8 Premium Movie Streaming Services

Embrace your inner movie buff by trying out these streaming sites

Watching Netflix on an iPad, remote for television nearby
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When it comes to watching movies online, you have two main choices: download pirated movies that are low in picture and sound quality, or sign up for one of the many movie streaming services that are now conveniently (and legally) available.

If you can't be bothered to scour the web for a specific movie that only results in something blurry and muffled, your best bet is to pay the small fee it takes to use a streaming service. Here are eight that are worth checking out.

01
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Netflix

Netflix on iPad connected to Apple EarPods next to a cup and saucer of coffee on a wood floor

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What We Like

  • Unlimited movies and TV shows with no commercials.

  • No commitment. Cancel online at any time.

  • Download content for offline viewing.

What We Don't Like

  • Basic subscription (of three plans) doesn't include HD.

  • Current episodes of TV shows aren't immediately available.

  • Slow to update content.

Netflix is by far the No. 1 most-used online streaming service, not only for movies but for many popular TV shows as well. With thousands of titles to choose from and new ones added every month, it's hard to say no to this kind of variety, especially with absolutely zero ads or commercials. If you're a big movie buff, in particular, Netflix is definitely the streaming service to try first.

Free trial period: One month

Subscription fee: From $7.99 a month

02
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Hulu

Hulu logo on Samsung mobile phone screen

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What We Like

  • Features current and past episodes of TV shows.

  • Contains lots of original content.

  • Streams on many devices including smartphones, tablets, Xbox, and Apple TV.

What We Don't Like

  • Limited and no commercial plans cost more.

  • Can't watch movies and TV offline.

  • Movie selection isn't as good as TV selection.

Hulu is one of Netflix's main competitors, offering similarly good variety in popular shows and movies to watch. Some say it has a better selection of content. Unlike Netflix, however, Hulu integrates some advertising into the viewing experience. In addition to Hulu's free and much more limited membership, you can sign up for two different premium memberships—one of which offers limited commercials and another that removes commercials completely.

Free trial period: One month

Subscription fee: From $7.99 a month

03
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Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video interface on Roku

Roku/Amazon

What We Like

  • Included with Amazon Prime subscription.

  • No commercials.

  • Runs on computers, mobile devices, game consoles, and streaming media players.

What We Don't Like

  • Doesn't include most recent episodes of current TV shows.

  • Some recent movies are available only to rent or buy.

  • Not supported on Chromecast.

You can get almost anything from Amazon, even the latest and greatest movies to watch. Amazon Prime Video is a service included in an Amazon Prime membership. It gives you access to thousands of titles without any added rental or purchase fees, although some movies include purchase options along with the free streaming option.

Prime Video is also available as a separate service for people who don't have an Amazon Prime account.

Free trial period: One month

Subscription fee: From $8.99 a month or included in Amazon Prime membership.

04
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Apple iTunes

Apple iTunes with the Wonder Woman movie at the top

What We Like

  • Includes newly released movies and TV shows.

  • Season passes for individual TV shows available.

  • No commercials.

  • Listings include detailed synopsis, trailers, cast information, and reviews.

What We Don't Like

  • Pay per title to rent or buy.

  • Compatible with Apple devices and Windows computers only.

  • 4K movies only 4K when played on an Apple TV 4K with suitable hardware and internet connection.

If you own any Apple devices, you probably already know about iTunes for music and app downloads. It's also one of the most popular ways to enjoy your favorite shows or movies. Rent or buy to view in standard or high definition, and watch the content on your laptop, your phone, or any device that works with iTunes.

Rent/buy fees: As low as $0.99 for a 30-day rental, three-day start-to-finish watch period and up to $19.99 to buy

05
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Google Play

Google Play main interface for Movies & TV

What We Like

  • Offerings include new-release movies and current episodes of TV shows.

  • Filter by genre, top charts, and new releases.

  • Search for family-only fare or for specific networks.

  • No commercials.

What We Don't Like

  • Some new content is expensive.

  • Pay per movie or show, so it's not a good financial choice for heavy users.

  • Can't purchase shows from mobile devices, can only view shows bought from a computer.

Even Google offers its own selection of movies and episodes. If you're an Android user, Google Play is your version of Apple users' iTunes. Like iTunes, there are options to buy all sorts of popular TV show episodes, complete seasons, and movies in standard or HD formats that you can watch on the web or on your mobile devices. Browse by movies, TV, studios, or even networks.

Rent/buy fees: As low as $3.99 for a 30-day rental / 48-hour start-to-finish watch period and up to $39.99 to buy.

06
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Vudu

Vudu web interface for Movies category

What We Like

  • Vast selection includes current TV seasons.

  • Includes a large section of movies that are free with ads.

  • Playable on a wide variety of devices including PC and Mac, Chromcast, Roku, video game consoles, Apple TV, and more.

What We Don't Like

  • Frequent users find Vudu expensive when they venture out of the free section.

  • The free movies come with advertisements.

Like Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play, Vudu is another streaming service that lets you rent or buy popular television and film content. There aren't any free trials, but the site offers some movies and TV shows free with ads. The purchase and rental prices are all about the same as for other competing services, but picture quality is said to be one of the best features that Vudu has to offer. It also offers as many great features as Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime Video.

Rent/buy fees: As low as $0.10 for rentals and up to $29.99 to buy.

07
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YouTube Movies & Shows

YouTube Movies main Home page

What We Like

  • Movies include new releases, modern, and classic films for rent or purchase.

  • Solid selection of movies that are free with advertisements.

  • Purchase current and vintage TV shows by individual episode or season.

What We Don't Like

  • Other services offer higher-quality video.

  • Not many filtering options.

  • Requires browsing in categories.

Everyone knows YouTube is one of the premier places to go for watching all sorts of videos. If you're lucky, you could type in a movie title and be able to watch it for free on YouTube, but you may get a pirated version that was uploaded recently. These videos are often low in quality, though, and YouTube eventually takes them down. YouTube offers a Movies & Shows section where you can browse through high movies and many current television shows.

Buy fees: As low as $3.99, and up to $32.99 to buy.

08
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Vimeo

Vimeo On Demand web page

What We Like

  • Vimeo is easy to use.

  • Many movie entries include trailers and synopses.

  • Supports the works of lesser-known filmmakers.

What We Don't Like

  • Don't look for newly released blockbusters here.

  • Relatively small user base.

Next to YouTube, Vimeo is another popular video sharing platform that's best known for supporting independent filmmakers. When you select a film to buy and watch, ninety percent of the revenue after transaction costs goes toward the creators. While you won't find any big-name Hollywood titles here, you'll certainly find many gems from up-and-coming filmmakers who are just trying to share their work with an audience.

Buy fees: As low as $1.00 to rent and upward of about $25.00 to buy.