what movies can you stream online?
Movies available to stream on a service depend on distribution rights. it’s similar to the way live TV streaming services must negotiate with cable channel owners for broadcast rights. services that already own the rights to large catalogs of content (or have the money to get the streaming rights) have an advantage. Take, for example, four of the biggest names in the media business: Comcast (Peacock), Disney (Disney+), ViacomCBS (Paramount+), and WarnerMedia (Hbo Max).
comcast owns several movie studios, including dreamworks animation, lighting, and universal pictures. disney+ has classic disney movies, marvel movies (but not all marvel movies), pixar animations, and star wars movies. viacomcbs owns paramount images. WarnerMedia’s HBO Max includes movies from Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema, plus it has exclusive streaming rights to Studio Ghibli movies in the United States. Warner Bros. announced it will release 10 movies on hbo max the same day they hit theaters in 2022.
netflix and prime video aren’t backed by the traditional media giants, but they still have large (albeit ever-changing) movie libraries. Netflix also offers a physical disc rental service, called DVD by Netflix, which greatly expands its library. prime video has many classic movies. Check out our features on what’s coming to Netflix and Prime Video to keep up with streaming deals.
both netflix and prime video also produce original movies, some of which have been critically acclaimed. Some of the best Netflix original movies are The Road: A Breaking Story, I Care A Lot, The Irishman, Ma Rainey’s Black Butt, Rome, and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Prime Video’s best original movies to date include Honey Boy, I’m Not Your black, Manchester By The Sea, One Night In Miami, Sound Of Metal, and The Big Sick. Part of the reason Amazon and Netflix need to produce their own titles is that some of the traditional media powerhouses are making exclusive movies for their own services. however, they both still have about the same amount of quality movies. hulu doesn’t produce many original movies, but it is owned by disney, which probably has some financial advantages.
apple tv+ does not license content from the traditional media giants and is therefore in the unenviable position of creating most of its content in-house, although it has acquired some movies and documentaries. this means that its movie library is extremely limited compared to other streaming services. On top of that, Apple TV+’s focus seems to be on creating original series rather than original movies. In any case, the most notable Apple TV+ movies available for streaming are The Banker, The Elephant Queen, The Greyhound, Hala, and The Wolf Walkers.
other services have a more specific focus. the criterion channel focuses on classic and foreign films. filmatique, mubi and ovid.tv curate a rotating library of independent films and documentaries. angelika anywhere allows you to rent or buy streaming movies selected by the chain of arthouse cinemas. Check out our roundup of the best documentary streaming services, if that’s your main interest.
kwelitv is one of the best video streaming services to celebrate black art. Tubi and Crackle, which are completely free services, offer a selection of popular movies from years past, though you probably won’t recognize a good portion of the titles in their libraries.
Please note that you won’t be able to watch the latest movies from traditional movie giants on these services; There is often a theatrical release window for a movie, which allows it to qualify for awards.
do movie streaming services support 4k, hdr and surround sound?
Some video streaming services support high-end video and audio standards. Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, and Prime Video all support streaming in 4K, for example. Other movie streaming services go beyond 1080p streaming, including Criterion Channel, Filmatique, Kwelitv, Mubi, Ovid.tv, Peacock and Shudder. crackle and tubi have maximum streaming resolutions exceeding 720p.
Some services, such as Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Netflix, and Prime Video, support HDR streaming (either HDR10 or Dolby Vision). Support for higher-end audio standards (5.1 surround sound, Dolby Atmos, or Dolby Digital Plus) is more common. apple tv+, disney+, hbo max, hulu, netflix, prime video, and tubi all support at least one of these standards.
Please note that not all movies on these services are available to stream in the absolute highest quality. the best way to find content that supports these high-end audio and video standards is to look for them in a service’s interface.
You also need a playback device that supports these standards. Check out our roundups of the best streaming media devices, projectors, smart TVs, and sound bars to find all the best AV equipment, keeping in mind that some services restrict higher playback standards to certain devices. For example, Netflix subscribers on Mac recently got the ability to stream in 4K. prime video restricts 4k streaming to select streaming media devices and smart TVs. however, none of the streaming services we’ve reviewed offer 8k content, so don’t feel like you have to go out and buy an 8k TV to enjoy movie streaming services. You don’t have to spend a fortune to create the perfect backyard movie night either, but the high-end components will help you get the most out of your choice of movie streaming service.
movie streaming accessibility options
Most of the streaming video services in this roundup include closed captions for the vast majority of their content, but only a few allow you to fully customize them. Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, IFC Films Unlimited, IMDb TV, Netflix, Peacock, Prime Video, and Tubi all support subtitle customizations.
Only a few services support audio descriptions (opens in a new window), which are audible narrations of on-screen events that would not be audible through dialogue alone. currently apple tv+, disney+, hbo max, hulu, imdb tv, netflix and prime video have this accessibility feature.
transmission vs. blu-ray quality
One of the main reasons to consider a video streaming service on physical media to watch movies is the potential savings. if you buy one or more 4k uhd blu-rays each month (usually $15-$30 depending on how recently they’ve been released), it’s probably cheaper to subscribe to a streaming video service, at least as far as watch movies. However, if you only buy 4k uhd blu-ray occasionally or if you only feel the need to buy standard dvd or blu-ray, you may end up paying less over the same period compared to if you had subscribed to a streaming service. video.
Hbo Max’s ad-free plan and Netflix’s premium plan (the only tiers that support 4K streaming) cost more than any of the on-demand services we’ve reviewed at $14.99 and $17.99 per month respectively. the criteria channel and mubi are $10.99 per month. At the lower end of the price range, Paramount+ Premium is $9.99/month, Prime Video is $8.99/month, Disney+ is $7.99/month, and Ovid.tv is $6.99/month. hulu, kwelitv and shudder ad-supported plan is $5.99 per month.
for about $5 a month, you can get apple tv+ or filmatique. Crackle, Peacock, and Tubi are all free, though you have to pay $4.99 per month to get all of Peacock’s content. Philo, a live TV service, costs $25 per month, but that’s cheap for the category. No matter what you want to pay each month, our guide to the best video streaming services for every budget has a category specifically for movie lovers.
For one thing, the ever-changing library of streaming video services may not appeal to people who like to rewatch movies from time to time. presumably, when you buy a physical disc, it’s because that movie is one you specifically want to watch many times or keep for collection purposes. the fact that a service does not have all the movies you want to see is also problematic. other people might like the prospect of having physical drives offline for eternity (unless you lose them). If you buy a digital movie from iTunes or Amazon, a recent lawsuit reminds us that ownership of digital content may still be subject to factors beyond your control.
On the other hand, the opportunity to discover new movies is a definite benefit of a changing movie library. mubi, for example, updates its streaming section of 30 curated movies every day, so you always have something new to watch. There are also ways to use video streaming services offline. many services support offline downloads on mobile devices, for example. It might not be ideal for watching a movie on the small screen of a mobile device, but it’s still more convenient than carrying around a portable blu-ray player or laptop with a compatible drive.
There are other options for people who don’t like the prospect of streaming services, but still want to go digital. for example, you can buy digital copies of movies online and organize them in one place with movies anywhere. alternatively, you can upload any movie you already own to a plex server and enjoy it anywhere.
which movie streaming service is better?
When you pay for a video-on-demand streaming service, you’re usually not limited to just watching movies. some of the best new shows are exclusive to on-demand services. For example, Netflix is the only place to watch The Squidward Game, Disney+ is the streaming home of Hawkeye, and Prime Video is the place to catch the Wheel of Time. these all-you-can-see subscriptions make it easy to justify the costs of services.
Video streaming services may not be perfect for watching movies, but those with the best features, large movie libraries, and support for high-level standards are viable alternatives to buying physical discs or paying an exorbitant amount of money for Movie tickets.
ben moore contributed to this summary.