The Best Streaming Deals for Social Distancing
By now, many companies across the US and world have asked their employees to work from home due to the COVID-19 crisis. If you’re one of those employees, you may be wondering what to do during your unexpected time at home not working. We’ve put together all the best deals for streaming services out there, so that you can catch up on all those shows you’ve missed over the last few months!
COVID-19 has affected the entire world, even closing every Disney park on the planet. Given many of us are now work-at-home for the foreseeable future (including us at Brad’s Deals), you should be finding yourself at home more than usual.
At Brad’s Deals, we’re all about saving you money, so we compiled a guide of the top streaming and rental services to help make this decision a little easier for you and your wallet. We’ve broken it down into three sections: apps (Like Netflix, Hulu etc), devices (like the Roku, Apple TV etc), and other (like libraries).
Our Favorite Online Movie Streaming Apps
Streaming apps are essentially databases filled with streamable content, which you can download to and access from your streaming device. Most streaming devices allow you to download multiple apps, which we will cover in the streaming device section. For now, let’s dive into the apps themselves: how much they cost, what kind of content they host, and which is right for you.
Pros: Disney+ is the most kid-friendly service offering on our list, because what kid (or kid-at-heart) hasn’t enjoyed their content since birth? With most of all the Disney movies, television shows, and documentaries ever made on the service, there is extreme value to be found for a low price of $6.99/month. Making the deal even better, the bundle with ESPN+ and Hulu saves 25% off the price of buying the services individually.
Oh, and for those bored at home, great news:
The Walt Disney Company announced that Frozen 2 will be available three months ahead of schedule on Disney+ in the U.S. beginning Sunday, March 15, surprising families with some fun and joy during this challenging period: https://t.co/e8u14EIskB pic.twitter.com/zCgjNysicY
— Walt Disney Company (@WaltDisneyCo) March 14, 2020
Cons: There are some movies and shows missing that you may love, due to previous streaming contracts. And, new exclusive shows are few and far between, though more are coming in 2020.
Price: $99/year for the general public, and $49/year for college students.
Pros: Prime membership comes with unlimited instant video streaming, unlimited FREE two-day shipping on every order, unlimited ad-free Prime Music access, photo storage, early access to deals and sales and more. Amazon Instant Video can be streamed on a variety of Smart TVs and Blu-ray players as well as on the PlayStation 3, the Playstation 4, the Xbox 360, the Xbox One, the Wii, the Wii U, the iPhone, the iPad, Kindle Fire tablets, Roku devices, Fire TV and some Android phones. Plus you can watch the Golden Globe-winning new show “Transparent,” and whatever they come out with next!
Cons: In my opinion, Amazon Prime Instant Video’s website interface is a little bit confusing and harder to use than that of its main competitor, Netflix, and Netflix’s selection of TV shows and movies is slightly better as well.
Bonus: 1 month free trial!
Best suited for: Amazon shoppers. If you love to shop on Amazon, paying the $99 a year for unlimited free shipping is majorly worth it! Plus, if you are a movie lover, and already have a device to stream videos on, this service is perfect for you.
Price: $5.99/month, $11.99/month with no ads.
Pros: Hulu allows you to keep up with your favorite shows – both network and cable – even if you don’t have a cable subscription.
It features unlimited access to new episodes of ABC, NBC, FOX and CW programs, and it’s available to stream on: iPhone, iPad, iPod, Android, Kindle, Nook, PlayStation 3, PlayStation4, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Apple TV, Roku, TiVo, Amazon Fire TV, Funai Streaming Player, Netgear Media Players, Google Chromecast, and, of course, your personal computer.
Cons: Small movie selection compared to Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video.
Best suited for: The TV lover. Hulu Plus features full seasons of a variety of TV shows for a small price. If you love keeping up with the newest episodes of your favorite TV programs, Hulu Plus is a great option for you.
Price: $8.99-$12.99/month for streaming-only plans
Pros: Netflix has the by far largest selection of movies and TV shows, including full seasons of cable programs that you will not find on Hulu Plus. It also available on almost every kind of streaming device. Like, seriously, the list of Netflix-compatible devices is so long that I don’t really have room to list them all here, but luckily there’s an entire Wikipedia page devoted to the subject, so if you’re curious, give that a look.
Cons: New releases are delayed by up to a month, and it doesn’t have new episodes of TV shows like Hulu does.
Bonus: 1 month free trial!
Best suited for: The extreme movie and television watcher. If you plan on streaming movies and TV shows on a daily basis, Netflix is the right choice for you.
CBS All Access
Cost: 7-Day Free Trial, then $5.99/month.
Pros: Some exclusive shows like the Twilight Zone have gotten critical praise, as well as a full library of legacy CBS shows (like the original Star Trek series).
Cons: Only CBS content, so if you’re not a fan of some of their shows, you’re out of luck.
Cost: 7-day free trail, after that, $4.99/month. Those that purchase a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, or Mac get one year free.
Pros: Many of us have gotten a new Apple product within the last year, so we received a free trial of the service.
Cons: Shows were largely lackluster, and not many of them (17 at last count).
Price: $2.99-$5.99 for a 2-day rental, and movies are also available to purchase. $99 cent first rental for new sign ups.
Pros: No contract, no monthly subscription, and no late fees. Vudu also features the biggest selection of HD movies and TV shows. Even more convenient, you can set up your Vudu account with your Walmart account. Vudu streams instantly on:
- PlayStation 3
- PlayStation 4
- HD televisions
- iOS Devices
Cons: No DVD or Blu-ray by mail service.
Best suited for: HD Lovers. If streaming your movies and TV shows in HD is important to you, then Vudu is the perfect choice. Vudu boasts a great selection of HD movies and TV shows.
Price: 7-day free trial, then $14.99/month
Pros: HBO is arguably the most important television network in history, and its impressive lineup of decades worth of hit shows will absolutely have something for everyone. Between classics like Westword, Game of Thrones, Sex and the City, The Sopranos, True Blood and The Wire, an HBO Now subscription will help you keep up with the TV snobs who gather at the water cooler every morning. HBO Now is available on most streaming devices.
Cons: Their movie selection is small, but high quality.
Best suited for: The “Golden Age of TV” obsessive. If you want access to all the best, highest-budget shows of the past 20 years (and today!), it doesn’t get much better than HBO.
Price: Customizable, but starts at $20/month for a basic package.
Pros: Sling is essentially a customizable cable replacement. With plans starting at $20/month, you can get access to networks like Comedy Central. AMC, HGTV, Cartoon Network, Disney, ESPN, TBS, the Travel Channel and much more… and that’s just at the entry level price. It also lets you customize based on country and language, so if you’re a British expat living in the U.S., you can still watch all your favorite BBC programs – same goes for some Indian channels, French channels, Chinese channels and many other international networks. Sling TV is available on most streaming devices.
Cons: This can get kind of expensive if you need all the sports extras, HBO access, Cinemax, etc. At some point, you have to ask yourself whether you just want to buy an old-school cable package
Bonus: 1-week free trial!
Best suited for: The cord cutter. If you love your cable, but hate having to shell out hundreds every month to mega-corporations with poor customer service just to get the basics, Sling TV is a great alternative.
Pros: Did we mention it’s free?! Crackle has a rotating selection of interesting movies and classic old TV shows to choose from. These are mostly older options, but there are some top-quality films available, which make those “OMG I FORGOT ABOUT THIS MOVIE!” moments pretty frequent.
Cons: No new releases, lots of annoying commercials, and a lot of random sludge to trudge through as you search for something watchable.
Bonus: It’s free, y’all!
Best suited for: The cheapskate. If you don’t care too much about keeping up with the latest movies and shows, but still want a seemingly endless variety of streamable content at your fingertips, Crackle is a no-brainer.
For the record, there are LOTS of other streaming sites out there, most of which we didn’t cover here. To read more about different streaming app options, check out this related article.
Our favorite streaming devices.
Streaming devices allow you to access the apps we listed above (and many more) from your television. We have a whole host of deals live in our Electronics section. Keep in mind, devices like Smart TVs have streaming capabilities built-in.
Other ways to watch movies!
Sure, we’re living in the digital age. But that doesn’t mean the ONLY way to watch a movie these days is to stream it. There are still other ways to get snuggly on the couch with a bowl of popcorn. Here are two of our favorites.
Price: $1.50/night per DVD; $2/night per Blu-ray disc; $1-3/night per PS3, Xbox 360, or Wii game
Pros: Cheap prices, plenty of Redbox locations, and an app to reserve your movie pick before you even arrive at the Redbox kiosk make this movie rental service the most convenient and economical. Plus, Redbox features games for Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii consoles, so you can test out a new game without buying it first.
Cons: New movie releases often do not arrive to a Redbox for a few weeks after its initial release date. Plus, Redbox has not yet released TV show titles for rent. Perhaps most importantly, you have to actually leave your house to pick up a movie, which is pretty upsetting if it’s winter.
Bonus: Join Redbox Play Pass for a free movie night after every 10 rentals. Also sign up for text and email alerts for coupon codes for free rentals!
Best suited for: The casual movie watcher and gamer. Redbox offers DVDs, Blu-ray, and games on the cheap. If you are not into instant streaming, but occasionally rent movies or games, this rental service is definitely for you.
Price: Totally free!
Pros: You can do more than just take out books with a library card. Most public and university libraries also have a wide selection of DVDs, video games and Blu-ray movies available to rent at no charge. For free! You can also rent audio books and CDs! Yay!
Cons: You’ll never really know what you’re going to get. Depending on the library and the time you go, there’s always going to be a random assortment of movies to to choose from, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find any new releases anywhere on those shelves.
Bonus: Did I mention this is FREE??
Best suited for: The old-fashioned individual who misses the thrill of browsing for movies at Blockbuster (RIP), and doesn’t mind digging through an messy array of DVDs to find a cool flick to watch.
When it comes to choosing a movie streaming or rental service, we recommend that customers consider about how much they plan on using the service, and what devices you already own that can enable streaming on your TV (such as Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 4, Blu-ray player, or Xbox One). As far as cost is concerned, the Google Chromecast or Roku is probably the best bargain if you don’t already have a way to stream movies directly on your TV.
If you plan on streaming movies and TV shows 4-7 days a week and want a wide variety of titles, Netflix is our choice for you. If you want to keep on top of the latest TV and don’t care much for movies, pick Hulu. Amazon Prime is a little pricier at $99/year (one year of both Netflix and Hulu amounts to a little under $96/year), but they’ve got a growing selection of movies, free (!!!) 2-day shipping, and a wide variety of other services to keep you occupied. If you are looking to simply unwind with on a Friday night with a movie, head to the library or your nearest Redbox.