From Netflix to Spotify, Game Pass and beyond: Give the gift of a subscription this year

Buying a gift for someone who has plenty of "stuff"? Go for a Netflix, Spotify, Amazon Prime or other subscription instead.

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Buying a subscription service for someone has never been easier. There are more services now for more things than ever before. However, choosing which service to gift, well that's where the difficulty lies. Which is why we've simplified your subscription service choices into top threes, over three different categories: video streaming, music streaming and console gaming

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Video streaming services

Top pick: Amazon Prime

An Amazon Prime membership not only gets you free two-day shipping on certain items, but also access to Amazon's vast library of video content, including movies, TV shows and a growing host of original content.

And that's just where the Prime benefits start.

Price: $119 per year.

Also consider:


Netflix is the de facto video streaming service. Its greatest strength is its original shows you can't watch anywhere else, like Stranger Things, the current Marvel Netflix shows like Daredevil and Jessica Jones , Orange Is the New Black, Black Mirror and Narcos. There's also cult revivals like Fuller House and Mystery Science Theater 3000.

It's also host to a large number of new and old movies and TV shows. However, each month it loses its license to certain content and gains the ability to stream others. So, you need to pay attention, but this is rarely a big issue.

Price: $8 for basic (non-HD, one device at a time); $11 for standard (HD, two devices at a time); $14 for Premium (4K and up to four devices can watch at the same time).


Hulu/ Hulu Plus

Hulu has both old and new (day after) episodes of TV shows as well as old and recent movies. There are also original Hulu shows like The Handmaid's Tale, Castle Rock and The Mindy Project.

The biggest draw right now, however, is the live TV option. You also have the option to add on HBO, Cinemax, Starz and Showtime. There are also bundles to get a couple of add-ons at a discount. 

Price: Hulu: $6 per month for the first year and $8 thereafter. The no-commercials option is $12 per month. You can add live TV for $40 per month and $44 per month for no commercials.

Music streaming services

Top pick: Spotify

With a vast music catalog and compatibility with most devices, Spotify is our top pick. And if you don't want to pay anything, Spotify offers the best features of any other service.

Andrew Altman/CNET

Price: The free plan lets you shuffle songs among many other things. $10 per month -- $1 for three months for a limited time -- gets you access to downloads, no ads, unlimited skips, every song in the Spotify library and high quality audio tracks.

Also consider:

Apple Music

Apple Music can be played on pretty much every Apple device, Android and on PC. It also offers a digital locker to store your own songs.

Price: Apple Music starts at $5 per month for students, $10 for individuals and $15 for families.


Here's why you choose Tidal over the other two: It offers the best audio streaming quality, some exclusive music from Beyonce, Jay-Z, Kanye and other artists, and if you're a hardcore hip hop fan, there's a big focus on underground artists you'd likely not otherwise have discovered.

Price: There's a bunch of plans, but the ones most will be interested in are the $9.99 Premium plan and the $19.99 HiFi option that includes lossless high fidelity sound quality.

Top console gaming services

Top pick: Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live

Game Pass lets you download and play new games on Xbox One and nets you access over 100 older games as well. It works on all versions of Xbox One and Microsoft has announced plans to bring the service to the PC.

Live lets you play multiplayer games and offers free and heavily discounted games every month.

Price: Normally, $10 a month for Game Pass, but from now until Jan. 3, 2019 you can join for $1. $60 per year for Xbox Live Gold or $10 a month.

Ashley Esqueda | CNET

Also consider:

PlayStation Plus

For PlayStation 4 owners, PS Plus offers the same basic benefits of Xbox Live Gold: the ability to play multiplayer games, free games and heavily discounted ones every month.

PlayStation Now

PlayStation Now lets you stream PS4, PS3 and PS2 games on the PS4 or PC. You can download PS4 or PS2 game for the PS4.

Price: $20 for PS Now and $10 per month for PlayStation Plus.

Ashley Esqueda/CNET

Nintendo Switch Online

If you own a Switch this is your only method for getting online and playing multiplayer games. You also get cloud saves and access to an ever-growing number of classic NES games

Price: $20 per year, $4 per month or $8 for three months.