We know—nothing beats kicking back on the couch and getting lost in your favorite show or movie. And today, it’s more convenient than ever to watch what you want when you want with streaming services.
But with so many options out there, it’s hard to know which is the best streaming service for your budget . . .
Until you read this list, that is. Then you’ll be ready for budget-friendly binging. (Just don’t forget to take breaks for fresh air and Vitamin D, okay?)
The Best Streaming Services for Your Budget
Netflix ($7–20 monthly)
Let’s start with the granddaddy of all streaming services. Netflix is where the binge-watching phenomenon got its start, and it’s no wonder why. The company was built on putting great entertainment at your fingertips—first with DVDs by mail, then with streaming in the late 2000s.
While Netflix’s inventory of shows and movies from other studios changes a lot, you can always find their acclaimed (and bingeable) originals like Stranger Things, Cobra Kai and The Crown.
The pricing starts with a super affordable $6.99 plan (with ads, of course). But if you want to stream Alone in your bedroom while your kid streams Ask the StoryBots downstairs, you’ll have to fork over a little more cash for the Standard or Premium plan.
Disney+ ($8–11 monthly | $110 annually)
You can’t mention the best streaming services without the “whole new world” of Disney+. You can watch original shows and films along with well-known (and some not-so-well-known) classics from Disney’s catalog spanning almost 100 years—titles like Frozen, Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Dumbo and everything in between.
Oh, and we do mean everything. Let’s not forget all the Marvel, Star Wars, Muppets, Pixar, 20th Century Studios, ABC and National Geographic movies and shows you can handle (because remember, Disney rules the world and owns all those things). Heck, even The Simpsons is on Disney+!
Peacock (free–$12 monthly | $60–120 annually)
Like Disney+, Peacock offers content from a major studio’s huge film and TV library—only here it’s from NBCUniversal.
That’s right: You’ll find classics like The Office and Psych right next to newer releases like Jurassic World: Dominion and Minions: The Rise of Gru. Peacock also has media hubs for content from other NBCUniversal-owned television brands like Telemundo and Bravo.
The basic version of Peacock is the cheapest streaming service we’ll mention—because it’s free—and you can upgrade to the premium version for just $6. That’s a small price to pay for some “beets, bears and Battlestar Galactica” (that’s not just a joke—Peacock actually does have Battlestar Galactica too).
Paramount+ ($6–12 monthly | $60–120 annually)
Sure, you’ve probably guessed that Paramount+ is home to all the movie and TV releases of Paramount Pictures. But just like all those other mega studio streaming services, you’ll also get access to content from the brands under the Paramount Global umbrella: CBS, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV and more. And for an extra fee, you can add your local CBS station and even Showtime.
That means you can get your SpongeBob SquarePants fix and fly with Top Gun: Maverick. And get this—Paramount+ starts carrying newly released Paramount movies 45 days after they hit theaters (with some exceptions).
So, instead of hauling your family to the real movie theater and spending an arm and a leg on tickets and candy (not to mention the gas to get there), you can save a bunch just by watching the flick in your own home!
Max ($10–20 monthly | $100–200 annually)
Max: the name of your neighbor’s dog—or one of the best streaming services out there? In this context, Max is actually the streaming service formally known as HBO Max, and it’s where you go for everything Warner Bros. as well as content from Cartoon Network, HBO, TCM, DC Comics (think Batman and Superman), and of course, Max Originals.
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That means new and classic favorites like Friends, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Looney Tunes, The Batman and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air call Max home. And those of you with kids will be excited to know that episodes of Sesame Street air on Max before they go to PBS (got to keep the little ones entertained, right?).
Next to Disney+, Max probably has the biggest lineup of content in terms of value. There’s a ton of stuff here you won’t find anywhere else.
And if that wasn’t enough, because Warner Media and Discovery merged into Warner Bros. Discovery back in 2022, Max also offers highlights from Discovery’s lineup of popular programming. You want more Discovery? Read on!
Discovery+ ($5–7 monthly)
Max isn’t the only streaming service owned by Warner Bros. Discovery. Watch out, Disney . . . WBD is gunning for the title of Owner of Everything!
We’re talking HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Travel Channel, History Channel, Animal Planet, Science Channel, A&E, Lifetime, Magnolia Network, Discovery Channel (obviously) and more.
Discovery+ prides itself on being the home of “real-life entertainment” and has you covered with nature documentaries, food competitions and a whole lot of other reality-based educational stuff.
So, depending on your budget and interests, you can choose to go with Max (which has a little Discovery content), Discovery+ (which has all the Discovery content), or both.
Amazon Prime Video ($9–15 monthly | $69–139 annually)
Amazon—it’s not just for shopping. It’s also a major player in our list of best streaming services. A membership to Amazon Prime Video gives you access to a huge selection of popular movies and TV series, plus a bunch of Prime Original series and films. And now that Amazon owns MGM, one of Hollywood’s oldest studios, it’s got thousands more movies and TV shows to tap into, including the James Bond franchise.
If Prime streaming doesn’t include the show or movie you want to watch, you can usually buy or rent it as a digital download. And for a few extra bucks, you can stream content from individual cable channels like Showtime and Starz. You can even tack on subscriptions to other streaming services like Paramount+ or Hallmark Movies Now.
Amazon offers Prime Video as a stand-alone service for $9 per month. But if you can fit it into your budget and you’re a frequent Amazon shopper anyway, an even more cost-effective option is to go for the full Amazon Prime subscription for $15 a month or $139 a year. You’ll get access to all the other Amazon Prime perks, like free two-day shipping, Prime Gaming and Prime Reading. Can’t beat that!
Hulu ($8–18 monthly | $80 annually)
Hulu is one of the oldest streaming services—it launched way back in 2007 as a possible cable alternative. Even though it’s technically owned by Disney (because, like we said, Disney owns everything), most of the content isn’t actually Disney branded.
Hulu’s a great option if you want to watch current shows the day after they air on TV along with on-demand streaming. Hulu has lots of original content as well as movies and shows from third-party studios. And like Amazon, Hulu is a content hub that offers add-ons for both cable channels and other streaming services like Max, Starz and Showtime (all for an extra fee, of course).
Apple TV+ ($7 monthly)
What do you do when you’re one of the most powerful tech companies on Earth and have more money to play with than most countries? Start your own streaming service!
Just like its powerhouse rivals Netflix and Amazon, Apple TV+ puts its own original television series and movies front and center.
Here’s a bonus: If you buy an Apple device, you’ll get the streaming service for free for three months. So, if you’re already saving up for a new gadget, they just sweetened the deal. But look out—your subscription will auto-renew after those 90 days are up.
Criterion Channel ($11 monthly | $100 annually)
Attention film snobs! Tired of all the other streaming services not supplying enough content to suit your fancy taste in cinema? Look no further than the Criterion Channel to scratch that itch.
The channel’s Criterion Collection is known by hardcore movie fans for releasing quality DVDs and Blu-rays of both classic and current films with amazing bonus features. And since 2019, Criterion has had a streaming service with an ever-growing and ever-changing library of titles from around the world—from small art-house flicks to underappreciated classics and foreign gems. They’ve got something to keep even the pickiest people happy.
Live Streaming TV Services
Let’s say you’re old-school and want that pre-binge-era feeling of watching your favorite shows in real time or checking out some live sports games. Here are some great live streaming TV service options.
ESPN+ ($10 monthly | $100 annually)
Got a sports nut in your house? This might be the streaming TV service for you. ESPN+ has lots of live sports going on all the time from professional and amateur leagues across the country and around the world—football, hockey, baseball, tennis, soccer, golf and more. ESPN+ is also the streaming home of UFC fights (but you’ve got to pay extra for that) and original programming like documentary films and series.
Now, you might be thinking, Wait, what about the actual ESPN TV channel? Well, ESPN+ was actually created to work together with the ESPN cable network (we love a good teamwork story). But that means you won’t find any games offered on the ESPN cable channels on ESPN+.
FuboTV ($75–100 monthly)
FuboTV lets you stream hundreds of local sports, entertainment and news channels in your area.
Let’s look at the two ends of the spectrum. The starter plan (Pro) covers over 150 channels, cloud DVR (for recording your favorite shows), and family share on 10 screens. The Ultimate plan gives you over 250 channels (including Showtime), cloud DVR, a sports add-on with NFL RedZone, and more.
YouTube TV ($65 monthly for first three months, $73 monthly after)
Not to be confused with the free viral video app where everyone watches cute cat videos, YouTube TV actually lets you stream your favorite channels—more than 100 of them. That means access to local cable TV channels, plus 24-hour news networks like CNBC, Fox News and CNN. There’s unlimited DVR space to record your favorite shows, as well as add-on networks like HBO (which comes with Max, by the way).
YouTube TV boasts a pretty good lineup of sports programming like ESPN and CBS Sports. Oh, and we can’t forget to mention all the add-ons that give you even more sports options.
Sling TV ($40–55 monthly)
Sling offers two main packages—Sling Orange and Sling Blue. Each has different channels (though most overlap) with different audiences in mind.
If you want ESPN or stuff for your kids like the Disney Channel, go Orange (32 channels, $40 per month). If it’s news and NFL action you’re after, go Blue (40 channels, also $40 per month). Or you can opt to get both (and all 46 channels) for $55 per month. There are also $6–21 add-on packages for sports fans, kids and movie buffs.
If you’ve seen everything there is to see on Netflix and Hulu already, try out Sling. They run pricing discounts pretty often (like half off your first month), so wait for a price cut to hit before you sign up if you want to save even more.
Philo ($25 monthly)
Philo is a live TV alternative that’s even more bare bones than Sling—and cheaper. You can get over 70 popular cable channels like Nickelodeon, AMC, TLC and yep, even Hallmark for $25 a month. There are also add-on options for more movie channels (for an extra $3–9 a month) as well as limited on-demand streaming.
Philo’s biggest claim to fame? You can stream it on up to three devices and record as many shows as you want on the cloud DVR (and keep them for up to one year in storage).
But here’s the catch: Philo doesn’t carry your local network channels (so you’ll need to get an antenna for those) or any major sports or news networks.
Hulu Live TV ($70 monthly)
If you love streaming Hulu’s shows but also want access to things like live sports and news, then opting for Hulu Live TV might be the right fit for you. It has over 90 of the most popular channels to choose from, as well as add-ons for things like movies and sports. Hulu Live TV can also record shows so you can watch them later. And now, you get the Disney bundle (Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+) with Hulu Live TV. (More on streaming bundles below.)
These are already the best streaming services for your budget—but when you pair them with these deals, you’ll get even more entertainment bang for your buck.
As you know, Disney owns all the things—and in the streaming world, they’ve got three of the biggest players: Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu.
The good news is that Disney’s domination of entertainment might actually work out in your favor . . . a little bit. They’re offering all three services in streaming bundles for a reduced price, beginning at $13 a month. Sorry, there’s no annual plan.
But Disney isn’t the only streaming service offering a bundle-and-save deal. You can add Max to your Hulu base plan for $16 more a month. Or pair Showtime with Paramount+ for $6 more a month.
The streaming bundle options go on and on. Just make sure you aren’t bundling with something you won’t even use. That won’t save you money. At all.
Believe it or not, there are streaming deals out there with companies you’re probably already using. Got a T-Mobile or AT&T phone service? Or a Walmart+ membership? Check out the deals these companies are offering to help you get some extra money back in your budget (and never be afraid to ask about new promos):
- Verizon: free Disney Bundle and Discovery+ (Discovery+ only free for six months)
- T-Mobile/Sprint: free Netflix, Apple TV+ and Paramount+ (Paramount+ only free for one year—Essential plan only)
- AT&T: free Max (only certain wireless plans apply)
- Walmart+: free Paramount+ (Essential plan only)
Hulu lets college students stream their ad-supported plan for just $1.99 a month. Amazon Prime also offers a student discount for their full membership at $7.49 per month or $69 a year.
These aren’t the only streaming services that offer lower rates for students, so make sure you’re reading all the details and plan options before you set up your account.
Streaming on a Budget
We definitely didn’t cover every option out there, but these are some of the best streaming services for your budget. If you still aren’t sure what to try, most offer a free trial. That way, you can dip your toe in the water before you add a new budget line to pay for one of these plans.
And speaking of the budget, if you don’t have one yet, check out our personal favorite: EveryDollar. While this app won’t stream The Mandalorian, it will help you save more and spend less each month. Yep, when it comes to the best budgeting tools, “this is the way.”
And best of all: There’s a free version to get you started! So, get started! Sign up for a budget-friendly streaming service and your new favorite budgeting app, EveryDollar.