Best Streaming Services 2021
To find the best streaming service, we evaluated price, channels, on-demand content, user interface, and DVR storage–and boy, it was tough.
Our top five streaming services are all great options, but one may better suit you than the other. And we’re here to help you make that decision.
Our list consists of three live TV streaming services (fuboTV, YouTube TV, and Sling TV) and on-demand streaming services (Netflix and Hulu). Do you want live channels and some on-demand content, or would you like a big library of on-demand content that you can stream whenever you’d like?
Let’s dive into the details to find the best service for you.
|Monthly price||Available channels||Learn more|
What to look for in a streaming service
There are two types of streaming services on the market: live TV and on-demand.
If you no longer want to pay for a cable or satellite TV bill, a live TV streaming service might be the best option for you. If you’re going to binge-watch TV series and movies, you’ll be satisfied with an on-demand service.
Streaming services that work best for consumers include:
- A fair number of channels or on-demand content
- An affordable price for the number of channels or content you receive
- A good variety of channels/content
- Sufficient DVR storage space (live TV)
- Add-ons and subscriptions (live TV)
When choosing the best live TV streaming service for you, the first thing you want to consider is price. How much are you willing to spend on a live TV service?
For example, Sling TV is the best for money-savers, YouTube TV is average pricing, and fuboTV is the most expensive.
With that, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Sling TV will have the least number of channels while fuboTV will have the most (and make sure you get a variety you like).
As of right now, the average DVR storage space for live TV streaming services is about 500 hours. You might not need this much space and you might find Sling TV’s 50-hour storage space as insufficient.
When choosing an on-demand streaming service, you’ll also want to get the most with your money. Netflix is the priciest on-demand service when you upgrade, but you’ll have access to 15,000 titles.
You also have to make sure the on-demand streaming service has a decent variety of content, such as network TV shows, original series, movies, and original films.
Want to read more?
fuboTV has the best value among all live TV streaming services
Get over 100 channels, a big DVR storage, and on-demand content
|Plan||Price||TV channel count||Details|
|Latino Quarterly||$33‡||30+||View Plans|
What we like about fuboTV
- fuboTV offers over 100 channels with both plans
- It has (arguably) the best user interface
Lots of entertainment with a great variety of channels
fuboTV offers more channels than any other live TV streaming service in the industry.
That means you’ll get various channels for news, sports, lifestyle, kids, and entertainment. But one part that makes fuboTV stand out is the number of sports channels you’ll get access to, both national and international.
Here’s a sneak peek of the channel lineups to understand better which one is best for you.
fuboTV’s Starter package includes the following channels:
- Big Ten Network
- Disney Channel
- ESPN, ESPN2
- Food Network
- FOX News
- FS1, FS2
- Hallmark Channel
- NBC Sports Network
- NFL Network
fuboTV’s Elite package includes all of the above channels and the following:
- BBC World News
- The Cooking Channel
- MLB Network
- Nat Geo Wild
- NBA TV
- PAC-12 Networks
- Sony Movie Channel
- Tennis Channel
- Zona Fútbol
fuboTV has a sleek interface
fuboTV wins at the interface game. fuboTV has a unique interface that is easy to navigate and quickly helps you find something you want to watch. Here are a few examples of why.
First, when you open up your home page, you’ll find six tabs at the top to get you to what you want within seconds. Other services usually just have three.
Second, if you’re a sports fan, you’ll like this feature.
The Sports tab recommends featured sports shows and events. As you scroll down, you’ll find a mini guide of events happening today (or you can change the date).
And third, fuboTV’s guide is so seamless and convenient.
The guide has a drop-down menu on the left to change the date. Choose a genre of channels you’d like to browse, and use the search bar at the top to get to your favorite TV network with a few taps.
What we don’t like about fuboTV
- If it had an unlimited DVR storage space, it could be a 5-star service
fuboTV’s DVR storage is second best to YouTube TV’s
fuboTV has made enormous changes to its service over the years, and it has recently become our number one choice.
One of those great changes was increasing the Cloud DVR storage. fuboTV raised its DVR storage to 250-1,000 hours of storage from 30 hours.
Instead of just recording 15 TV shows and about six movies, you can now record at least 75 TV episodes and nearly 30 films.
YouTube TV is the Editor’s Choice
YouTube TV might come in second, but it’s undeniably excellent
What we like about YouTube TV
- YouTube TV has an outstanding variety of channels
- This live TV streaming service has an unlimited DVR storage
YouTube TV has most of the channels you love
YouTube TV comes in at a close second because it has a variety of channels most families want.
Although it’s the same price as fuboTV’s Starter package (which has about 20 more channels), YouTube TV is the only live TV streaming service that offers NFL Network, MLB Network, and NBA TV in its lineup for $65 per month.
If you’re a major sports watcher, YouTube TV might be the best option for you. And of course, this service has channels for the kiddos and the roommate who loves reality TV.
Check out the full YouTube TV channel lineup to see if it has the channels you and the house can enjoy, but some channels include the following:
- Animal Planet
- Cartoon Network
- Disney Channel
- ESPN, ESPN2
- FS1, FS2
- MLB Network
- NBA TV
- NFL Network
- SEC Network
Enjoy that unlimited DVR storage space
The DVR’s unlimited storage space is a feature that plays into the value of YouTube TV.
No other streaming service gives you an unlimited DVR storage space, and your recordings will save for nine months.
You can record all episodes from The Office and Friends, as well as all the movies your heart desires.
The DVR comes in handy during game season too. You can record a great NFL football game one season, save it, and watch it again during the summer when you’re missing the gridiron action.
What we don’t like about YouTube TV
- No Hallmark, HISTORY, or Tennis Channel
YouTube TV is missing a few channels, but it might not be a big deal
Bad news for Hallmark movie junkies, Ancient Aliens fans, and Rodger Federer followers–you can’t get your fix with YouTube TV, unfortunately.
But if you do go the YouTube TV route, we have some solutions:
- The Roku Channel and Pluto TV can help those who need their Hallmark and HISTORY Channel content. Find more information about these two services in our best free streaming services review.
- There are other ways to get the Hallmark, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, and Hallmark Drama channels on your TV or smartphone.
- On the other hand, access to the Tennis Channel is a bit tricky. You can stream all Wimbledon games through ESPN+, but you’ll have to sign in with your TV provider (i.e., DISH, Xfinity, Sling TV, etc.).
Netflix is best for original content
Netflix is the king of content, in general
|Netflix Basic||$8.99†||View Plans|
|Netflix Standard||$13.99†||View Plans|
|Netflix Premium||$17.99†||View Plans|
What we like about Netflix
- Netflix has lots of original content
- This on-demand streaming service has a traditional interface
Who doesn’t love one-of-a-kind content?
Netflix is No. 1 in original content with its famous directors, producers, and actors, as well as comedy specials. It’s no question that lots of Netflix’s original content has become popular and known.
Some popular original series you’ve likely heard of include: Tiger King, Stranger Things, and Orange Is the New Black.
Some current, fantastic Netflix originals you can binge this weekend include:
- Fatherhood (with Kevin Hart)
- Virgin River (with Alexandria Breckenridge)
- Dead to Me (with Christina Applegate and James Marsden)
- Workin’ Moms
- Fuller House
- The Crown
- The Queen’s Gambit
You’ll also see super hilarious one- to two-hour comedy specials performed by comedians Dave Chappelle, Kevin Hart, Joe Rogan, Chris Rock, Bert Kreischer, and Ricky Gervais.
You’ll have hours upon hours of content to watch while you wind down for the day.
Netflix has that familiar, OG interface
We have to say we love Netflix’s traditional, easy-to-use interface of Popular, Trending, New Releases, Top 10 in the US Today, and so on. You’re guaranteed to find something to watch on your Friday movie night.
With Netflix, you can find yourself in bed all day just watching great entertainment. Seriously. It’s not like we experienced it or anything.
On top of the friendly interface and the fact that we can find ourselves stuck streaming in bed, Netflix’s parental controls are on point. This is why we named it the best streaming service for kids. You can create a kids profile and a PIN so your little ones can’t access mature TV shows and movies.
What we don’t like about Netflix
- Netflix is the most expensive on-demand streaming service
Netlfix’s top-tier plan is on the pricier side
Netflix has three plans to choose from: Basic for $8.99, Standard for $13.99, and Premium for $17.99.
The Basic plan is perfect for those who want access to the 15,000 titles available on Netflix. You’ll just have to be OK with no HD (high definition) viewing, and you probably don’t want to share your password because you can only stream on one device at once.
The Standard plan‘s price isn’t too hard to swallow. When you upgrade to this plan, you can stream on two devices (so you can probably share your password with your roommate or significant other).
Like the Standard plan, you’ll get to watch your content in HD with the Premium plan. Netflix’s Premium plan is the most expensive on-demand plan. But it might be worth upgrading to from the Standard plan.
For $4 more, you can stream on four devices at the same time. So now you won’t have to worry about getting booted off your account when watching Schitt’s Creek.
Hulu is best for newer content
Hulu’s unbeatable timing with new content is partly what makes it so great
What we like about Hulu
- Hulu delivers loads of newer content
- Hulu has also been known for its original content
We want new content. When do we want it? Now!
You can count on Hulu to deliver the brand new episode of Manifest and America’s Got Talent soon after it airs on live television.
For example, when The Bachelor/ Bachelorette airs on ABC Monday night, it will become available by 9 a.m. (ET) the next morning.
Now that’s great timing. Mostly for us impatient people who don’t want to see any spoilers on Twitter or Instagram.
Lately, Hulu has been releasing a lot more full seasons rather than new episodes. On Hulu, you can find TV shows aired of Freeform, ABC, FX, FOX, and Lifetime.
On a Friday night, sit back and watch Good Trouble, Big Sky, or Married at First Sight.
Hulu has popular original content
Netflix wins the title for the best original content, but Hulu is one of our top five favorites for its unique content. You won’t find these shows anywhere else besides on this specific streaming service.
Hulu includes the following Original series and movies:
- Nine Perfect Strangers
- Handmaid’s Tale
- False Positive
- Summer of Soul
- Love, Victor
- Solar Opposites
- Little Fires Everywhere
- Madagascar: A Little Wild
- The United States vs. Billie Holiday
- Changing the Game
What we don’t like about Hulu
- You’ll have the upgrade to get no ads
You’ll probably want the top-tier plan
We like how Netflix doesn’t include ads in any of its plans. But with Hulu, you’ll want its most expensive plan for no interruptions.
So you might find yourself upgrading to the $12 per month plan.
Keep in mind that Hulu only lets you stream on two devices at once with both plans. That’s nice for those who want the $6 per month plan, but this can become a problem for large families.
Sling TV is the best live TV budget-pick
Sling TV has some of the lowest prices in the live TV streaming industry
|Plan||Price||TV channel count||Details|
|Sling Orange||$35†||30+||View Plan|
|Sling Blue||$35†||45+||View Plan|
|Sling Orange + Sling Blue Services||$50†||50+||View Plan|
What we like about Sling TV
- Sling TV is perfect for money savers
Sling TV is great for budget-minded people
Sling TV has three inexpensive packages: Sling Orange, Sling Blue, and Sling Orange + Blue.
Sling Orange and Sling Blue are each $35 per month, which is an excellent price. The difference is in the channels.
Sling Orange has about 32 channels, including Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Freeform, and Food Network.
Sling Blue has about 47, including Fox News, MSNBC, Nick Jr., TBS, and USA. So we encourage you to check out the channel lineups of both to find out which package is the best for you and your family.
The Orange + Blue plan, on the other hand, gives you all of the channels in Sling Orange and Sling Blue in one package for $15 more.
As of right now, $50 per month isn’t too bad of a deal for a little over 50 channels, while the average price for live TV streaming services is about $65 for 65-100 channels.
What we don’t like about Sling TV
- Sling TV’s DVR storage space is questionable
One of the worst DVRs in the industry
We hate to say it, but Sling TV’s DVR is one of the poorest DVRs in the industry.
A DVR with 50 hours can fill up quicker than you think, especially if you’re sharing with the fam. And you’ll have to add $5 to your monthly bill for the 200-hour DVR storage space.
If you choose to keep the 50-hour DVR storage, just remember, your older recordings will automatically delete so the DVR can find storage space for your new recordings.
At least Sling TV has an excuse because this service is on the inexpensive side.
Recap: Which is the best streaming service?
- fuboTV: fuboTV is our favorite streaming service because, for $65-$80 per month, you’ll get access to over 100 channels and on-demand content (network TV shows and movies). fuboTV has one of the most intuitive user interfaces, and the household will get 250-1,000 hours of DVR storage to share.
- YouTube TV: Coming in at a close second, YouTube TV is a family favorite. Like fuboTV, you’ll get a great variety of channels for whatever mood you might be in. Unlike fuboTV, you’ll get the major sports networks in its $65 per month plan.
- Netflix: Netflix’s original content is tough to beat. Netflix’s ample funding provides for top-notch productions you’ll only find on this streaming service. Not only is it No. 1 in original content, but it’s also number one in content overall with its ginormous library of 15,000 titles that will never leave you bored.
- Hulu: If you want to watch the latest episode of your favorite network TV show but don’t have cable TV, Hulu is a no-brainer. We know you need to catch up on The Bachelorette ASAP to see if your Bachelorette bracket is still alive. Hulu also creates an abundant amount of excellent original content, like Handmaid’s Tale.
- Sling TV: If you want live TV channels but are on a budget, Sling TV is the service you’ll be most happy with. You can get 35-45+ channels for only $35 per month while saving for that new home.
We compare and rank streaming services based on five key factors:
- Content/ channel variety for everyone
- Content/ channel count
- DVR storage space
The best streaming services have a variety that everyone in the family can enjoy. Top-rated live TV streaming services have channels ranging from news to sports to kids, while on-demand streaming services have a library filled with many genres.
The next thing we look at to determine the best streaming service is the amount of on-demand content or live TV channels.
The price has to be fair in relation to the assortment and the bulk of content and channels. For example, Apple TV+ has one of the smallest (but fantastic) on-demand libraries, and it’s reflected in its pricing at $5 per month.
And lastly, when looking for a live TV streaming service, you’ll want to consider the DVR storage space and add-ons. You’ll want to make sure your next service has the add-ons you constantly use, like SHOWTIME, the NFL RedZone Channel, and Acorn.
How much does each state spend on streaming services?
This year, we’ve all spent an ample amount of time in our coziest of cozies watching some quality television.
However, this does come at a financial cost.
So, how much are we spending to stream our way to a small bit of TV-induced Nirvana?
Let’s find out.
Average monthly streaming spend by state
State by state, the spending on streaming varies.
This is perhaps because some of us enjoy a good old-fashioned puzzle more than others, or subscribe to fewer streaming services than our neighbors across state lines, or that some just prefer cable.
Those who are on the higher end of the spending spectrum may have more expansive curiosities and subscribe to premium streaming services at a higher cost.
Either way, here’s how it all breaks down.
- The mean cost of a cable television service in the US is $107/month.2
- The national average for streaming spending is $48.25/mo., less than half what Americans are spending on cable television bills.
- Nearly 54% of Americans are still paying for cable television, often in addition to their streaming service bills.
- People in Washington D.C. spend the most monthly at $52.75/mo.,while people in New Mexico spend the least, spending $39.50/mo.
States that spend the most/least on streaming
- States that spend the most on streaming appear to have larger urban areas (D.C.. Maryland, Illinois, Washington, New Jersey, etc.)
- The states that spend less tend to have more rural population density (Arkansas, Iowa, Alabama, etc.)
- Streaming is a nation-wide phenomenon.
At the end of the day, no matter the cost, the comfort we get from the solace of our heroes of sport, the “big screen”, or even the kitchen (c’mon y’all, we’re all loving the Great British Baking Show), is pretty much always worth it, and perhaps even more so now than ever.
However, we did find that difference in the amount of money that Americans are spending on streaming vs. cable is significant, so choose your plans wisely.
The costs may vary, but the joys of a big ‘ol heaping bowl of family time, getting away from it all, and maybe even just enjoying a communal laugh, are priceless.
Keep on with your active-wear-loving selves, and enjoy the little things.
Reviews.org surveyed 316,174 Americans and asked them to submit a record of all the streaming services they are actively subscribed to. We then applied the standard pricing for all 40 unique streaming services and pricing tiers (such as services that offer both on-demand and live broadcast streaming) as submitted by respondents.
Using this information, we found the average amount that Americans spend on streaming services per month on both a state and national level.
- Proprietary survey of 316,174 respondents, segmented by state, conducted by Reviews.org.
- Median spend for Cable TV was sourced from Leichtman Research.