Ultimate guide to streaming in 2022: Which streaming service is right for you?

Family having popcorn while watching TV

Portra / Getty Images

With so much content out there to watch, from movies to TV shows to docuseries, from reunion specials to big televised events as the 2022 Academy Awards or March Madness, sometimes it’s hard to keep it all straight.

The top products in this article:

If what to watch and where you can watch it are questions often on your mind these days, then this guide is for you. With so many separate streaming services producing headline-grabbing original shows and Oscar-nominated movies, it’s understandable to feel confused about which platforms are worth the subscription cost.

Whether you just cut that cable cord, or you’ve been a Netflix purist since the age of the DVD mail-in service, and are looking to branch out, CBS Essentials has analyzed the most popular streaming platforms by pricing and content, so that all you’ll need to worry about is what to watch first. Keep reading to learn which streaming service is right for you, plus how to stream through Roku and other devices. 

Still searching for what to stream next? Be sure to check out the CBS Essentials guide to what’s new on Amazon Prime Video, what’s new on Paramount+, what’s new on Hulu and more

Why you should subscribe to Amazon Prime Video

For pre-existing Amazon Prime subscribers, using Prime Video as your go-to streaming platform is practically a no-brainer. The streaming service comes at no extra cost to Amazon Prime subscribers, and boasts tons of titles, including Amazon Originals such as “Reacher,” “The Wilds,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “I Want You Back,” alongside other popular shows like “Fleabag” and “Good Omens.”

Prime Video makes renting any titles that aren’t available for free on the platform fairly easy and hassle free; that function it is already connected to your Amazon account. Right now, you can rent many of the 2022 Oscar nominees for best picture, including “Belfast,” “Dune,” and “King Richard” on Prime Video.

How much does Amazon Prime Video cost?

If you aren’t already subscribed to Amazon Prime and just want to gain access to the Prime Video library, a membership to Prime Video is available for $9 monthly. Prime Video also offers a 30-day free trial. 

Prime Video, free with Amazon Prime

What to watch on Prime Video right now: Upload


Liane Hentscher/Amazon Studios

After ending on a killer cliff hanger, this sci-fi dramedy series is finally back for its sophomore season. “Upload” takes place in a future where people have hacked death by creating a digital afterlife they can “upload” into when their time comes. The show follows Nathan, a computer programmer who is uploaded into a luxe virtual afterlife by his overbearing girlfriend following a mysterious accident. The series stars Robbie Amell, Andy Allo and Allegra Edwards and comes from the mind of Parks and Recreation co-creator Greg Daniels. The first season of “Upload” is available to stream now on Prime Video, so there’s still time to catch up ahead of season two’s March 11 premiere.

Prime Video, free with Amazon Prime

Why you should subscribe to Hulu

Hulu was an early giant of the streaming world, and is currently known for hosting new episodes of TV shows within 24 hours of a primetime premiere, unlike other platforms such as Netflix, where subscribers often have to wait until a season is finished and binge it all in just a few sessions. Hulu also offers access to live TV through its platform with the Hulu + Live TV plan, which gives you access to everything in Hulu’s streaming library, plus more than 75 live TV channels, and access to sports such as the NBA playoffs, MLB playoffs and the NFL Network. Hulu + Live TV subscribers can also easily stream most award shows, including the 2022 Academy Awards

Hulu boasts a wide array of popular originals such as “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Pen15,” “Little Fires Everywhere,” “Only Murders in the Building,” How I Met Your Father,” “Pam & Tommy” and more. But the convenient nature of Hulu means many popular shows that air on TV will also make their way onto Hulu the following day, like “The Bachelor,” “Abbott Elementary” and “Rick and Morty.”

How much does Hulu cost?

Hulu’s most basic, ad-supported plan costs $7 monthly, while its ad-free counterpart costs $13 monthly. The price of Hulu + Live TV, which also includes access to Disney+ and ESPN+, starts at $70 a month, but for an extra $6, you can get the Hulu + Live TV ad-free plan. If you’re a new user, you can also try any tier of the platform free for 30-days.

Hulu, $7 and up per month

What to watch on Hulu right now: The Dropout

The Dropout, Iron Sisters

Michael Desmond/Hulu

Hulu’s new limited series, “The Dropout,” tells the true story of Elizabeth Holmes and how the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire lost everything. The series was inspired by a hit ABC News podcast, which investigated Holmes and her now-defunct company, Theranos. Amanda Seyfried and Naveen Andrews star in this twisted series, with a supporting cast that includes Utkarsh Ambudkar, Kate Burton, Michel Gill, LisaGay Hamilton, William H. Macy, Elizabeth Marvel, Laurie Metcalf, Dylan Minnette, Alan Ruck, Sam Waterston, Michaela Watkins and more.

Hulu, $7 and up per month

Why you should subscribe to Netflix

Probably the most familiar of the streaming services, Netflix started as a mail-based DVD rental service, before streaming platforms came to dominate TV and movies. A huge part of the service’s appeal still comes from the wide range of movies available on the platform. But Netflix also has some award-winning original series, such as “Stranger Things,” “The Crown” and “BoJack Horseman.” This year, Netflix also saw two of its original films, “The Power of the Dog” and “Don’t Look Up,” receive Oscar nominations for best picture.

How much does Netflix cost?

The most basic Netflix plan starts at $10 per month for access to the streaming platform (on just one screen at a time) and the ability to download titles (on just one device.) The “standard” plan bumps screen and device allowances to two per account for $15 monthly, with HD viewing capabilities, and the “premium” plan allows you to watch and download titles on up to four screens at once and view in Ultra HD when available. Netflix currently does not offer a free trial.

Netflix, $10 and up per month 

What to watch right now on Netflix: The Power of the Dog

Oscars 2022: How to watch all the best picture nominees


Phil Burbank is a wealthy, charismatic cowboy who runs a ranch with his two brothers. When one brother brings a new wife and son home, Phil ruthlessly torments them at first, but then appears to have a change of heart. Starring best actor nominee Benedict Cumberbatch, best supporting actress nominee Kirsten Dunst and best supporting actor nominee Jesse Plemons, “The Power of the Dog” is now streaming on Netflix. 

Netflix, $10 and up per month 

Why you should subscribe to HBO Max

With titles such as “Euphoria,” “And Just Like That,” and the entirety of the Harry Potter film series, as well as being the only streaming service with access to every Studio Ghibli film, HBO Max has set itself apart from the crowd.

How much does HBO Max cost?

If you already subscribe to HBO or HBO Now, then congratulations, you most likely have access to a free HBO Max subscription. If you’re a new subscriber, an ad-supported plan will cost you $10 per month, and an ad-free one will cost $15 per month. Currently, the only way to get an HBO Max free trial is through the Hulu add-on.

HBO Max, $10 and up per month 

What to watch on HBO Max: Drive My Car 

Drive My Car

Bitters End

A recently widowed stage actor needs someone to serve as his chauffeur, and a 20-year-old girl ends up being the perfect candidate. “Drive My Car” is a story of unlikely friendship and and the continuation of life through grief. This four-time Oscar nominated film, by Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi, is now streaming on HBO Max.

HBO Max, $10 and up per month 

Why you should subscribe to Peacock

Peacock is NBCUniversal’s streaming service that, unlike other streaming services on this list, offers a totally free, ad-supported tier that grants access to a limited number of titles in the Peacock library. The platform is now the exclusive home to some popular, binge-worthy sitcoms such as “Parks and Recreation” and “The Office,” as well as the streaming hub for any major sporting event airing on NBC, such as this year’s Winter Olympics and the 2022 Super Bowl. Sports are a huge part of Peacock’s appeal, with live Premier League, WWE and golf games all available for Peacock premium subscribers. 

How much does Peacock cost?

Peacock has three tiers — a free, ad-supported tier that grants you limited access to titles in Peacock’s library, an ad-supported premium tier for $5 monthly or $50 annually, or an ad-free premium tier for $10 monthly or $100 annually.

Peacock, $0 and up per month

What to watch on Peacock right now: Joe vs Carole (March 3)

Joe vs. Carole - Season 1

Mark Taylor/Peacock

Hey, all you cool cats and kittens: a new scripted show based on the subjects of Netflix’ “Tiger King” is coming. “Joe vs Carole” is a limited series adaptation of the 2019 Wondery podcast, “Joe Exotic: Tiger King.” The series stars Kate McKinnon and John Cameron Mitchell, alongside a supporting cast which includes Kyle MacLachlan, Peter Phan and Nat Wolff. “Joe vs Carole” centers on cat enthusiast Carole Baskin as she sets out to shut down Exotic’s big cat breeding ventures. This wild new series is now streaming on Peacock.

Peacock, $0 and up per month

Why you should subscribe to Disney Plus

Disney fans can finally rejoice, because (almost) all their favorite titles are now in one place. Disney+ has everything from nostalgia-filled Disney Channel Original Movies, to every Marvel title, both shows and movies (except for poor Spiderman). The platform is jam-packed with kid-oriented content, but also has plenty of documentaries such as “Free Solo,” and a backlog of adult-geared ABC shows including “Once Upon A Time.”

How much does Disney Plus cost?

A Disney+ subscription costs $8 per month. Currently, Disney+ does not offer a free trial.

Disney+, $8 per month 

What to stream on Disney Plus right now: Turning Red 

Turning Red

© 2022 Disney/Pixar

Pixar’s newest straight-to-streaming film follows Mei Lee, a typical 13-year-old girl. She’s going through all the usual struggles of becoming a teenager, plus one, weird bonus thing: When she gets too emotional, Mei Lee turns into a giant red panda. “Turning Red” stars Rosalie Chiang and Sandra Oh, and features three new original songs written by Grammy-winning duo Billie Eilish and Finneas (who also voices a boy-band member in the film). This family-oriented animated movie premieres March 11.  

Disney+, $8 per month 

Why you should subscribe to Paramount Plus

If you love ViacomCBS content such as MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon or anything related to “Star Trek,” then Paramount+ might be for you. The platform is the exclusive streaming home for all things Nickelodeon, boasts five Paramount+ original series in the “Star Trek” universe, and was the streaming home for last year’s Emmy Awards. Paramount+ has a slate of exciting upcoming projects, including a new series based on the “Halo” franchise, set to premiere in March 2022. Plus, in honor of Paramount+’s birthday, the platform is running a special birthday offer for new subscribers. 

You can see what’s new on Paramount Plus this month here.

Paramount+ and CBS Essentials are both subsidiaries of Paramount.

How much does Paramount Plus cost?

Paramount+ currently has two subscription tiers available: The Essential plan is ad-supported and costs $5 per month, granting access to the platform’s entire library, plus NFL on CBS and UEFA Champions League available via separate live feeds. The Premium plan is ad-free and includes access to your local live CBS station for $10 monthly. You can also try Paramount+ free for one week.

Now through March 7, new subscribers can take advantage of a special deal: Paramount+ is just $1 per month for the Essential Plan, or $2 per month for the Premium Plan, for the first three months. Use the code BIRTHDAY to take advantage of the offer.

Paramount+, $1 and up per month

What to watch on Paramount Plus right now: Halo 



Pablo Schreiber stars in this exciting new series based on the best-selling Xbox Game Studios first-person shooter game, “Halo.” The show, puts a new spin on the central storyline — about a massive war far in the future — while still bringing the original feel of the video game franchise to life. The action-packed series follows Master Chief, a super-soldier trained to battle an alien group known as the Covenant. But, when Master Chief has to confront his own humanity, everything changes. The first season of “Halo” premieres March 24, and the show has already been renewed for season two.

Paramount+, $1 and up per month 

Why you should subscribe to Apple TV Plus

Despite getting much less public attention versus other streaming platforms, Apple TV+ has some of the most talked-about original series of the last few years, including “Ted Lasso” and “The Morning Show,” as well as the Oscar best-picture-nominated “CODA.”

With no back catalog of content, you won’t see a constant stream of new titles, a la Prime Video or Netflix. What Apple TV+ lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality, with big-budget original series you won’t be able to get anywhere else. Most recently, the platform has released “The Afterparty,” and “Suspicion,” and has a new Adam Scott-led show, “Severance” coming to Apple TV+ on February 18.

How much does Apple TV Plus cost?

Apple TV+ costs $5 monthly, but if you’ve recently bought a new Apple device, there’s a high chance it comes with three months of Apple TV+ for free. You can also try the platform free for 7 days.

Apple TV+, $5 per month

What to watch on Apple TV Plus right now: CODA


Apple TV+

Ruby is a CODA — a child of deaf adults — and the only hearing member of her family. She wants to pursue singing at college, but worries about leaving her family on their own. Starring Marlee Matlin, Emilia Jones, Daniel Durant and the best supporting actor-nominated Troy Kotsur, “CODA” is streaming exclusively on Apple TV+. 

Apple TV+ $5 per month 

How to access streaming services on your TV:

Streaming platform apps are accessible via popular smart TVs and streaming sticks such as Amazon Fire sticks and Roku devices. If you’re in the market for a new, streaming compatible TV, keep reading to check out some tempting deals. 

Roku Express 4K+


Roku via Amazon

Enjoy 4K picture quality and voice control via a Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant that lets you search across channels, turn on captions and more. It features dual-band wireless for smooth streaming, and an HDMI cable is included to connect the Roku to the TV. The Roku Express 4K+ does not require a smart TV to work, but it does require a TV with an HDMI input. While some Roku devices support older TVs with an A/V input, this one does not.

“I can finally have the apps I want and not worry about storage running out on my TV,” reviewer Lotte says. “It’s very easy to set up and use. The remote is very simple and easy to learn.”

Roku Express 4K+, $39

Roku Streaming Stick+


Roku via Amazon

The Roku Streaming Stick+ has a long-range wireless receiver and allows Bluetooth streaming. It also includes all the features of the Roku Express 4K+ in a smaller, easier-to-conceal device. Instead of connecting to a television via wires, it connects directly to an HDMI port. Note that the Roku Streaming Stick+ still needs to be connected to a power source — either via a TV USB input or a wall outlet.

“It doesn’t have the same bells and whistles that my Roku Ultras have…but then again, I also paid nearly twice as much for those,” reviewer K. Krueger says. “This Stick+ is much cheaper and provides basically the same user interface and playback performance.”

Roku Streaming Stick+, $35 (reduced from $45)

Amazon Fire TV Stick with 4K Ultra HD: $25

Amazon Fire TV Stick with 4K Ultra HD

Best Buy

Or, try an Amazon streamer with a new Wi-Fi antenna design optimized for 4K streaming. The Amazon Fire TV Stick pairs with compatible Bluetooth headphones and comes equipped with Alexa-enabled voice-control technology. 

Amazon Fire TV Stick with 4K Ultra HD, $40 (reduced from $50)

The best TV deals right now

If you prefer to forego the movie theater in favor of streaming the best new movies at home, it might be time to upgrade your home theater. Keep reading to check out the best deals on smart TVs, TV stands and more. 

58″ Samsung class 4K Crystal UHD LED smart TV with HDR: $478

Samsung 58

Samsung via Walmart

This 58-inch LED smart 4K TV from Samsung features a processor that can upscale your favorite HD shows and streams.

Samsung 58″ class 4K Crystal UHD LED smart TV with HDR, $478 (regularly $600)

55″ JVC 4K Roku smart TV: $298 [WALMART+ EXCLUSIVE]



Looking for a television with Roku built-in? While it may lack the bells and whistles of the fancy OLED and QLED television models, this 55-inch smart 4K TV from JVC is certainly priced to sell: just $298. It makes a great budget television for a kid’s room.

Note: This deal is restricted to Walmart+ members only.

55″ JVC 4K Roku smart TV, $298 (regularly $428)

Charmma TV cabinet

Charmma TV Cabinet


This affordable TV cabinet from Walmart, reminiscent of a popular Ikea find, has three sliding drawers for storage. This white TV stand measures 47.2 inches long by 13.4 inches wide and offers a clean, modern look.

(For more options, check out our favorite TV stands you can buy online.)

Charmma TV cabinet, $171

Related content from CBS Essentials: