Loading...
Tech Trend

The Best Video Streaming Services for 2022

Streaming services started as an add-on to DVD and digital download offerings with a trickle of second-run movies and TV shows. They were supplements to the programs you watched on their first (and second) runs on cable TV. But speedier internet connections and an abundance of media streaming devices have accelerated the decline of traditional cable. More and more viewers are cutting the cord entirely in favor of dedicated streaming alternatives.

Entertainment and tech giants are not blind to the threat, however, and the media landscape is rapidly changing. Consolidation and curation (that is, owning the most media properties and serving the best content) seem to be the overarching goals of the players involved.

Stay up to date with the latest streaming hits with our recurring feature on what to watch this weekend. Does your home’s Wi-Fi coverage not extend to your backyard oasis? We also have story on how to download videos from every video streaming service for offline playback.

Even though you may not be able to be in the same physical place as your friends and family due to COVID-19, you can still watch the same shows together. HBO supports Scener, a remote co-watching tool, and you can use the Netflix Party Chrome extension to sync that service’s video playback across devices. Hulu ad-free subscribers, Amazon Prime Video members, and Plex users also get co-watching features. Disney+ is the latest service to add co-watching capabilities.

New Channels and Consolidation

The competition between video streaming services has never been tougher, so some media companies are banding together. For instance, CBS and Viacom merged (again) and launched Paramount+. AT&T announced plans to merge WarnerMedia with Discovery to form a new streaming giant. Amazon is reportedly buying MGM for $9 billion, too, which should considerably boost Prime Video’s library.

The increasingly competitive streaming market is not without consequences. Consumers who may have originally been attracted to the flexibility that streaming services offer over cable, now must navigate a crowded and constantly shifting nightmare of streaming rights and new services, many of which continue to rise in cost. Live TV streaming services are also struggling to adjust to the rising costs of broadcast rights from cable channel owners. The price of just about every one of these services has increased considerably over time.

The Catalog Is Everything

As mentioned, a video streaming service’s success largely depends on what its library offers. That’s why so many services are investing heavily in developing high-quality original content. Consider, for example, Netflix’s Stranger Things, Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, all of which are Emmy-winning shows. Without these hooks, standalone video streaming services would likely be unable to compete with existing entertainment behemoths. Several platforms have also saved popular shows from the grave in an effort to build a compelling library. For instance, Roku brought back all the originals from the ill-fated Quibi.

Apart from on-demand video streaming services, complete cable-replacement services are now just as mainstream. Some of the best live TV services, for example, such as Hulu and YouTube TV, offer robust lineups of local, news, sports, and lifestyle channels. Others have specialties. For instance, DirecTV Stream is the best option for regional sports networks (RSNs) and Philo is custom-built for lifestyle and entertainment fans. Locast used to be an inexpensive option for watching local channels, but that service has since shut down.

Can You Stream Sports Online?

Sports fans may worry that they won’t be able to watch live sports when they ditch cable. However, that’s simply not the case. Many of the video streaming options we reviewed are also among the best sports streaming services. Regardless of whether you want to watch regional, national, or international sports, there is a service that meets your needs. Although blackouts and cancellations may still apply, these streaming options offer distinct advantages over cable, including full-featured apps on many platforms and simultaneous streaming capabilities. Check out our roundup of the best NFL streaming services, best MLB streaming services, best NBA streaming services, and the best NHL streaming services for specific recommendations.

Other Video Streaming Options

Smaller and sometimes cheaper options also exist with a more specific focus. For example, Crunchyroll, Funimation, RetroCrush, and VRV primarily are among the available anime streaming services. Check out our roundup of the best free video streaming services, if you want to reduce the amount you spend on streaming subscriptions each month. Explore our article about the best video streaming services for celebrating Black art, too.

Horror fans need not fear ditching cable either; check out our roundup of the best horror streaming services. We even curated lists of the best horror films and scary original shows.

Cinephiles should read our coverage of the best movie streaming services, to date. And if you’re after something more educational, our roundup of the best documentary streaming services is a good place to start.

Although it is not what typically comes to mind, Vimeo also offers a small selection of indie films and video projects via its On Demand section. If you want to watch people play games, Twitch is your best bet.

Plex is yet another option for streaming your local media content, over-the-air cable (provided you have the right hardware), and an on-demand library that now includes all of Crackle’s library. Open-source software Kodi offers similar media-management functionality.

You should use a virtual private network (VPN) for all your internet-related tasks, but VPNs are particularly useful for streaming services since they can sometimes grant access to region-locked content. For example, if you connect to a VPN server in the UK from a device in the US, you may be able to watch free content from BBC TV. That said, streaming services are cracking down on VPN usage, so we recommend signing up for a trial to test your network setup before fully committing to a service. Make sure to check out our guide on how to unblock Netflix with a VPN as a starting point.

If you want to cut the cord, here’s our rundown of what you can expect from the most popular services. You shouldn’t fall into the trap of paying more for video streaming services than you did for cable, so make sure to only sign up for those that offer the content you actually want to watch. If we missed your favorite option, make sure to let us know in the comments.

Best Video Streaming Services Featured in This Roundup:

Kanopy

Free

If you have a library card or a current university email address, you can access Kanopy for free. This streaming service offers a huge collection of high-quality films and documentaries from distribution giants such as A24, Bleecker Street, HBO Documentary Films, Paramount, PBS, and Samuel Goldwyn Films. Kanopy also has a dedicated section for kids ages two and older. The one main drawback to Kanopy is that it limits the number of titles you can watch each month. This restriction, does not, however, apply to the content in the Kanopy Kids section.

Kanopy supports an unlimited number of simultaneous streams per account and does not show ads, but it does not support offline downloads on mobile devices. One cool feature of Kanopy is that you can record quick clips of content for sharing on social platforms. Kanopy is available on the web, mobile platforms (Android, Fire OS, iOS), and media streaming devices (Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, and Roku), but not game consoles.

Netflix

$8.99 per month

Netflix is the standard-bearer of streaming. It hosts an impressive selection of content at all times, with new titles exchanged for older ones monthly. And then there’s Netflix constantly growing library of premier original programming, which still outclasses every other streaming service. Netflix’s impressive catalog includes shows such as Altered CarbonBlack MirrorBojack HorsemanDead to MeMindhuntersOrange is the New BlackRussian DollStranger ThingsThe CrownThe OAThe Umbrella AcademyThe Witcher, and Unbelievable. Unfortunately, Netflix has lost top titles such as Friends (to HBO Max) and The Office (to NBC’s Peacock). Looking for new anime shows? Netflix has pledged to launch 40 new anime series in 2021.

Apart from its original movies, such as El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie and The Irishman, Netflix also currently offers the most high-quality movies of any streaming service, eclipsing competitors such as Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and HBO.

One of the problems with Netflix’s seeming endless lineup of content is that you might not know what you should watch next. Once Netflix’s Shuffle Play feature launches later this year, that will hopefully be a problem of the past. The rumored N-Plus content hub and Netflix’s upcoming ‘Geeked Week’ virtual event seems poised to address this discoverability problem and build out fan communities.

Netflix recently raised the price of each its two higher-end subscription plans. For $8.99 per month, you can stream unlimited standard-definition content on a single device. The Standard tier, which now costs $13.99 per month (up from $12.99), unlocks HD content and supports streaming on two devices simultaneously. The top-of-the-line Premium plan costs $17.99 per month (up from $15.99). This tier gives you four concurrent streams and access to 4K content where available. Notably, Netflix no longer offers a free trial option, but says that it is notnot cracking down on password sharing.

You can download Netflix on a variety of devices, from your PC and tablet to the Chromecast and game consoles. And yes, you can finally disable the obnoxious auto-playing previews. Other new Netflix features include Screen Lock on Android devices, which prevents unintentional screen taps, and more parental control settings, which allow you to better restrict content and profiles.

Alongside Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, and Disney+, Netflix is one of the few streaming services that supports both offline downloads and 4K and HDR streaming (now on Macs, too). And yes, Netflix’s DVD mailing service still exists if you want newer releases, though streaming is clearly its primary business.

CuriosityStream

$2.99 per month

Are you tired of mindlessly watching reruns of your favorite show? Try to learn about something with the documentary-focused CuriosityStream. The service offers a massive collection of informational and entertaining features in categories such as History, Kids, Lifestyle, Nature, Science, Society, and Technology. David Attenborough and Sigourney Weaver are among the hosts of the top-notch titles on CuriosityStream. There’s also a kid-specific section on the platform. Make sure to check out our roundup of the best online learning sites if you are interested in expanding your knowledge potential.

The service offers two pricing tiers that offer the same documentaries. The only difference is that the more expensive plan ($9.99 per month) unlocks 4K streaming. CuriosityStream supports offline downloads on mobile and doesn’t show any ads either. You can download the app on mobile devices (Android and iOS), gaming platforms (Xbox One), streaming media devices (Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, and Roku); and smart TVs.

Read more:The Best Video Streaming Services for 2022

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *