While we won’t be rushing to our local theaters to see this summer’s ‘box office smash’ nor will we be crowding around our big screen TVs to watch the Olympics, we are fortunate to be living in the age of Online Streaming Services where choices abound.

Recent spikes in COVID-19 cases will most likely keep us closer to the comforts of home, but we have a plethora of options for viewing fan favorites and new series alike. The good news to come out of our effort to stay close to home is that there are options beyond cable.

So how do we decide what is the best Online Streaming Service for our family? Several factors should be taken into consideration including cost, availability, and most importantly, viewing selections. What shows and genres will you have access to on each service? Will they be original, limited series or classic, hard-to-find favorites? Which streaming service has the best content for our needs?

Here is a brief overview of the Top Five Streaming Services plus three up-and-coming services:

1. Netflix:  The top-dog of video streaming has evolved from DVD sales and rentals by mail into a powerhouse of original content-based movies and TV series. In addition, Netflix  brings us shows from the recent past which are perfect for binge watching (think Breaking Bad). If you missed The Last Dance on ESPN, Netflix is bringing this engaging documentary about the basketball career of Michael Jordan to its streaming service on July 19.

2. Disney+:  Who doesn’t love Disney and all it’s magic? The initial draw is for children and families, but in order to appeal to parents too, Disney+ is offering a package that includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN for one modest monthly fee. As of July 3, Disney+ brought Hamilton from the stage into our homes, and millions of subscribers have been singing the catchy show tunes ever since.

3. Apple TV+:  The gadget giant is now part of the subscription video streaming services market featuring Apple’s own original TV shows and movies. The company’s CEO touted Apple TV+ as “unlike anything that’s been done before,” and from the start, they aggressively launched the now popular The Morning Show with superstars Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston as the leads. Apple does not hesitate to bring in the big names.

4. Amazon Prime:  While Amazon hasn’t quite taken over the world yet, their streaming service is very competitive in price and offerings with an extended library of movies and TV shows from a variety of genres. The list of movies titles provided on Amazon is constantly growing, and it may be one of the largest, including almost any James Bond movie, perfect for a date night!

5. Hulu:  This American subscription video on demand service has been making waves with original series such as The Handmaid’s Tale and Little Fires Everywhere, providing enough conversation to keep us coming back for more. Hulu is fully controlled and majority owned by Disney organizations and offers a bundle package which includes Disney+ and ESPN, a perfect offering for the entire family.

6. Peacock:  New to the streaming game, Comcast-owned NBCUniversal launched Peacock last week and offers 20,000 hours of shows, including movies, news, sports, and exclusive big-budget original programming. Peacock provides the opportunity to view past summer blockbusters like Back to the Future or sitcom fun of Parks and Recreation.

7. fubo TV:  This lesser known streaming service has been around since 2015, picking up steam along the way. Heavily sports based, fubo TV offers over 100 channels which also includes live news and entertainment programming. Slightly higher in price per month than other streaming services, they will be adding ESPN in August for the real sports fans.

8. HBO Max:  Jumping into the streaming rage, WarnerMedia has added HBO Max to the mix. The familiar brand bundles HBO favorites with well-known movies and TV series plus new Max originals. Bringing back all 236 episodes of Friends plus a Friends Reunion Special is pure genius!

Once you make the decision for a streaming service best suited for your family, be creative in your viewing. Raise an old bed sheet in the great outdoors, invite the neighborhood, and watch Hamilton on your own big stage, or keep the fun indoors with grown-up cocktails and munchies when your book club comes over to view the film version of Little Fires Everywhere.

You have choices beyond cable, so have some viewing fun!



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