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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Digital Media

What's the best TV streaming service?

With Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime all vying for your attention, we break down which service is the best deal for you.

Netflix

Amazon has spun out its Amazon Prime Video service into a standalone monthly subscription, just like Netflix and Hulu currently offer.

Instead of paying a flat $100 fee every year for Amazon Prime (which includes free two-day shipping on most items, cloud storage, streaming music and video), you can opt to pay $8.99 monthly to watch movies and TV shows from Amazon's catalog.

Amazon's looking to compete with its two biggest streaming rivals, Netflix and Hulu, both of which offer similarly-priced monthly plans. However, Amazon's monthly option seems to be the weakest deal since it's cheaper to just buy a year Prime membership than pay the monthly fee.

With Amazon's new plan, we wanted to check in on all of the streaming services available to see what they offer now and for how much.

Netflix

Netflix is a strong contender for movies and killing it lately with plenty of original shows. It's also completely commercial-free and available in hundreds of countries.

Basic plan:

  • $8.99, £5.99, AU$8.99 per month
  • Can stream on only one screen at once
  • Does not include HD video

Standard plan:

  • $9.99, £7.49, AU$11.99 per month
  • Stream on two screens at once
  • HD video

Premium plan:

  • $11.99, £8.99, AU$14.99 per month
  • Stream on up to four screens at once
  • Ultra HD video

(Note that if you're a long-time Netflix subscriber, your pricing may differ from what you see. Be aware that will change soon, though.)

Hulu

The big draw of Hulu is that you can watch the newest episodes of current shows the day after they air on broadcast. It's good way to keep up with current TV without cable. The downside is that unless you pay more, you'll see commercials. Sadly, Hulu is not available outside the US.

Free plan:

  • No cost, but you'll see commercials
  • Not available on most TV devices (Roku, Apple TV, etc)

Limited commercials plan:

  • $7.99 per month
  • Fewer commercials than free TV
  • HD video, where available

No commercials plan:

  • $11.99 per month
  • No commercials, except on select shows
  • HD video, where available

Showtime add-on:

  • Additional $8.99 per month for Showtime content, including "Homeland" and "Masters of Sex."

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon's making a name for itself with original shows like "Transparent" and "The Man in the High Castle" and if you're into older HBO shows like "The Sopranos," it's also a good pick. Sorry Australians, Amazon Prime Video is not available for you.

  • $8.99, £5.99 per month for video only, or $10.99, per month for Prime shipping and video
  • Also included with a $99, £79 one-year Prime Membership
  • HD video
  • Commercial-free
  • Watch on up to two screens at once.
  • Optional add-ons include Showtime, Starz, Acorn TV and more.

Streaming showdown

Netflix Hulu Amazon Prime
Plans and monthly price (US $) Basic ($8), Standard ($10), Premium ($12) Free (PC or Mac browser only), Limited commercials ($8), No commercials ($12), Showtime add-on (additional $9)* $9 monthly for video only; $11 per month or $100 per year for Amazon Prime membership with video. Other channel add-ons available.
Video quality HD on Standard, UHD 4K and HDR on Premium HD with a paid plan HD, UHD 4K and HDR
Can you watch on multiple screens at once? Basic: No, Stardard: 2 screens, Premium: 4 screens Only 1 screen is officially supported, but in practice 2 or more are often possible Yes, three screens max
Where can you watch? Mac and PC browser, Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, Playstation, PS Vita, Nintendo DS, Xbox, Wii, Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV, Android TV, smart TVs and more Mac and PC browser, Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, Playstation 4, PS Vita, Nintendo DS, Xbox, Wii, Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV, Android TV, smart TVs and more Mac and PC browser, Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, Playstation 4, Xbox, Wii, Roku, smart TVs and more
Availability 130 countries, including US, UK and Australia US only US and UK

*Showtime is owned by CBS, the parent company of CNET.

Updated April 22 with additional information and corrections.