Even if you have a color-coded spreadsheet of stores to hit, sales and gifts to grab this season, it's not a bad idea to have a backup plan. After all, holiday shopping was stressful enough before the pandemic, but this year's expected supply chain shortages might seem like a nail in the proverbial coffin for procrastinating shoppers.
In addition to helping you stay cozy at home as the weather gets colder, choosing a TV and movie streaming service are easy last-minute options that can arrive by email and won't go out of stock. Whether you purchase a gift card in-store or online, the service should have a dedicated section to redeeming gift card codes when your loved one wants to activate the subscription.
Before you go this gift-giving route, there are a few things to think ahead about. Your giftee will need a streaming device or smart TV to enjoy the service. (If they don't have one, congratulations! You've stumbled into another gift idea. CNET can help you navigateand .) In addition, once the gift card or gift subscription runs out, naturally, access to the service does too. If they want to keep using the service, they need to add a credit card for payments.
Here's a list of some of the most popular (and most niche) services you can give to family and friends this year:
Streaming veteran Netflix -- like Hulu -- offers gift cards online or in-store through retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Kroger. Netflix offers three subscription tiers -- Basic ($9 per month), Standard ($14 per month) and Premium ($18 per month).
Netflix is packed with movies, shows, documentaries and original content. With a subscription, you can also check out mobile games on the Netflix app for no extra charge.
You can purchase physical or digital Hulu gift cards through retailers like Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon, Walgreens, Kroger and Paypal. Hulu has a few different subscription tiers to choose from like basic Hulu ($7 per month) and ad-free basic Hulu ($13 per month). You can also subscribe to Hulu Plus Live TV ($65 per month) or ad-free Hulu Plus Live TV ($71 per month).
Hulu houses a huge catalog of movies, shows, documentaries and original content.
For more, read our Hulu review.
FIND THE PERFECT GIFT
Disney Plus offers new releases like Shang-Chi, classic Star Wars, Pixar and Marvel movies, as well as Disney Vault movies and fun documentaries. Disney Plus is currently offering a one-year gift subscription offer for new subscribers. A Disney Plus subscription normally costs $8 per month or $80 annually, but the service is offering a special that'll charge you only $2 for your first month. The deal runs through Nov. 14. You can also check out the Disney Plus bundle, which includes Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus for $14 per month.
For more, check out our Disney Plus review.
One of the most generous free trials around
Showtime, a more direct competitor to HBO, includes award-winning shows, movies, documentaries, pay-per-view fights and more. You can get a Showtime gift card at multiple retailers like Barnes and Noble, Best Buy, CVS, GameStop, Walgreens, Walmart and more. Showtime also offers gift cards for its online store, but those gift cards can't be applied to a streaming subscription.
Most recently, Dexter: New Blood, a continuation of the original series starring Michael C. Hall, premiered on the service. A Showtime subscription usually costs $11 per month, or $99 annually, but the service is running a limited-time special to pay $4 per month for your first four months after a free trial. You can also bundle Showtime and Paramount Plus for $12 per month after a 30-day free trial.
Paramount Plus, formerly CBS All Access, includes content from CBS, BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, MTV and the Smithsonian Channel, as well as sports content from the NFL, SEC and more. Paramount Plus' basic plan is $5 per month after a seven-day free trial. You can also upgrade to Premium for $10 per month after the free trial.
Bribox is one of my favorite niche streaming services. You can check out original content like The Long Call, riveting mysteries like Luther, The Fall, Poirot, classic comedies like Keeping Up Appearances and the Vicar of Dibley, dramas like Downton Abbey and MI-5 and so much more. Britbox costs $7 per month or $70 annually after a seven-day free trial.
You can give a one-year subscription of Britbox this holiday season with just a few clicks on the website.
No more breaking the bank buying theater tickets or scouring the dark corners of the internet for a bootleg. BroadwayHD includes musicals, Broadway classics, Tony Award winners, Shakespeare, ballet and more.
You can give one month of BroadwayHD for $12 or an annual subscription for $130.
Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime have plenty of Korean dramas (my heart personally hasn't recovered from Netflix's Crash Landing on You), but if you're looking for a dedicated service for Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese shows and movies. You can watch Viki for free with ads, or subscribe to Viki Pass for $50 per year or Viki Pass Plus for $100 per year. Viki Pass unlocks more shows and movies, presents content in HD quality without ads, as well as first access to exclusives, originals and more.
Unfortunately, the service doesn't have gift cards anymore, so if you want to buy a Viki Pass for a loved one, the best way is to buy a prepaid cash card for the recipient to put toward the subscription.
Apple TV Plus -- Apple's $5 per month streaming service -- has released some popular exclusive shows like Ted Lasso, The Morning Show, Dickinson and Schmigadoon. The service also has original documentaries and movies like Finch, starring Tom Hanks, Coda, and Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry.
There's not a dedicated Apple TV Plus gift card, but you can purchase a regular Apple gift card that the recipient can put towards their subscription.
In a similar vein to BroadwayHD, the theater-goer in your life might enjoy a subscription to Met Opera on Demand. The service includes full-length operas like Madama Butterfly, Die Walküre, Aida, Carmen, and more. Met Opera on Demand also includes a Live in HD series, which adds new titles every month.
Give your loved one a one-year Met Opera on Demand subscription for $150 through its website.
Sundance Now offers collections of award-winning dramas, thrillers, documentaries, true crime, international movies and more. The service is a great spot to explore high-quality, off-the-beaten-path titles like One Million American Dreams, God's Own Country, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, She's Beautiful When She's Angry, and more.
The service costs $7 per month or $60 annually after a seven-day free trial. Sundance Now doesn't offer subscription gifting, but you can always buy a prepaid cash card for the recipient to put toward the subscription.
Just because stores have swapped out Halloween decor for Christmas trees doesn't mean scary movies should be shelved too. Shudder is the ultimate streaming service for horror movie fans. With a subscription, you can watch classics like Children of the Corn and Carnival of Souls, as well as Shudder Originals, sci-fi, creature features, psychological thrillers and more.
A Shudder subscription costs $4.75 per month after a seven-day free trial. Like some of the other services on this list, it doesn't offer a dedicated gift card, but you can buy a prepaid cash card for the recipient to put toward the subscription.
The film buff in your life will love a subscription to the Criterion Channel.The service includes more than 1,000 classic, contemporary, art-house, international and independent films. With a subscription, you can check out films like Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps, An Affair to Remember, Bride of Frankenstein, Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush, Paris is Burning, Frances Ha and more.
You can order a gift subscription to the Criterion Channel on its website. Choose a one-month subscription for $11, all the way up to a year for $100.
You can find a good selection of anime on other streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu, but Crunchyroll is a well-known hub for manga, games, news, as well as popular anime shows like Attack on Titan, Bleach, My Hero Academia, Death Note, Inuyasha and more. You can use Crunchyroll for free, but the Premium tier unlocks an ad-free, HD-viewing experience across multiple devices. In addition, you'll get early access to anime titles within about an hour of the original broadcast in Japan, as well as discounts on DVDs and more.
Crunchyroll offers three premium tiers -- Fan ($8 per month), Mega Fan ($10 per month) or Ultimate Fan ($15 per month) after a 14-day free trial. You can gift a premium subscription tier through the website.