The top streaming services for 2021

It feels like every week a new streaming video service pops up, and after awhile it almost feels impossible to keep track of them, let alone figure out which one is best for you. Last year a number of major players like HBO Max, Peacock and Discover+ made splashy debuts, just in time for people in quarantine desperately looking for entertainment and distraction.

Established streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and YouTube remain solid choices for streaming, but if you like the idea of adding something new to your lineup, check out our list below highlighting some of the best options we could find.

Overall streaming service

It’s hard to pick out a “best” when it comes to an overall streaming service that fits almost all your needs, but for now many consider the Disney+ bundle to be at the top. The bundle comes jam-packed with a massive catalog of originals, popular franchises like Star Wars, Pixar, and Marvel, as well as National Geographic documentaries, Hulu and all its content, and ESPN+. That’s a lot, so if you’re looking for a one-size-fits-all, this might be worth looking into.

Note: If you subscribe to the Disney+ Bundle, here’s a great guide from Gizmodo for how to get the most out of your subscription.

Live TV streaming

For those who want more live TV viewing as part of their streaming experience, there are two strong options: Hulu+ Live TV and YouTube TV.

Hulu+ Live TV: With this live streaming service, you get all of Hulu’s library of originals, TV series, and movies as well as more than 60 live and on-demand TV options, including news and sports.

YouTube TV has more than 70 channel options and allows for unlimited storage space with recordings stored for up to 9 months. Plus, the service supports up to six individual user accounts and streaming on up to three devices at once.

Premium experiences

For 2021, if you want to see the latest movies and exclusive cutting-edge release content, you’ve got to check out HBO Max. In addition to HBO Max’s own exclusive content—including documentaries, stand-up comedians, sports, and content for kids—the service also features hubs for Studio Ghibli, Crunchyroll, Adult Swim, the DC catalog, Turner Classic Movies, and Cartoon Network, among others. Plus, every Warner Bros. film release in 2021 will debut on HBO Max on the same day those movies premiere in theaters, at no extra cost to subscribers.

Budget-friendly

If you’re more interested in adding some budget-friendly streaming choices, check out the following free or low-cost options.

Peacock: NBCUniversal’s Peacock comes at two levels – free and low-cost. Their paid version  includes thousands of hours of content as well as live and linear TV. For the free version you’ll get roughly half of that, but still a fairly solid collection of movies and shows to stream.

Pluto TV: If you’re interested in replicating the channel-surfing experience of traditional over-the-air programming without all the fancy stuff, Pluto TV is free and worth a try.

Amazon Prime: While this technically isn’t free – nor is it brand new – it’s worth mentioning because so many people don’t realize they already have access to it. If you are a member of Amazon Prime, you have free access to Amazon Prime TV’s streaming service with lots of free movies and series as well as highly rated original programming.

Free with Purchase: Another possibility to watch for is free streaming subscriptions that come with a purchase. For example, Apple TV+ is free for a year for users who buy a new Apple product. Disney+ is free for a year for Verizon users, and HBO Max is free for AT&T subscribers on certain plans.

Kristy CooperThe top streaming services for 2021