16 Streaming Services Ranked Worst To Best

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Cord-cutting has become a fairly common practice, but the crowded market of streaming services — each with its own clearly defined fiefdom — has basically nullified the savings it used to bring. The lower costs that users sought from movie streaming services and live TV providers have been canceled out by rising prices and exclusive programming divided among an overwhelming number of options. For viewers who value staying on top of popular programming, signing up for three or more different services is commonplace. 

Overall, these services live and die by the content they provide. For many, Netflix's constant cancellation of original series knocks it down a peg as the ax frequently comes without warning after viewers have become invested in the stories and characters. For others, Max's seemingly arbitrary removal of movies and shows that have been featured on the service since its inception is unforgivable. 

With that in mind, we've put together a ranking to help even the most frugal film lover decide on one or two services that are worth the subscription costs. Since performance is largely similar for these streamers, factors like layout, ads, and content were taken into account. While 12th place isn't necessarily the worst in a world with dozens and dozens of streaming services and an ever-increasing number of niche and specialized content providers, it does mean that it's the hardest to recommend of the 12 on our rankings. Here are the 12 most prominent streaming services listed from worst to best.

16. Curiosity Stream

For those who yearn for the days when Discovery and the channels under its umbrella aired shows less like "1000-lb Sisters" and "Naked and Afraid" in favor of more educational programming, Curiosity Stream exists to scratch that exact itch. Launched by John Hendricks in 2015, the founder of the Discovery Channel, this on-demand service has become a haven for curious minds worldwide. With a library brimming with thousands of documentaries, series, and exclusive content, Curiosity Stream offers an intellectually stimulating experience.

At its core, Curiosity Stream is a celebration of the curious spirit. It covers a diverse range of topics, including science, technology, history, nature, and more. Whether you're interested in unraveling the mysteries of the cosmos, diving into the depths of the ocean, or tracing the footsteps of ancient civilizations, this platform has something to pique your interest. Viewers can enjoy stunning visuals, expertly crafted narratives, and insightful commentary that bring complex subjects to life. From the grandeur of the universe to the intricacies of the natural world, the content is not only informative but also visually captivating.

As a more narrow, focused service that mainly curates syndicated and original educational content, it's obviously not going to have the range of content you might expect from some of the bigger services. However, at just $5.99, Curiosity Stream is an unbeatable deal for viewers seeking the brand of programming they have to offer. Plus, when bumped up to $9.99, subscribers also gain access to Tastemade, Da Vinci, One Day University, SOMM TV, Topic, and Nebula.

15. Crunchyroll

This is another of the more niche, streaming specialty streaming services out there. Crunchyroll is dedicated to the world of anime. Established in 2006 by Kun Gao, Crunchyroll has grown into a global powerhouse, offering a vast and diverse selection of animated series, films, and manga adaptations. With millions of subscribers worldwide, it has become a go-to destination for anime enthusiasts.

Fundamentally, Crunchyroll is a celebration of creativity and storytelling through animation. It boasts an extensive library spanning various genres, from action-packed shonen adventures to heartwarming shoujo romances and thought-provoking seinen dramas. Whether you're a fan of classic titles or the latest seasonal releases, Crunchyroll provides an immersive experience for viewers of all tastes.

One of Crunchyroll's standout features is its commitment to simulcasting. The platform often streams new episodes of popular anime series just hours after their original airtime in Japan, allowing fans worldwide to stay up-to-date and share the excitement. This dedication to providing fresh content has helped build a strong and passionate community of anime enthusiasts.

Crunchyroll's accessibility is also worth noting. It offers free and premium subscription options, with premium users enjoying benefits like ad-free streaming, early access to episodes, and offline downloads starting at $7.99. The platform is compatible with various devices, from smartphones to smart TVs, making it easy for fans to enjoy their favorite anime wherever and whenever they choose.

In 2021, Sony, the parent company of one of Crunchyroll's main alternatives, Funimation, acquired Crunchyroll. In March of 2022, a majority of Funimation's content began migrating to Crunchyroll. For anime fans looking for a one-stop shop platform, Crunchyroll has just about every base covered.

14. ESPN+

Yet another niche streaming platform, ESPN+, unsurprisingly, is a service that caters to sporting fans all over the world. The service was launched in 2018, and it has quickly become a go-to destination for fans looking to expand their sports viewing experience beyond traditional television. Offering a wide range of content, live events, and original programming, ESPN+ has casual and hardcore sporting fans alike covered.

ESPN+ is all about delivering sports content that caters to the diverse interests of sports fans. It offers a comprehensive library of live sports events, including coverage of major leagues like the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and UFC. Additionally, it provides access to niche sports, college games, and international competitions, ensuring that fans of all sports can find something to watch. ESPN+ Originals include shows such as Tom Brady's "Man in the Arena" and "Bananaland."

But ESPN+ isn't just sports and sports replay, as the platform is home to troves of exclusive content. Subscribers can enjoy original shows, documentaries, and analysis programs that delve into the stories, personalities, and history behind sports. This exclusive content adds depth to the sports-watching experience and offers a behind-the-scenes look at the athletes and teams that fans love.

ESPN+ is also part of one of the most valuable streaming bundles, included alongside Hulu and Disney+. ESPN+ starts at $9.99 per month, but the bundle with two other services is just $3 more. While ESPN+ might not be the most widely appealing streaming service available on its own, The Disney Bundle easily makes it a very enticing cherry for sports fans on top of a steal of a bundle package.

13. YouTube TV

There are many live TV services out there, from Sling TV to Hulu Live TV. However, there's one that reigns above the rest on its merits. YouTube TV comes at a steeper price than Sling TV at $72.99 monthly, but a lower price point than the base price of Hulu Live TV, which will soon be rising to $75.99.

With a relatively negligible price difference between it and Hulu Live, what sets YouTube TV ahead of both it and Sling TV? The primary features that put YouTube head and shoulders above both are user interface and channel selection. YouTube is one of the longest-running video services on the internet, so it's no surprise that it has a simple, easy UI down to a fine science. For channel selection as well, YouTube TV reigns supreme with nearly 80 channels streaming on their platform.

This extensive channel lineup ensures viewers can watch their favorite shows, sports, and news programs in real-time. Above Sling TV, YouTube TV holds its impressive unlimited DVR. With YouTube TV, customers can record and save as much content as they want that will stay stored for nine months. In addition to DVR recording, a flowing library of content is available for streaming on YouTube TV alongside the ability to rent and purchase movies.

In an era of cord-cutting and on-demand viewing, YouTube TV bridges the gap between live television and modern streaming convenience. It combines the best of both worlds by offering live channels and an extensive library of on-demand content, all within an intuitive and user-friendly interface. YouTube TV isn't just a streaming service; it's a versatile solution for those seeking the flexibility of streaming while still enjoying live TV experiences.

12. Tubi

Despite its low ranking, Tubi does have a lot going for it. It's free, for one. There isn't even an ad-free tier available -– it's just a free service that requires viewers to sit through a commercial or two every few minutes. There's no sign-up required, although that option is available for users who want to keep a favorites list or pick up a show where they left off earlier. Tubi also offers apps for several devices but can be accessed using an internet browser as well.

The Fox-owned service actually has a good variety of series and films, too. For fans of "Mystery Science Theater 3000 "or Rifftrax levels of film quality, Tubi has some original content that feels tailor-made for riffing. Titles like "Deadly Cheer Mom," "Shark Side of the Moon," and "Twisted House Sitter" have the potential for a lot of fun in a group setting.

It's not all so-bad-it's-good content, either. Networks like Fox, A&E, and Lifetime are represented, and Tubi has recently committed more resources to original content, including a set of documentaries from Vice. There are plenty of curated collections and a surprising amount of live channels as well. Films like "Dead Poets Society" and "The Help" are featured on the service alongside a large selection of Spanish-language cinema. It's hard to knock a service that's just giving some decent content away for free. Still, a lousy ratio of quality to quantity keeps Tubi at the bottom of our rankings.

11. Starz

While Starz is one of the streamers that has made the change from cable TV to cord-cutting so frustrating, the service does have some positives. For one, it offers a lower price point than many of the other entries on our rankings, with a monthly subscription fee of $8.99. Beyond that, the service has a decent selection of movies, including recent releases like "Fall," "Clerks III," and "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent" — but that's far from the main focus. 

Original programming is the main draw for Starz. For a streamer that started life as a premium cable network similar to HBO or Showtime, Starz was ready-made to go from a cable package add-on to its own independent service based on that alone. It has got shows that have run multiple seasons, and fans have no choice but to subscribe if they want to continue enjoying those long-running epics. While this is a strength for Starz, it is also a weakness. After all, why subscribe to another service just for one or two shows?

The caveat to that decision is that Starz has some incredibly popular series such as "Power," "Outlander," and "Heels." So while Starz has its followers and they're a committed pack of fans, the overall lack of bigger-name series and films mostly limits the appeal of a subscription — unless you're already hooked on these series.

10. Shudder

For horror fans, this entry is offensively low. After all, the amount of content Shudder puts out there as a niche streamer will be applauded! AMC's horror-centric offshoot is the go-to source for horror content, as it regularly adds new and classic films alongside its own series and documentaries, with every month bringing a mix of new films both well-known and obscure. 

The site is easy to navigate and features curated lists, well-defined subgenres, and three separate live channels featuring Shudder originals, classic films, and folk horror. Shudder's decision to offer a trio of choices is unique in this regard, and the addition of a live option is a welcome change. At $5.99 a month or a discounted annual subscription, Shudder is also one of the lower-priced options out there. 

Aside from the large genre selection, Shudder is home to the popular series "The Last Drive-In." This cross between a curated double feature and a lesson in horror history is hosted by Joe Bob Briggs and has been on Shudder since the streamer hosted a well-received marathon in 2018. That event brought so many new fans that it overloaded the servers, a problem that still happens occasionally during the premieres of new episodes. 

The combination of technical issues and the fact that it caters to a very specific genre means Shudder stays near the bottom of our rankings. At the very least, though, it's worth the frequently offered free month trial when October rolls around.

9. The Criterion Channel

If high-quality films are considered a subgenre or niche product, then The Criterion Channel is basically Shudder for the art house crowd. Criterion is a company that has dedicated itself to presenting films as its creator intended, and its high-quality physical releases of classic and current films reflect that high standard. The Criterion Collection consistently includes releases that feature incredible supplemental additions while restoring films to their original state, and its streaming service highlights many of those movies.

The Criterion Channel has the kind of selection one would expect from a purveyor of high-end and arthouse cinema. A standard featured collection contains anything from sets of silent films to a series of movies directed by David Lynch, and you might even find a lineup of forgotten Oscar winners. Several classic films, foreign movies, and unique independents round out the service's offerings, along with some original programming. The Criterion Collection's high bar for content means there aren't a ton of choices to be overwhelmed by, but one does feel like every movie on The Criterion Collection is there for a reason.

The Criterion Channel is $10.99 a month or $99.99 a year, putting it on the higher end of price ranges in our rankings. While that's absolutely worth it for the movie buffs that Criterion caters to, it does keep it near the bottom of the rankings for general audiences.

8. Apple TV+

Not content to sit out of the streaming battle, Apple launched its own streaming service in 2019 — Apple TV+. While calling Apple an underdog at anything seems a little silly, its streaming service lacked any big hits until the premiere of "Ted Lasso" in 2020. A breakout success for the streamer, Apple+ has since aired three seasons of "Ted Lasso," which has won several Golden Globe and Emmy awards over its lifetime. 

Apple TV+ has also seen success with popular shows like M. Night Shyamalan's "Servant" and Adam Scott's "Severance." It has also acquired streaming rights to some MLS and MLB games. However, one of the streaming service's biggest wins was the purchase of distribution rights to "CODA," a Sundance film that went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture -– the first time a streaming service has had a film win in that prestigious category.

The service continues to add more original programming alongside classic content like the "Peanuts" library of specials. The service runs $6.99 a month, although Apple offers bundles with other services like Apple Music as well. While that's not an obscene price, Apple TV+ lacks the content that other providers carry –- and the three months included with the purchase of any Apple device are more than enough to get through most of the best that Apple TV+ has to offer.

7. Paramount+

Paramount+ was launched in 2021 as a rebranding of CBS All Access and has grown from what was primarily another avenue to watch CBS programming into a larger beast after CBS was merged (again) with Viacom in 2019. That merger meant access to programming from Nickelodeon and films from Paramount, and eventually the addition of content from other Viacom networks like MTV, Comedy Central, BET, and the Smithsonian Channel.

Focusing on popular properties is a priority for Paramount+, which offers three "Star Trek" series, including "Star Trek: Picard," along with several shows that used to air on CBS, including "Evil" and "SEAL Team." NFL and UEFA games are also available on the service, as are several Paramount movies, including 2022's blockbuster "Top Gun: Maverick." Series like "South Park" and "SpongeBob Squarepants" have also had feature-length projects debut on the streaming service.

Paramount+ is available starting at $5.99 a month with ads and offers fewer ads for $11.99 a month, although live TV will always have commercials. The recently announced addition of Showtime as a bundled package for $11.99 a month may add some much-needed premium programming later in 2023. For now, however, Paramount+ seems comfortable focusing on its target audience of Spongebob lovers and Trekkies.

6. Amazon Prime Video

As a part of any Amazon Prime subscription, Amazon Prime Video is in a good spot when it comes to eyes getting on the product. It's got plenty of great content, with original series such as "The Boys" and "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" leading the pack. Amazon seemed more interested in producing films a few years ago, but the company's purchase of MGM shows they have no intention of completely backing out of that area. Prime Video also offers a vast array of channels that can be added on through their own service at a discount.

While Amazon seemingly has all the money in the world at its disposal, that hasn't always translated into success in its programming. Recent reports show that the Prime Video series "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" only had a 37% completion rate in the U.S., with 50% being considered a success. That's not promising for a series believed to be the most expensive ever produced

Still, with Thursday Night Football exclusive to the service alongside several great series, Amazon Prime Video will continue to keep the attention of users, especially those who simply consider the streamer a nice addition to their existing Prime subscription. Amazon has also added a standalone option starting at $8.99 for those folks interested in the shows but not the other Prime services.

5. Peacock

NBCUniversal's streaming home, Peacock, includes an extensive library of NBC shows, including past hit series like "Psych" and "Parks and Recreation." It also has several exclusive series, including recent hits like "Poker Face" and "Bel-Air." The additional bonus of being included with many users' Xfinity subscriptions doesn't hurt, either.

Peacock has also become the home for World Wrestling Entertainment's vast library of classic content and premium live events since WWE shuttered its own WWE Network. What used to be a $50-a-month pay-per-view schedule for the most rabid members of the WWE Universe has become a more palatable monthly subscription that includes the wrestling giant's "premium live event" schedule and a large back catalog of TV programming. Peacock's Universal connection is seen in its movie offerings, as there are hundreds of films available, both recent and classic. Subscribers can also expect new movies on Peacock the same day as their theatrical release, including 2022's divisive "Halloween Ends." There are also several live channels, although most of those are local news or collections of shows offered elsewhere on the service. 

Live games from Major League Baseball, Big Ten college football, the NFL, and the Premier League, as well as content from Telemundo and Hallmark, round out a solid amount of programming for a starting price of $5.99 a month (with ads). Like Paramount+, Peacock also offers a no-ads model for $11.99. With a wide variety of live content, original and classic television and movies, and sports options, Peacock is one of the better streamers available.

4. Disney+

The Disney+ library has grown so much that it's hard to believe it has only been around since 2019. At launch, Disney+ featured 500 films (including several beloved classic animated features), 7,500 episodes of TV, and the premiere of "The Mandalorian." Many subscribers gave Disney+ a chance for the large library of Disney and Pixar films, but since its inception, the service has launched some of the most talked about series available. These include MCU series such as "WandaVision" and "Loki" as well as "Star Wars" spin-offs "Andor" and "The Bad Batch."

A wrinkle to the service was the Premier Access business model, which saw several new theatrical releases like "Mulan" and "Black Widow" get a same-day release on Disney+ — but requiring a separate $29.99 fee. While initially a response to theaters shutting down during the pandemic, the service wasn't recouping losses with Premier Access, and with Max and Peacock premiering big movies on the same day as theater releases, Disney quietly stopped that practice.

Despite that hiccup, Disney+ has been largely successful. The service is constantly adding new high-quality content to the service, most of which is original and exclusive to Disney+. It's available for $7.99 a month with ads, but being part of the House of Mouse also means that Disney+ has the advantage of being included in bundles with both Hulu and ESPN+. Especially for the parents of younger kids, the trio of ESPN's sports coverage, Disney's family-friendly fare, and Hulu's wide variety of content makes the already alluring Disney+ a no-brainer.

3. Hulu

Like Disney+, Hulu benefits from being a part of the larger Disney bundle –- but that doesn't mean Hulu doesn't bring plenty to the table. Hulu has been around longer than most other streaming services, and its back catalog includes a lot of FX and Fox's content, including beloved series like "Bob's Burgers." 

New films like "Boston Strangler" and 2022's surprisingly excellent "Predator" prequel, "Prey," are also exclusive to the service, while limited series like "Great Expectations" and "History of the World, Part II" add value to the streamer as well. The menus are okay but not wonderful, although they do a good job of keeping larger genres defined and films separate from series.

Starting at $7.99 a month (with ads) and offering bundles that include Disney+, ESPN+, and live TV, Hulu can provide as much or as little content as the subscriber would like. Even on its own, Hulu's selection of original films and its huge selection of older series is worth the low subscription cost. Especially as part of the Disney bundle, Hulu is one of the best values in the world of streaming.

2. Max

The streaming service of what many consider to be the best of the premium cable channels is Max (formerly HBO Max). The service combines the original programming of HBO, which includes the likes of "The Last of Us" and "House of the Dragon," with a slew of movies including "The Menu" and "The Batman." Max also hosts several hubs for content providers, which include big names like DC, Studio Ghibli, and Cartoon Network. The menus are a little clunky, but those hubs are great for finding something to watch based on a studio or network.

Ultimately, the quality of HBO's content is what sets it above so many of its peers. They have long been known as a producer of great documentaries and series on the cable network, and that well-earned reputation has translated over to the streaming service. While listing all of the recent hit series Max has released would be a fool's errand, a quick scroll shows that a great number of the series that used to be considered mandatory viewing for water cooler talk call this streaming service home. 

While it's a little more pricey than many of the other popular services, starting at $6.99 with ads and $9.99 without, Max earns its number-two-and-counting rank with a wide variety of high-quality series and films.

1. Netflix

The one true king of streamers, Netflix remains at the head of the table for a few simple reasons. The volume of content they put out remains unmatched. They offer a ton of 4K and HDR content, although that comes at a cost. Exclusive series and films include award-winning hits like "Squid Game," "Stranger Things," "Guillermo del Toro's Pinnochio," and loads of stand-up comedy. The lowest ad-supported tier, which restricts users to 720p video quality and omits some selections, is only $6.99 a month. Since Netflix has been streaming since they were still in the business of sending DVDs to users' homes, the service has eliminated a lot of the technical issues that still affect a lot of the newer competition.

There are, of course, strikes against Netflix too. Its suggestion algorithm can omit a lot of content that users might be interested to see, and sometimes even searching for a title can prove difficult. The recent decision to crack down on password sharing feels a little petty. In addition, Netflix's movie selection has taken a hit since every other studio in Hollywood seems to have its own streaming service. 

At the end of the day, however, the combination of a reasonable price point, a ton of options over a variety of categories, and a higher-end option that takes advantage of those nice A/V upgrades many users have made keeps Netflix at the top of our rankings.