The best streaming services for everyone’s taste in 2021

Anton P. | July 30, 2021

The streaming wars intensify daily, with major providers competing for new clients. At the front of the pack, we have such dominant giants like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. However, many less mainstream platforms are polished gems waiting for their moment in the sun. 

Thus, streamers craving that uncharted content, less refined for the broad audience, might need to go deeper down the rabbit hole. In this post, we cover a range of popular and specialized streaming providers. Buckle up, as there will be options for free-stuff seekers, anime lovers, theater kids, and horror experts.

Universal streaming platforms for all

Sometimes the appeal is in simplicity. Mainstream streaming platforms are ideal for people loving various genres, from horror to goofy romantic comedies. 

Netflix 

The content Netflix bestows upon its clients is hard to beat. Its library has everything: from Netflix original series to blockbuster movies. Its pricing includes three plans, all depending on your budget and preferences: 

  • $8.99 for a basic monthly subscription. 
  • $13.99 for a standard monthly subscription. 
  • $17.99 for a premium monthly subscription. 

Please note that the prices might differ country-by-country. 

The biggest advantages of using Netflix include the following: 

  • Netflix original series and movies. Titles like The Witcher or Stranger Things have earned fame worldwide. On Netflix, you are sure to regularly experience such enchanting content, unavailable on other streaming providers. 
  • Comedy specials. Besides TV shows and movies, Netflix features a significant number of collaborations with various comedians. You can watch stand-up shows from Daniel Sloss, Tom Segura, Ricky Gervais, and Dave Chappelle.  
  • Thrilling documentaries. Documentaries do not have to be boring. Netflix brings a colorful palette of shocking content: from murder mysteries to political controversies. 
  • Various genres for all tastes. Netflix has a decent amount of titles in multiple genres and even secret sub-genres. Thus, this versatile library should satisfy the needs of most viewers. 

When it comes to disadvantages, Netflix is a bit pricey when compared to its rivals. Additionally, many beloved shows like The Office are no longer available (in the US) on this platform. The last downside of Netflix is its movie selection which might seem limited for more movie-crazed fans. 

Hulu 

Hulu is a streaming service that could offer the best value for your money. It features various titles and masterpieces like The Handmaid’s Tale. 

Hulu prices are as follows: 

  • $5.99 a month for an ad-supported basic plan. 
  • $11.99 a month for an ad-free premium plan. 
  • $64.99 a month for ad-supported on-demand streaming and live TV streaming. 
  • $70.99 a month for ad-free on, on-demand streaming, and ad-supported live TV streaming. 

Please note that the prices might differ country-by-country. 

The advantages of using Hulu are also impressive: 

  • A budget-friendly option. Hulu is an option for anyone hesitating to pay hefty sums. If commercials are not an issue, the basic plan is an ideal package. 
  • On-demand content plus live TV option. You can also choose plans that include access to live TV broadcasts. Users are also welcome to subscribe to channels like HBO, discounted bundle with Disney+, and ESPN+. 
  • Content from ABC, FX, and Fox. Hulu offers next-day streaming access to shows on some of the most popular networks. 

Unfortunately, Hulu might not be everything you expect. For one, its original content is not as impressive as that of its competitors. Additionally, ads might be a big turn-off for many users wanting an uninterrupted experience. One of the biggest shortcomings is that Hulu has a limited 4K streaming lineup. Furthermore, it does not support HDR. 

Also, please bear in mind that Hulu is not a global service. Despite being a wonderful place to watch quality television, Hulu is a US-oriented service. Thus, people from other countries will not be able to try it. 

Amazon Prime Video 

Amazon Prime Video features a mix of movies and shows. Most of them come available for free (with a subscription), such as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. However, Amazon Prime Video also allows its clients to rent/buy movies they wish to watch. This feature is unique as very few streaming services have it. Whether it is worthwhile, of course, depends on users’ preferences. 

Prices of getting Amazon Prime Video: 

  • $119 a year or $13 a month as part of an Amazon Prime membership.
  • $9 a month for Prime Video, without Amazon Prime. 

Please note that the prices might differ country-by-country.

Here are some of its strengths: 

  • Quality original content. Without a doubt, Amazon Prime Video has unlimited resources to produce shows and movies. Thus, most of its titles have impressive production teams behind them. 
  • Movies from festivals. Elite film fans will find sophisticated content potentially unavailable anywhere else. 
  • Adding content from specific TV channels. TV enthusiasts will be able to get titles from HBO or another channel for an additional price. 
  • Less mainstream library. Be it documentaries, classic films, or international titles: Amazon offers it all. Also, many independent films can easily be left in the shadows. Luckily, Amazon Prime Video helps you discover them all. 

As for the cons, we can think of a few. First of all, shows that are not Amazon originals are mostly all available for streaming elsewhere. In some cases, other sources might have more episodes uploaded for viewing. The next problem is that the rentable content is sometimes tricky to distinguish from the rest. And, since you can rent movies from Amazon without having a subscription, it might become unnecessary. 

Free or freemium streaming platforms 

Not ready for commitment? Free streaming platforms have your back. Of course, there are certain downsides to picking a free service. It will likely supply fewer viewing options than their paid counterparts. In other cases, you will have to sit through ads frequently interrupting your streaming. With this in mind, let’s jump right into the list. 

Peacock

The first service on this list stands proudly, and it is none other than Peacock. When it comes to free streaming, Peacock mirrors the reputation of Netflix. And it will soon become clear as to why:

  • Free to watch available shows and films. Peacock is the lair for many titles from NBCUniversal (like The Office). Additionally, it does feature some original content, but not too much so far. 
  • Live news and sports events. The service also offers some great content for sports enthusiasts. For instance, it became the official streaming home of WWE Network. However, it will only be available to premium users. 
  • Similar to watching TV. Peacock also attempts to recreate the feeling of tuning in to watch traditional TV. It has multiple channels for NBC’s news and sports and late-night programming. 

However, remember that the free tier of Peacock will show ads. It will also present a limited library, meaning you will need to choose paid plans to get more. Also, the fact that Peacock prioritizes NBCUniversal content might get tedious after some time. After all, the service does lack some newer titles, which might be a turn-off for some. But for a free service, Peacock does and offers a lot. It is worth a shot!

Pluto TV 

If endless scrolling through libraries is a pain, Pluto TV will help you escape it. It is a live TV video streaming service, which typically can be costly. Luckily, Pluto TV supplies various programs to keep you entertained for hours (and without paying a dime). 

Here are the main reasons why you might want Pluto TV in your life: 

  • Around 190 different live streams. Pluto TV offers channels like Wipeout, Dr. Who Classic, Comedy Central, Paramount Movie Channel, Fuse, Buzzr, and many more. 
  • Some on-demand content. For the most part, Pluto TV is all about, well, TV. Thus, its on-demand selection is rather slim. However, there are some movies and shows you can watch whenever you desire. 
  • 40 music channels. Ready to dance or listen to some tunes while you clean? Pluto TV offers a selection you cannot resist. 

The downsides of Pluto TV are clear. Firstly, it is more suitable for actual TV lovers than on-demand TV shows and films. Of course, it is not the best cable replacement as it lacks some prominent channels. 

Secondly, Pluto TV will show you ads, which is the primary way for the company to make money. And, as it would seem, the owners do not plan to introduce a premium service for an ad-free experience. 

Tubi

Tubi is a free streaming service that might put some providers to shame. Why? Despite being free, its library is more than impressive. 

Here are a couple of other reasons why Tubi might be your cup of tea: 

  • No need to create an account. All you need to do is open Tubi and find a movie or TV show you want to watch. That’s it! 
  • A broad selection of content. Tubi has almost every genre you might want. The providers also get creative with categories like “Not on Netflix.” 
  • A range of networks. Tubi provides access to content from Lifetime, Docurama, FilmRise, and more. Each network supplies different titles. For instance, FilmRise focuses on classic television shows. 
  • Tubi Kids and News on Tubi. Tubi also provides a mode exclusively for children. Once there, kids will only get access to content suitable for them. Additionally, News on Tubi gives access to live news broadcasts from providers like NBC News NOW and LiveNOW from Fox. 

As for the downsides, Tubi seems to have very few. The app and interfaces are relatively modern, and you should not experience any issues. However, the streaming resolution cap is 720p. Also, it does not offer an ad-free option. 

For theater and broadway fans 

Ready for some incredible talent on the live stage? The streaming services will bring remarkable stories to your screen. 

BroadwayHD

BroadwayHD is a specialized streaming platform dedicated to theater lovers. It features hundreds of musicals, opera, and concert performances. 

The available selection might seem less impressive than viewers are used to. However, its library is decently broad enough to get you hooked. 

The streaming service offers the following pricing: 

  • $8.99 a month after your free trial. 
  • $99.99 a year after your free trial. 

Please note that there might be additional taxes, and the price might differ by region. 

Of course, BroadwayHD is not something everyone will appreciate. However, if you enjoy watching classical adaptations, it can be a great addition. However, BroadwayHD does lack some of the theatrical hits. Thus, remember that its library might seem disappointing in some cases. 

Broadway On Demand 

While BroadwayHD might seem a little outdated, Broadway On Demand is a fresh service ready to conquer the theater world. Here are some of the reasons why you might want to opt for it: 

  • It is a free-of-charge service (mostly). All you need is an account, and you will become a basic subscriber. 
  • Offers pay-per-view events. You can purchase a ticket to the opera and stream the magnificent performance from your home. 
  • A decent selection of content. The library contains dozens of concerts, shows, web series, and adapted theater. 
  • Live theater and the chance to replay. The live-streamed events are available on the platform for a limited time. 

The “tickets” on Broadway on Demand vary in price. For one show, you might spend as little as $4. However, there are cases when you end up paying $40 or more. 

Broadway On Demand has its appeal, and virtual tickets are a clever idea. However, many users might feel reluctant to join. After all, most of the streaming world relies on subscriptions. Thus, the pay-per-view model might seem too unfamiliar. 

Lastly, the service itself could use some polishing. For one, the site is somewhat confusing and glitchy, which is not an enjoyable experience. 

Anime lovers

Watching anime can be a rollercoaster. Thankfully, these streaming platforms will always guarantee that you will land on your feet. 

Crunchyroll 

Unsure which anime series to watch? Crunchyroll is an anime streaming platform with an overwhelmingly extensive library. This service will give you endless options, which can be a blessing or a curse. 

The pricing is as follows: 

  • A free, ad-supported version. 
  • $7.99 for a Fan subscription. 
  • $9.99 for a Mega Fan subscription. 
  • $14.99 for an Ultimate Fan subscription. 

Please note that the prices might differ country-by-country.

As for the reasons why you should opt for Crunchyroll, here are some of them: 

  • A broad selection of content. Crunchyroll will spoil any anime fan. It has dozens of titles like Death Note, Black Clover, and My Hero Academia. Even older anime fans will find enough to entertain themselves for days. 
  • Strong support for simulcasts. Once an episode of an anime airs, it is likely that Crunchyroll will upload it within hours. It is excellent for anyone eager to watch how events unfold in their favorite animated work. 
  • More subtitled shows than dubbed. Whether it is a plus depends on your preferences. Many fans adore watching anime in its original form. Thus, the fact that Crunchyroll offers more subtitles could be a plus. 

Despite its advantages, Crunchyroll has its weaknesses. For instance, it does not support offline downloads on mobile devices. It might not be an issue, but something to consider. Additionally, Crunchyroll is not the most intuitive and user-friendly app. If you have used Netflix for quite some time, Crunchyroll will seem slower and more challenging to navigate. 

Funimation 

Funimation is, of course, similar to Crunchyroll. They both serve dozens of anime titles, and you might wonder which is better. Luckily, there are specific differences between them that could influence your decision. 

Funimation offers the following pricing: 

  • Free ad-supported version. 
  • $5.99 a month for a premium subscription. 
  • $7.99 a month for a premium plus subscription. 
  • $99.99 a year for a premium ultra plus subscription. 

Please note that the prices might differ country-by-country.

As for the advantages, here is what you can expect from Funimation: 

  • Hundreds of dubbed shows. As Crunchyroll focuses on subtitled content, Funimation is more about bringing dubbed anime to its fans. However, it also means that the library might not be as blooming with selections. 
  • Supports offline downloads. With specific premium plans, you can watch shows even when you are offline. 
  • Inviting interface. Some fans will find Funimation easier to navigate and use. Thus, you are less likely to experience unnecessary interruptions or lags. 

Overall, Funimation is worth your time if you like dubbed anime shows. If not, the platform might not be the one for you. Additionally, since professional dubbing takes time, you might wait longer for new releases. 

Horror lovers 

All the spooky and shocking stories live on these platforms. If you enjoy the terror and tension unfolding on the screen, these options might be for you. 

Shudder 

Shudder is a place specializing in serving horror content. Thus, you will find fictional scary movies and those inspired by true events. Of course, this streaming platform is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, if you are ready for a suspenseful evening, it is a well-built option. 

The horror-focused streaming platform offers the following pricing: 

  • $5.99 a month for a subscription. 
  • $56.99 a year for a subscription. 

Please note that the prices might differ country-by-country.

The main strengths of Shudder include: 

  • A huge catalog of horror. Other streaming platforms might supply limited content when it comes to terror. Luckily, Shudder has got you covered. Every single title will bring something terrifying to the table. 
  • Live events. The platform offers live events like popular movie marathons.
  • Live movie streams. Paid users get to watch random selections around the clock. It is great if you struggle to pick a title from the seemingly endless list. 

However, Shudder might seem glitchy at first if compared to other streaming platforms. Additionally, it is a rather specialized option. Thus, if your horror tolerance is low, it is unlikely that Shudder is for you. Furthermore, the platform rotates content regularly. Therefore, you might need to watch some shows quickly before they disappear. 

Screambox 

Screambox is another horror-focused platform for people looking for that intense adrenaline rush. So, if Shudder does not check all the boxes, you are welcome to consider this alternative. 

The pricing list of Screambox contains these prices: 

  • $4.99 for a monthly subscription. 
  • $35.88 for a yearly subscription. 

Please note that the prices might differ country-by-country.

Now, let’s dig deeper into the reasons why Screambox should be the one you choose: 

  • Many titles and stories. Screambox contains various categories for all appetites. For instance, you will find movies about cults, zombies, slashers, and even banned movies. If you are ready for some ultimate terror, try the extreme category. 
  • Lower-profile films. It might be a perk for some watchers ready to dive deeper into uncharted murderous stories. 
  • Exclusive content. The platform also features a range from people sharing stories or recommendations. For instance, The Homicidal Homemaker series contains some spicy content like horror recipes, cocktails, and crafts. 

However, Screambox might not be the best for those looking for blockbuster content. It does focus on more lower-profile films. 

Final notes 

Streaming wars do not have to end with you paying for every subscription possible. Depending on your preferences, pick those providers that offer catalogs worth your time and money. 

Of course, you cannot go wrong with Netflix. The major network offers content basically for every genre, be it anime or true crime. However, take your time to look at other options. For instance, those providing access to TV channels will be great for cord-cutters missing the traditional experience. Happy hunting!

Anton P.

Anton P.

Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.

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