absolute smash hit with Star Wars: The Mandalorian, and most recently WandaVision and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, both entries from the powerhouse that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We’ve also seen several Pixar films hit the service recently, and there’s a whole lot more on the way. If you’re looking for a top tier streaming service with more than enough content to sink your teeth into, alongside some of the most exciting new TV shows to look forward to, then Disney+ should be an easy entry into your streaming service collection.
Best Streaming Service for Original Content
You can’t think streaming service without thinking of Netflix in 2021. With over 200 million subscribers at the last count, the service goes from strength to strength every single year. While it’s moved away from each new homemade Netflix addition being a big event, there’s still so much content to consume in the Netflix library, and it always tends to catch you out and bring back something spectacular like The Lord of the Ring Trilogy or Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse. You can read more in our review of Netflix.
That’s not to say there still aren’t huge hits housed under the Netflix umbrella, one of which, quite poignantly, is Umbrella Academy. You’ve also got the likes of Stranger Things, Bridgerton, Mindhunter, Lucifer, Sex Education, and a slew of more exciting films and TV shows. There’s always something new and interesting in the works, so you can rest easy knowing at least something will be available to watch on the world’s biggest streaming platform.
3. HBO Max
Best Streaming Service for Brand New Films
HBO Max hasn’t been around for very long, but you can be sure it’s made a significant impact in the streaming and film industry as a whole. You might well already know HBO Max from The Snyder Cut (Zack Snyder’s Justice League), and there’s a whole lot more heading towards the service this year. You can read more in our review of HBO Max.
HBO Max is breaking a lot of tradition and showing brand new blockbuster films, at no extra cost to users. From Godzilla vs Kong to The Suicide Squad, Mortal Kombat, Dune, and a whole lot more, this is a pretty huge deal. At $14.99 per month, even signing up when the new film releases is arguably worth it if you’re planning to go with even just one other person. Of course, nothing can beat the experience of movie theatres, but it is hard to turn down a cheap and comfortable viewing of some of these massive films.
4. Amazon Prime Video
Best Streaming Services that Includes Even More
Amazon Prime Video is a remarkably strong contender when it comes to the best streaming services, and this is simply down to the fact it comes packed in with Amazon Prime at no extra cost. So if you’re already paying for Prime to take advantage of everything else the service has to offer, you’ve also got Amazon Prime Video sitting comfortably with a decent library of content. You can read more in our review of Amazon Prime Video.
One of the most popular series to hit the service is definitely The Boys, starring Karl Urban as the mouthy Billy Butcher, featuring a seemingly different take on the caped crusaders that you might find on the likes of Disney+ or HBO Max.
Best Streaming Service for Cord-Cutters
It’s a Disney owed service, but it’s not Disney+. Albeit, you can actually get a membership which includes both the services in one. Content-wise, however, a couple of things stand out when it comes to Hulu. Firstly, it spends pretty much the very least when it comes to producing content like the other “top” streamer like Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, and HBO Max. But while there are still some hits on Hulu that resonated with audiences, it seems like it isn’t the sole reason many users still subscribe to the service. You can read more in our review of Hulu.
Hulu has become one of the absolute go-to services of cord-cutters. It has the cheapest monthly service, where you have to watch a few ads, and allows users to watch actual broadcast television shows the morning after they air. So, if you’re still into the programming on ABC, NBC, and FOX – along with corporate cable sibling channels like Adult Swim, FX, USA, Disney Channel, Food Network, and many more – this is the closest you’ll get to cable without having cable.
New Kids on the Block
CBS All Access is now Paramount+, and a new rebrand for the streaming service brings all-new content to check out before considering signing up for the service. Paramount+ is very new and has yet to shape itself too much to know exactly how it’s going to influence the great streaming wars, but it’s definitely worth a mention as it sets out to challenge the big hitters going forward. You can read more in our review of Paramount+.
Currently, Paramount+ is available in the US, Canada, and Latin America, and hosts a massive media library of more than 30,000 television episodes, 2,500 movie titles, and over 1,000 live sporting events annually. It’s also the new host for all things under the ViacomCBS banner: BET, CBS, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, and the Smithsonian Channel. There are plenty of titles to stream from a variety of genres. If you’re in the mood for action, Paramount+ has three of Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible films and all four Indiana Jones titles. On the classic film front, some highlights include To Catch a Thief, the Godfather trilogy, and Chinatown.
7. Apple TV+
Best Streaming Service for iPhone Users
The biggest draw to Apple TV+ at the moment is typically new iPhone owners, who are typically gifted with a year of free Apple TV+ service alongside their new purchase (check out where and how to watch Apple TV+ here). It may lack a little when it comes to core content, but what Apple TV+ does have going for it, besides its potential 1.4 billion iPhone user base, is its user interface.
The tech giant has already proved over the years that it knows how to build an impressive UX, and Apple TV+ is no different. It’s seamless, it’s smooth, and it’s easy to use. Plus, at $4.99 per month, including a 7-day trial, it’s a pretty cheap and easy to access streaming service for what you get. You can read more in our Apple TV+ review.
8. Peacock Streaming
Streaming for Free, Until You Can’t
The most noticeable difference between Peacock and the rest of its competitors is the free (with ads) tier that gives access to an impressive 13,000 hours of the library, before asking you for $4.99 for ad-supported access to everything or $9.99 for the whole lot. You can read more in our Peacock review.
What Should I Look for in a Streaming Service?
Streaming services can vary in a lot of different ways, and when it comes down to it there’s a lot of factors that are purely personal preference. If you really like The Office, and Netflix has the Office, then Netflix is likely to be your streamer of choice. But, there are still a few other contributing elements to streaming services that you’ll want to consider before giving them your hard-earned cash.
Free trials are an easy one to start with. A previous staple in the streaming market has now seemingly become a bit of a rarity. Disney+ originally had a free trial, but it no longer does, and even new streaming services like HBO Max aren’t making free trials available. Free trials are great, but the industry seems to be shying away as it becomes more profitable to release ‘the next biggest thing’ and ensure that everyone who wants to watch is definitely paying for the hosting service. These days, you’ll find more streaming services with free access memberships, such as Hulu or Peacock, that utilize a lot of ads to supplement your free experience.
User experience is another key factor and one that is forgettable if it’s good, but aggravating if noticeable. For example, the likes of Netflix and Disney+ have superb UX as the menus are quick, seamless, and give you as much info as you need. Whereas others such as HBO Max or Amazon tend to lag behind, especially on mobile devices. Other than that, it really comes down to content and how much you’re paying overall for the service. As we mentioned previously, if you’re paying $14.99 a month for HBO Max and get to see the latest and greatest cinema releases like Godzilla vs Kong, or Mortal Kombat, then it can be well worth it. But, if you’re watching just watching two seasons of an old sit-com where the box set costs less than the streaming subscription, then maybe rethink your decision.