Gone are the days when the only streaming services you had to worry about were Netflix and Amazon Prime. For better or worse, there’s more competition these days. That means more content, more choices, and more headaches for viewers. Cutting the cord isn’t as simple as it used to be.
One benefit of having 10 streaming services is the ability to rank the five that you actually use from worst to best. Keep in mind that this is from the point of view of a single writer who can only watch so much content in a day (even if it’s more than I’d like to admit). Without further buffering, enjoy binging my list of the best streaming services of 2022 (for American viewers).
5. Paramount Plus
I originally subscribed to Paramount Plus to watch the Halo series. That show was a huge disappointment, so I found myself surfing the home screen for an alternative. That led me to another flagship Paramount Plus show, 1883 starring Tim Mcgraw, Faith Hill, and Sam Elliot. The quality of the production and writing had me hooked and I decided to keep my subscription.
With a solid horror selection that includes every Scream movie and the binge-worthy TV series Evil, Paramount Plus is an affordable alternative or addition to traditional streaming services. I wouldn’t say that it’s paramount that you subscribe but the new streaming service certainly earned its spot on the list.
4. Amazon Prime Video
Amazon’s Prime Video and Netflix traded spots as the number one and two streaming services for years. Prime still offers plenty of great content and if you’re already an Amazon Prime subscriber, you get all of it for free. In some ways, that makes the streaming service the best bang for your buck.
But Amazon’s Rings of Power has done some irreversible damage to one of the greatest franchises on Earth (Middle or otherwise). The huge promotional push followed by the lackluster showing was enough for me to demote the streaming service, especially considering the stellar performance of the top streaming service on the list.
Prime still has a lot going for it. Season 3 of The Boys was an improvement over the second installment and The Devil’s Hour is must-see TV. With plenty of feedback and cash to spend, perhaps Amazon is primed for a comeback in 2023.
Netflix was the one who started it all. It replaced your friendly neighborhood Blockbuster and the world never looked back. For years, networks and franchises looked to get on board the Netflix wave. Disney was happy to lend its IP to the industry titan. Then, these companies started waking up to the fact that they could start their own streaming services. And that’s exactly what happened. Netflix made its name by disrupting traditional media and now, in an ironic twist, traditional media has disrupted Netflix.
The king has fallen and its stock has fallen with it. As if to kick a streaming service while it’s down, it was recently announced that Henry Cavill has exited The Witcher. With the show’s prequel series Blood Origin panned by critics and audiences alike, the franchise is in major jeopardy.
But it’s not all doom and gloom over at Netflix. The fourth installment of Stranger Things was the best season since the first and the show Wednesday starring Jenna Ortega was wildly popular. The Sandman and 1899 are also above-average additions to Netflix’s roster.
Netflix is also the only service on the list that doesn’t feel the need to qualify itself with a term such as plus, prime, or max. The name is still synonymous with streaming and while it seems unlikely, it’s possible that the king might one day reign again. Hey, we’ve all seen stranger things.
2. Disney Plus
Disney’s decision to leave its Netflix deal and start its own streaming service has definitely paid off. For viewers with children, this is hands down the best streaming service. With all the Disney classics, Marvel movies, and Star Wars content — the entertainment is nearly endless.
That’s not to say there hasn’t been a few duds. Obi-wan Kenobi was inconsistent and She-Hulk divided Marvel fans. Despite a few questionable additions, Disney’s growing catalog is a powerhouse that will keep the entire family happy.
1. HBO Max
For years, HBO confused American viewers with its multiple streaming services. HBO Now and HBO Go finally combined into HBO Max and the world is now a better place. Before the advent of Netflix, HBO was the go-to channel for premium television. Shows like Sopranos and Rome set the standard for quality TV and now it seems that HBO is reclaiming that reputation.
From the neo-noir The Batman to series like Raised by Wolves and Euphoria, HBO Max shines with its beautifully unsettling content.
But it was House of the Dragon that earned HBO the top spot on this list. The show delivered everything you could want (and more) from a Game of Thrones prequel. Showrunners informed audiences that the hit show wouldn’t be back until 2024, so it will be interesting to see how HBO keeps viewers entertained while we wait.
As the streaming wars wage on, our bank accounts will suffer but at least we can drown our tears in endless, binge-worthy content.