What Is the Best Streaming Service for You? See Prices and Plans

Streaming services can take a bite out of your budget. Make sure you’re getting a good return on your entertainment investment.
Cara Smith
By Cara Smith 
Edited by Laura McMullen

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The best streaming service is the one that fits within your budget. With dozens of streaming services, varying subscription models, trial periods and add-ons available at the click of a button, today’s dizzying array of streamers makes TV anything but simple.

Though many of them are less than a decade old, streaming services are a part of millions of Americans’ lives, and most U.S. consumers have more than one subscription. Respondents to a 2022 NPR/Ipsos poll subscribed to an average of 3.55 streaming services per month.

All those services add up. Nearly one-third of global consumers plan to cut back their streaming subscriptions, according to YouGov, a consumer research firm.

U.S. consumers spend about $54 per month on streaming services, according to a 2022 survey by J.D. Power, a data analytics company. Meanwhile, cable packages from some of the largest TV providers — including Cox, Spectrum and Xfinity — range between $20 and about $140 per month, according to CableTV.com, a TV and internet affiliate site.If you’re looking to manage your subscriptions, add a new platform to your lineup or bid adieu to a streamer or two, here’s a breakdown of some of the major streaming services’ prices, packages and offerings.

What is the best streaming service?

Naming the best streaming service largely depends on what you’re looking for in a streamer. Which streaming service has won the most awards? In 2022, HBO Max garnered significantly more Emmy Award nominations than any other streaming service — though its 140 nominations technically included HBO and HBO Max programming, according to Variety, an entertainment trade publication. (More on the difference between HBO and HBO Max later.)

As for which streaming service has the most content, Amazon’s streaming service, Prime Video, boasts the largest film and television library of the major streaming services, according to an analysis by Reelgood, a streaming services trade publication. And Disney+ may just be the best streaming service for families, given its mountain of kid and family-friendly content.

And if you’re looking for the cheapest streaming service, that’ll be Peacock, which starts at $4.99 per month. Read more about the cost of each major streaming service.

How much is Netflix a month?

Netflix costs $6.99 to $19.99 per month, depending on your subscription plan. The service offers four plans.

With the Basic plan ($9.99 per month), subscribers can watch Netflix on one device at a time, access Netflix’s entire film and television library without ads and download content on one device at a time. Netflix’s Basic with ads plan ($6.99 per month) is similar to its Basic plan, though subscribers don’t have access to the full Netflix library and can’t download content to watch offline.

The Standard plan ($15.49 per month) allows users to watch Netflix on two devices at a time, while Premium subscribers can use up to four devices simultaneously. Finally, Standard users can download content onto two devices, while Premium plan ($19.99 per month) subscribers can download content onto six devices.

Unfortunately, the streamer has cracked down on password sharing. In late May, Netflix emailed all U.S. customers, informing them that their Netflix account "is for you and the people you live with — your household." Customers are now required to pay $7.99 per month to share their account with someone else.

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How much is Hulu?

Hulu’s plan with ads costs $7.99 per month or $79.99 annually, which would save subscribers about $16 over a year. Its ad-free plan costs $14.99 per month.

The streaming service’s ad-free live TV bundle costs $82.99 per month and includes access to Disney+ and ESPN+ (with ads), as well as more than 75 live and on-demand channels, including national news networks. Those channels include Comedy Central, E!, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel and more. Hulu’s live bundle with ads is similar, but its own content, as well as that of Disney+ and ESPN, includes ads. That plan is $69.99 per month.

Notably, Hulu offers several add-on options. If you have an eligible Hulu plan, you can add the following subscriptions:

  • ESPN+ for an additional $9.99 per month. 

  • Disney+ (with ads) for an additional $2 per month.

  • HBO Max for an additional $14.99 per month. 

  • Cinemax for an additional $9.99 per month. 

  • Showtime for an additional $10.99 per month. 

  • Starz for an additional $8.99 per month.

How much is Disney+?

Disney+ costs $7.99 to $10.99 per month, depending on your plan. Disney+ with ads costs $7.99 per month and is discounted to $6.99 per month for your first three months. The ad-free plan costs $10.99 per month. Ad-free subscribers can also download content for offline viewing, while subscribers with ads cannot.

Disney+ offers three subscription bundles: Duo Basic, Trio Basic and Trio Premium. Duo Basic, which costs $9.99 per month, includes subscriptions to Disney+ and Hulu with ads. For $12.99 per month, Trio Basic includes subscriptions to Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+, all of which include ads. And Trio Premium includes ad-free subscriptions to Hulu and Disney+ as well as a subscription to ESPN+ with ads. Trio Premium costs $19.99 per month.

How much is HBO Max?

The HBO Max plan with ads costs $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year, which winds up saving users just under $20 per year. HBO Max’s ad-free subscription costs $15.99 per month or $149.99 per year, for annual savings of about $42. Its ad-free subscription also includes 4K ultra HD video and downloading capabilities, so you can watch content offline.

HBO Max formally launched in 2020. Before HBO Max, HBO operated two streaming platforms: HBO Now and HBO Go. (Yes, it was a confusing time.)

All these streaming services are built around — you guessed it — the Home Box Office channel, which officially launched in 1972. In 2010, the network unveiled HBO Go, which allowed HBO subscribers to access the network’s shows and movies online or on their devices. In 2015, HBO Now launched as the network’s first standalone subscription service, allowing consumers to subscribe to HBO’s streaming service without needing to subscribe to HBO’s cable channel.

HBO Now and HBO Go folded under the HBO Max umbrella in 2020.

How much is Apple TV+?

Apple TV+ costs $6.99 per month after a free seven-day trial.

The streaming service also offers several plans that bundle access to Apple TV+ with other Apple services:

  • Apple One — Individual, which costs $16.95 per month and includes subscriptions to Apple Music, Apple Arcade and 50 gigabytes of iCloud storage.

  • Apple One — Family, which costs $22.95 per month and includes subscriptions to Apple Music, Apple Arcade and 200GB of iCloud storage.

  • Apple One — Premier, which costs $32.95 per month and includes subscriptions to Apple Music, Apple Arcade, Apple Fitness, Apple News and 2 terabytes of iCloud storage.

How much is Peacock?

Peacock costs $4.99 to $9.99 per month, depending on your service. Peacock Premium, which includes ads, costs $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year. That saves subscribers about $10 annually. Peacock Premium Plus, which doesn’t have ads, costs $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year, which saves users roughly $20 per year.

How much is Prime Video?

If you already have an Amazon Prime subscription for $14.99 per month, congratulations. You have access to some — but not all — of the movies and TV shows available on Prime Video. Those films and shows will be marked “Included with Prime.” (Don’t expect the buzziest releases to be included, though.) Prime Video membership alone costs $8.99 per month.

Unlike most of the other streaming services, Prime Video doesn’t have ad-free or ad-supported subscriptions; subscribers all have the same plan, which doesn’t include ads.

As for what users get with a Prime Video subscription, it’s worth noting that many films and shows on the streamer still cost money to rent or buy.

If you have a Prime Video subscription, you can also add dozens of other channels and streaming services. Here are some available add-ons:

  • HBO Max for an additional $14.99 per month.

  • Discovery+ (with ads) for an additional $4.99 per month.

  • Starz for an additional $8.99 per month.

  • Showtime for an additional $10.99 per month.

  • CBS All Access for an additional $5.99 per month.

  • Paramount+ for an additional $9.99 per month.

  • Epix Now for an additional $5.99 per month.