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The best streaming services in 2021: Netflix, Disney Plus, Sling TV & more

best streaming services
(Image credit: ONOKY - Eric Audras)

Switching on the TV to watch one of the best streaming services is a great way to relax after a long day at work or school. But with so many to choose from, how do you find the best streaming service for you?

It was all so simple a few years ago when Netflix was the one service around – but now the market has exploded with competitor services, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV Plus, Disney Plus, HBO Max and more. With gripping content and some very competitive pricing, it's easy to see why some users are starting to consider services beyond Netflix. 

• Read more: Apple TV VPN

With the best streaming services mostly sitting around the $10-15/mo mark, you can sign up to multiple services without breaking the bank. However, with more and more platforms popping up each year, it can still be a confusing experience trying to figure out which ones are best for you. 

Luckily, we've narrowed down the best streaming services to help you find the right platform(s) for you. If you're a lover of Star Wars and Marvel, then Disney Plus is a must-have, with a fantastic range of original TV shows and movies scheduled over the next few years. Meanwhile, if you're wondering how to watch HBO Max and make the most out of it, this platform has some classic fan-favorites, including Friends, Sex and the City and Game of Thrones. 

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Alternatively, you might want to bag a few extra incentives with your chosen service – Amazon Prime Video features unlimited One-Day Delivery on Amazon parcels, unlimited cloud photo storage and more. Plus, with Amazon Prime Day 2021 just around the corner, this might just be the right time to finally sign up.

So, without any further ado, read on below to discover which platforms will be the best streaming services for you…

The best streaming services online 

best streaming services

(Image credit: Netflix)

01. Netflix

Quite simply one of the best streaming services around

There's literally something for everyone
Amazing original content
Pricier than others
Some content disappears after the license runs out

Netflix has become known for its excellent roster of original material, which kicked off with dramas such as Lilyhammer and House of Cards. Netflix has only grown more prolific with its offering of original content, with big hitters such as The Witcher, Bridgerton, The Queen's Gambit, Tiger King and Stranger Things becoming massive draws for the streaming giant. 

However, Netflix also offers an excellent back catalogue of old favorites, such as Community, Avatar: The Last Airbender, RuPaul's Drag Race, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Better Call Saul and more. 

The one downside to Netflix revolves around the content that it licenses. Veteran Netflix viewers will remember when beloved shows such as Friends were taken from the platform once the licensing agreement ran out. Another frustrating aspect is that you can only view certain content depending on which region you're streaming from. However, this is a problem for any streaming service that licenses content, so you'll run into it elsewhere as well. Aside from this, Netflix is definitely one of the best streaming services around. 

best streaming services

(Image credit: Disney Plus)

02. Disney Plus

One of the best streaming services for Star Wars & Marvel fans

Huge roster of upcoming shows
Great back catalogue
Competitive pricing
Not many original shows so far
Service can occasionally be buggy

Disney Plus has only been out for just over a year, but it's already become one of the best streaming services around. Featuring content from National Geographic, Marvel, Star Wars, Fox, Pixar and (obviously) Disney, there's plenty of TV shows and movies to sink your teeth into. 

At present, there's only a handful of original content on the platform, but that's all due to change over the next few years. Disney Plus has announced a huge roster of upcoming content, including shows revolving around Obi-Wan Kenobi, Boba Fett, Loki, She-Hulk, Hawkeye and much more. 

Plus, the original content we've seen from Disney Plus has been excellent so far. Both seasons of The Mandalorian are essential viewing for any Star Wars fan, while WandaVision looks to be a quirky continuation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that could be setting up the next phase. 

best streaming services

(Image credit: Sling TV)

03. Sling TV

This is the best streaming service for live TV

Cheaper than cable
Lots of content
No contract
Cost can build up quickly with additional packages
Limited on-demand content

With the rise of streaming services, you might find yourself lamenting the loss of real-time TV channels. However, there is a happy medium between shelling out a huge chunk of money for your cable subscription and subsisting solely on a patchwork of streaming services. 

Sling enables you to pay a monthly subscription of $35 ($30 for existing subscribers until summer 2021) for around 30 real-time TV channels, including NBC, BBC America, CNN, Cartoon Network, the Food Network, TBS and a variety of ESPN channels – making it especially useful for sports fans. 

best streaming services

(Image credit: FuboTV)

04. FuboTV

Love your sports? This is the best streaming service for you

Lots of channels
Niche sports networks
No ABC/ ESPN
Quite expensive

Like Sling TV, FuboTV enables users to have access to cable channels without a forma cable subscription. While it's more expensive than Sling TV (at around twice the price!), FuboTV's standard plan offers over 120 channels, including almost every major broadcast and cable network. 

In fact, if you're a sports lover, FuboTV is probably the best option for you on this list. The recent inclusion of ESPN means that FuboTV is now the best streaming service for NFL fans, as it has all of the major broadcast networks and the NFL Network as well. However, FuboTV also has plenty to offer those who aren't quite as into their sports – with networks such as NBC, Fox, AMC, MTV, Syfy and more available as part of its standard package. 

best streaming services

(Image credit: Amazon)

05. Amazon Prime Video

No other service has the additional perks of Amazon Prime Video

Comes with free music, ebooks and next-day delivery on Amazon products
Great original shows
Some content costs extra

If you're already an avid Amazon shopper, then Amazon Prime is essentially a no-brainer. Not only do you get free Prime shipping on your purchases, but you also get a free Kindle book month and unlimited access to Amazon Music and Amazon Prime Video. 

Prime Video features a decent selection of original content, including The Man in the High Castle, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Grand Tour, The Boys, Good Omens and more. Even more excitingly, the upcoming Lord of the Rings prequel TV show will be housed on Prime Video – although it's uncertain whether it will hit its originally planned 2021 release date. Prime Video also includes content from Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and HBO – including access to The Sopranos and The Wire. 

The only frustrating aspect of Prime Video is that some content costs extra to view, meaning that you have to shell out an additional chunk of money on top of your Prime membership. 

best streaming services

(Image credit: HBO Max)

06. HBO Max

Some of the best TV and movies are housed on HBO Max

Fantastic original content
Great back catalogue
Quite expensive
Only available in certain regions

HBO Max is a relatively new streaming service, but it's brought in the big guns to help it attract users in an increasingly competitive market. Not only do users get access to HBO's classic content, such as Sex and the City, Veep, Game of Thrones and Westworld, but there's also non-HBO content as well, including Wonder Woman 1984, Friends and the Studio Ghibli library.

It also looks as if HBO Max will only become more competitive as time goes on. There will be a Gossip Girl reboot and a Sex and the City reboot coming to the platform – plus, Game of Thrones fans might finally see some redemption with the House of the Dragon prequel slated for release in 2022. 

• Read more: How to watch HBO Max

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Louise Carey

With over a decade of photographic experience, Louise arms Digital Camera World with a wealth of knowledge on photographic technique and know-how – something she is so adept at that she's delivered workshops for the likes of ITV and Sue Ryder. Before joining the site, her formidable hands-on abilities served her well as features editor for Practical Photography. Louise currently shoots with the Fujifilm X-T200 and the Nikon D800, capturing self-portraits and still life images.