Top 10 streaming services of 2020
When it comes to ranking the top 10 streaming services, it isn’t easy especially since there are so many choices available.
Streaming services are becoming more and more ingrained in United States consumer culture. Now more than ever, TV-watchers are choosing to cut the cord on traditional cable, and invest in various streaming services to consume content.
This has naturally led to a proliferation in streaming service options. At times, this can seem overwhelming. There are so many different types of streaming services, from traditional powers like Netflix and Hulu, to all encompassing packages like Sling and Fubo TV.
Here’s our attempt to try and separate the best from the rest. We’re judging these on price, streaming library, and reputation. Also, it’s important to note that these are being judged as stand-alone entities, as it is impossible to account for everyone’s various preferences and subscriptions.
With all that being said, here’s our list.
Top 10 streaming services
Wrapping up our list is the premier sports streaming platform, ESPN+. While now may not be the best time to subscribe, as there are no live sports due to COVID-19, ESPN+ offers a ton of original sports programming, including the acclaimed documentary series 30 for 30, as well as the highly anticipated upcoming documentary The Last Dance, a 10-part series about the 1997-1998 Chicago Bulls.
At $4.99 a month, sports fanatics will get plenty of video and written sports content, even in the months without sports. When sports eventually do return, ESPN has one of the best collections in the world: NBA, NCAA, MLB, NHL, Monday Night Football, Serie A, and numerous other soccer leagues and competitions, to name a few.
9. Sling TV
Sling is a little confusing — they have three different packages (Blue, Orange, and Blue+Orange) that are offered for different prices, with different channel numbers:
• Sling Orange is $30/month, with 32 channels
• Sling Blue is also $30/month, with 47 channels
• Sling Orange+Blue is $45/month, with 53 channels.
The differences between Blue and Orange: You can only have one stream at a time with Orange, and 2 with Blue; and both options lack channels that the other has, essentially baiting you into subscribing for Orange + Blue.
Sling also offers add-on packages, ranging from $5 to $15/month. In terms of DVR, you only get 10 hours for free, and an additional $5 a month gets you 50 hours.
Overall, Sling TV is not quite as good value as the competition.
This one is tricky, since Prime Video isn’t really the focal point of an Amazon Prime subscription. It costs $12.99 a month for Prime, which is largely focused on delivering packages quicker and cheaper. Prime Video is an added benefit, but they do have a strong library of movies and TV shows (including the incredible World Cup documentary series). In terms of balance between the two, it’s probably the best after Netflix (HBO and Hulu are far more focused on TV), but the strength of their library is nowhere near the other top streaming sites.
Ultimately, if you want Prime Video, it’s best to take advantage of Amazon Prime as a whole. I don’t know if I’d recommend investing 13 bucks a month just for Prime Video when Netflix is significantly better and a dollar cheaper.
Fubo is another television streaming platform, but it lags behind some of the others in a few regards. At $54.99 per month, you get only 2 simultaneous streams, 90 channels (the most so far), and 30 hours of cloud DVR (conversely, the least so far). It is good value for 1-2 people, considering the amount of channels it offers.
For sports fans, it is a mixed bag. There is a terrific 23 channel sports package for an additional $8.99 a month — a dream for soccer fans who can watch matches from around the world. However, Fubo does not include ESPN, which is the gold standard for American sports programming, and also has an extensive collection of soccer streaming. Is it worth it to spend 64 bucks on Fubo and the sports package, and then — separately — tacking on another 5 dollars a month for ESPN+? It isn’t the worst deal, but it’s more of a headache, for sure.
In our rankings of the top 10 streaming services, it’s back to more traditional streaming options with Disney+. One of the newer streaming services introduced, Disney+ has an impressive library that takes advantage of their near endless supply of IP (intellectual property). Full Star Wars, Pixar, and Disney libraries, almost every Marvel film (soon, they’ll have all 23), and a ton of National Geographic content. It’s a versatile platform that caters to almost everyone.
At $6.99/month, Disney+ might be a tad overpriced (it’s a dollar more than Hulu, despite having a lot less content), but the strength of its IP makes it essential for families with kids, and superfans of Marvel and Star Wars, two of the most dominant film franchises of the last half century.
Read our more comprehensive review of the Disney+ bundle.
Hulu + Live TV lags just behind YouTube TV. For $54.99/month, you get 60+ channels and the entire Hulu library, which essentially splits the price difference between YouTube TV (who does not offer their own premium service in the deal), along with 2 screens and 50 hours of cloud DVR. You also have the option to add 2 screens and unlimited cloud DVR for $9.99/month.
However, if you subscribe to YouTube TV and regular Hulu, you’d pay the same price, with more channels, 4 more screens, and unlimited cloud DVR. Essentially, you can divide and conquer for better value. If you are an individual or a smaller group, and don’t need all those extra screens, Hulu + Live TV is a perfectly fine option.
4. YouTube TV
The first fully-encompassing TV package on the list is YouTube TV, which has the best price to benefit ratio, in my opinion, of any. For $49.99/month, you get around 70 channels, up to six users at once, and an unlimited cloud DVR. That’s great value relative to the rest of the options on the board, and also gives you some leeway to subscribe to Netflix or Hulu.
The one caveat is that YouTube Premium is not included, but rather offered for an additional $11.99/month, which I felt to be a bit cheap (why not toss it into the package?). However, regular YouTube works just fine, as most ads are a max of 15 seconds. The TV package as a standalone is great value, and offers the most screens and the largest free cloud DVR possible.
However, for soccer fans, the glaring channel missing on YouTube TV is beIN SPORTS.
Another established name in the streaming industry, Hulu’s main draw is its extensive television library. There is no streaming service with a larger TV library than Hulu, which covers almost every genre in spades. Additionally, they provide easy access to prestige networks like HBO and Showtime for an additional monthly cost.
Hulu is also very fairly priced, at $5.99 a month. You can burn through that value in a weekend with a proper binge. While it lacks the prestige of HBO, the sheer amount of viewing options can occupy consumers for months on end (which is helpful right about now).
For cost cutters, you can get Hulu combined with Disney+ and ESPN+ for $12.99 per month.
2. HBO Now
In terms of sheer quality of the streaming library, it’s hard to argue with HBO Now. HBO has been the premier name in television for the last three decades, and has some of the best television series to ever air, such as The Sopranos, The Wire, and Game of Thrones, and modern classics like Veep, Barry, and Succession. They also have late night programming, sports programming, and extensive documentary and movie libraries.
Other services may offer loads of more options, but HBO’s status atop the original content mountain is unassailable, and for that reason, they rank second.
You can get HBO Now for $14.99/month, or utilize HBO Go on a streaming device if you already subscribe to HBO on cable.
It’s hard to argue with Netflix at number one in the top 10 streaming services. They’re by far the most established streaming platform. They have the most balanced and comprehensive library of any service, with a great ratio of movies, to TV shows, to original content. Two of their films, Marriage Story and The Irishman, got nominated for Best Picture, and Tiger King is all anyone is talking about right now.
Regardless of if you have basic cable, or a fully-encompassing streaming service, Netflix remains the dominant name in streaming. They were the first to successfully go online, they were the first service to develop original content, and so far, no one has caught them. The king stays the king, despite literally everyone trying to drag them down.
You can get Netflix for $12.99/month for a basic plan (HD and 2 Screens) or the deluxe plan at $14.99/month, which includes HD, 4K, and 4 screens.
Did I miss any in the top 10 streaming services? Rank any too high, or too low? Let us know in the comments below.