Best Streaming Services 2021

Find the best streaming service for you if you’re planning on cutting the cord
  • Best Value
    Monthly price:
    $64.99/mo.
  • Best Service for Families
    Monthly price:
    $64.99–70.99/mo.
  • Best for Original Content
    Monthly price:
    $8.99–17.99/mo.
  • Best for Newer Content
    Monthly price:
    $5.99–11.99/mo
  • Best Live TV Budget-Pick
    Monthly price:
    $35.00–50.00/mo.

To find the best streaming service, we had to evaluate price, channels, on-demand content, user interface, and DVR storage . . . and boy, it was tough.

Our five top streaming services are all great options, but one may be better suited for you than the other. And we’re here to help you make that decision.

Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty.

How do the best streaming services compare?
Streaming serviceMonthly price*Service typeDetails
YouTube TV$64.99/mo.Live TVView Plans
Hulu + Live TV$64.99–$70.99/mo.Live TVView Plans
Netflix$8.99–$17.99/mo.On-demandView Plans
Hulu$5.99–$11.99/mo.On-demandView Plans
Sling TV$35.00–$50.00/mo.Live TVView Plans

*Data effective 2/24/2021.

These are the factors we looked at to determine the best streaming services:

  • Price
  • Channels
  • On-demand content
  • User interface
  • DVR storage

YouTube TV gives you the best value

So far, YouTube TV is the GOAT

How much does YouTube TV cost?
ProviderMonthly priceAvailable channelsLearn more
YouTube TV$64.99*85View Plan
Data as of 10/28/20. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* Data as of 10/28/20. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

What we like

  • YouTube TV has most of the major channels
  • This live TV streaming service has an unlimited DVR storage

YouTube TV has most of the channels you love

To put it simply, YouTube TV is our favorite live TV streaming service, and we also named it the second-best streaming service for sports. So it easily made the No. 1 spot in this top streaming service evaluation.

YouTube TV Live Tab

Check out the channel lineup to see if it has the channels you and your family want. YouTube TV has over 85 channels, including the following:

  • ABC
  • Animal Planet
  • Cartoon Network
  • CNN
  • Discovery Channel
  • Disney Channel
  • FOX
  • ESPN
  • FS1
  • HGTV
  • MLB Network
  • MSNBC
  • NBA TV
  • SEC Network
  • TBS
  • Telemundo
  • Tennis Channel
  • TNT

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

  • No Hallmark or HISTORY channel

YouTube TV is missing a few channels, but it might not be a big deal

Bad news for Hallmark movie junkies and Ancient Aliens fans … you can’t get your fix with YouTube TV, unfortunately.

But if you do go the YouTube TV route, we have some solutions:

YouTube TV summary

  • Good: YouTube TV has the best channel lineup and the best DVR storage in the industry.
  • Bad: YouTube TV is missing a couple of channels, but it doesn’t necessarily break the service.
  • Full review: Check out our full review of YouTube TV for more information on the user interface.
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Hulu + Live TV is best for families

You’ll want Hulu Live if you’re a Lifetime or HISTORY channel fan

How much does Hulu + Live TV cost?
PlanPriceTV channel countDetails
Hulu + Live TV$64.9965+View Plan
Hulu No Ads + Live TV$70.9965+View Plan
Data as of 01/06/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Compatible device and internet connection required. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
Compatable device and internet connection required. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

What we like

  • Hulu Live has live TV channels and lots of on-demand content
  • You’ll probably like the easy-to-use user interface

Prepare for lots of entertainment

Hulu + Live TV comes in at a close second behind YouTube TV for sports watching and live TV streaming. We have named it best for entertainment and best for binge-watching.

And you’ll see why.

Hulu Live has more than 65 channels, and the channel lineup includes the following:

  • Animal Planet
  • Cartoon Network
  • CBS Sports Network
  • CNN
  • Discovery Channel
  • Disney Channel
  • ESPN
  • FOX News
  • Food Network
  • FS1
  • HGTV
  • Lifetime
  • MSNBC
  • Olympic Channel
  • TBS
  • Telemundo
  • TNT
  • USA

In comparison to YouTube TV, with Hulu + Live TV, you’ll get your ESPN College Extra, Lifetime, and History channels. But you won’t get AMC, BBC, NBA TV, PBS, Tennis Channel, or Universal Kids.

Not only do you get live channels, but you get all of Hulu’s on-demand content, as well! Hulu has popular originals that we highlight in the Hulu (on-demand service) section below, but enjoy other on-demand content on Hulu Live including the following:

  • Grey’s Anatomy
  • Outlander
  • Westworld
  • Family Guy
  • Bob’s Burgers
  • The Outsider
  • The Good Doctor
  • The Voice
  • Rick and Morty
  • Real Time with Bill Maher
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Hulu + Live TV vs. Hulu on-demand content
The on-demand content you get with Hulu (on-demand service) is the same content you’ll get with Hulu + Live TV. You just get live TV on top of all the on-demand goodness!

Hulu + Live TV has a sleek interface

Hulu wins at the interface game. Hulu has a unique interface that is easy to navigate and quickly helps you find something you want to watch with its categories and the ability to go left and right through the guide.

Hulu Live guide

What we don’t like

  • Hulu Live has a pricey enhanced DVR

Hulu Live’s DVR storage is minimal

Hulu’s included cloud DVR comes with 50 hours. That means you can record 20 episodes of The Kitchen, 20 episodes of Home Town, and 10 Lifetime movies.

It does sound like a lot of storage, but down the road, it will add up. Maybe you’ll want to save some Food Network shows so you can make those meals when the kids visit home, or you’ll want to keep that Lifetime movie in your recordings to watch whenever you’d like.

If you want to keep shows and movies in your recordings, almost as if you own them as a DVD to watch whenever you desire, you’ll want to upgrade to 200 hours.

You’ll just have to pay an extra $10 per month.

Hulu + Live TV summary

  • Good: Hulu + Live TV has channels and on-demand content for the whole family to choose from.
  • Bad: The DVR storage is subpar, and you’ll probably want to upgrade.
  • Full review: If you want more info on the user interface or the channel lineup, check out our full review of Hulu + Live TV.

Netflix is best for original content

Netflix is actually the king of original content

How much is Netflix?
PlanPriceDetails
Netflix Basic$8.99View Plan
Netflix Standard$13.99View Plan
Netflix Premium$17.99View Plan
Data as of 11/05/20. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Compatible device and internet connection required. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

What we like

  • 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 famous directors, producers, and actors, as well as comedy specials. Lots of Netflix’s original content has become popular and known.

Obviously, the most popular original series at this time is Tiger King, and it’s talked about and referred to constantly on social media. Other great Netflix originals include:

  • Ozark (with Jason Bateman)
  • Stranger Things
  • Bird Box (with Sandra Bullock)
  • Always Be My Maybe (with Marcus Kim and Keanu Reeves)
  • Orange Is the New Black
  • BoJack Horseman
  • Bright (with Will Smith)

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 interface

But 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.

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 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.

Netflix summary

  • Good: Netflix’s sleek interface categorizes loads of on-demand content and exclusive originals just for you.
  • Full review: Find out what other content you’ll get in our full review of Netflix.

Hulu is best for newer content

Hulu’s unbeatable timing with new content is partly what makes it so great

How much does Hulu cost?
PlanPriceDetails
Limited Ads$5.99View Plan
No Ads$11.99View Plan

What we like

  • Hulu delivers loads of newer content
  • Hulu is also 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 This is Us and A Million Little Things soon after it airs on live television.

For example, when The Bachelor 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.

Other next-day available TV shows include Saturday Night LiveBrooklyn Nine-Nine, and A Teacher.

Hulu has great original content

Although Netflix won the title for best original content, Hulu comes in at a very close second.

Hulu originals screenshot

You won’t find these shows anywhere else but on this specific streaming service. Hulu includes the following original content:

  • Handmaid’s Tale
  • Little Fires Everywhere
  • High Fidelity
  • Hillary
  • Future Man
  • Big Time Adolescence
  • Letterkenny
  • Crawlers
  • Shrill
  • Castle Rock
  • The Act
  • Marvel’s Runaways

Hulu summary

  • Good: Hulu gives you newly-aired episodes straight to your streaming device within 12 hours.
  • Full review: Check out our review of Hulu in our best streaming service for kids article.

Sling TV is the best live TV budget-pick

Sling TV has the lowest prices in the live TV streaming industry

How much does Sling TV cost?
PlanPriceTV channel countDetails
Sling Orange$3530+View Plan
Sling Blue$3545+View Plan
Sling Orange + Sling Blue Services$5050+View Plan
Data as of 10/28/20. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Compatible device and internet connection required. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

What we like

  • Sling TV has decent pricing for a live TV service

Sling 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 ESPN, Disney Channel, and Nick Jr.

Sling Blue has about 47, including Fox News, MSNBC, and NFL Network. 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 in Sling Blue in one package for $15 more. As of right now, $50 per month isn’t too bad of a deal for 50 channels while the average price for live TV streaming services is about $65 for 65–100 channels.

What we don’t like

  • Sling TV’s DVR storage space is highly questionable

Sling has a below-average DVR

We hate to say it, but Sling TV’s DVR (and Hulu Live’s) comes in last place among other live TV streaming services.

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 new storage space for your newer recordings.

Sling TV summary

  • Good: Sling TV has the best pricing and decent channels for those trying to save money.
  • Bad: You could say Sling TV’s DVR needs some improvement.
  • Full review: Check out our full review of Sling TV for more on channels, user interface, and add-ons.
Megaphone icon
Best internet providers
If you need a new, faster internet provider, check out our top internet providers for seamless streaming. No one wants the game to freeze during the Hail Mary when there are 10 seconds left on the clock.

Recap: Which is the best streaming service?

We sorted through more than a dozen streaming services to highlight some of the best. We considered pricing, channel, on-demand content, and user interface to determine which streaming service deserves your attention. Overall, we can say this about each:

  • YouTube TV: YouTube TV gives you over 85 great channels, on-demand content, and a solid DVR. This is why it won “best value” of the bunch.
  • Hulu + Live TV: Perfect for families, Hulu Live gives you a variety of channels and on-demand content. Everyone in the family is guaranteed to find something to watch.
  • Netflix: Netflix’s original content is tough to beat. Netflix’s ample funding provides for great productions you’ll only find on this streaming service.
  • Hulu: If you want to watch the latest episode of your favorite show but don’t have cable TV, Hulu is the choice for you.
  • Sling TV: If you want live TV channels but are on a budget, Sling TV is the service you’ll be most happy with.

What do you think?

Which streaming service do you think is the best? Tell us what you think in the comments.

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.

Map depicting monthly streaming spending by state.

Key findings:

  • 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

Chart showing monthly spending on streaming services by state.

Findings:

  • 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.

Methodology

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.

Sources

  1. Proprietary survey of 316,174 respondents, segmented by state, conducted by Reviews.org.
  2. Median spend for Cable TV was sourced from Leichtman Research.