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The streaming scene has seen significant growth in recent years, offering Aussies an array of entertainment choices. Platforms like Netflix, Disney Plus, Stan, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV Plus, and Binge are now easily accessible on our TVs and streaming devices.

Having so many options is great, but it also means most people won't subscribe to all services due to budget constraints. Many will likely opt for just one or two services that fit their monthly spending.

Choosing the right service isn't straightforward. Each platform boasts a diverse range of TV shows, movies, and exclusive content. Moreover, they each come with unique pricing, compatible devices, offline viewing options, and streaming quality.

To simplify your decision-making process, we at Tom's Guide have compiled a comprehensive guide to the best streaming services for 2023. We'll give you a brief overview of the major services, detailing their offerings and key features like pricing and device compatibility.

Additionally, we'll highlight specialized streaming services, focusing on genres like sports, reality TV, horror, and British television. Stay tuned for this curated list.

What are the best streaming services?

Not too long ago, Netflix was the undisputed streaming champion. However, platforms like Disney Plus and Binge have since gained traction, offering a consistent quality of exclusive content that has rivaled Netflix's offerings.

Netflix's decision to hike subscription fees, coupled with the cancellation of several fan-favorite shows, has also led to some discontent among its users.

At Tom's Guide, we dedicate a significant amount of time to exploring major streaming services. We watch movies and shows across these platforms to provide you with an informed and definitive list. So, without further delay, here are Tom's Guide's top picks for the best streaming services for 2023.

The best streaming services now

Binge - The best way to watch HBO's biggest shows

While HBO Max hasn't officially launched, Binge serves as a fantastic alternative. Operated by Streamotion, a part of the Foxtel group, Binge offers a more affordable way to access a vast range of shows and movies available on Foxtel.

Binge's standout feature is its partnership with HBO, granting early access to some of HBO's most popular shows like True Detective: Night Country, House of the Dragon, Succession, The White Lotus, and Euphoria. Additionally, Binge provides access to a rich archive of iconic HBO series such as The Wire, The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, and Sex and the City.

But Binge isn't just about HBO. The platform boasts an extensive collection of recent and classic films, as well as reality and true crime content that you'd expect from a Foxtel-associated service. Plus, subscribers also get access to several live Foxtel channels.

While Binge initially had limited device compatibility, it has since added support for Xbox One S/X and Xbox Series S/X consoles — albeit a bit late, two and a half years after its launch.

Although Foxtel Now offers much of the same content as Binge, Binge stands out due to its affordability. After a two-week free trial, Binge's pricing starts at just AU$10 per month for the Basic plan (one ad-supported HD stream). The Standard plan (two ad-free 4K streams) costs AU$18 per month, and the Premium plan (four ad-free 4K streams) is priced at AU$22 per month.

Excitingly, Binge has recently introduced 4K streaming options, addressing a long-awaited demand. This upgrade comes with a slight price increase of AU$2/month for the Standard plan and AU$4/month for the Premium plan. However, the enhanced viewing experience, especially for shows like House of the Dragon in Ultra HD, makes it a worthwhile investment.

Netflix - Still great, if not quite the best anymore

Not too long ago, Netflix was the undisputed leader in streaming services, but recent years have seen a shift in its dominance. The Covid pandemic significantly impacted Netflix's content production, leading to a decline in the overall quality of its offerings.

Couple this with fierce competition from giants like Disney and HBO, frequent price increases, and Netflix's tendency to cancel beloved shows, and it's no surprise that subscribers are dwindling.

However, Netflix still boasts the largest selection of exclusive TV shows and movies compared to any other streaming platform. Its technical prowess is also commendable, offering seamless 4K streaming, intuitive navigation, and extensive device compatibility.

Despite some users temporarily canceling their Netflix subscriptions, the platform's impressive lineup of shows keeps many coming back. Hits like Wednesday, The Crown, Blue Eye Samurai, Heartstopper, and One Piece have garnered significant attention. However, Netflix's recent movie releases have received mixed reviews.

Some films, such as Heart of Stone and Me Time, feel like they were crafted by algorithms rather than creative minds. On the other hand, big-budget action films like The Gray Man have been criticized for lacking soul. Nevertheless, David Fincher's thriller The Killer and Chris Hemsworth's Extraction 2 received high praise from critics.

While Netflix's pricing may be on the higher side, ranging from AU$10.99 for a single standard definition stream to AU$22.99 for four 4K streams, its vast library of exclusive content and exceptional service quality make it a worthwhile investment for many.

Disney Plus - The new home of Disney shows and movies

When Disney Plus first launched, it quickly earned a reputation as the go-to platform for family-friendly content, offering a vast library of Disney classics, Pixar films, Marvel movies, and Star Wars series.

While this was a hit among households with young children, adults soon found themselves craving more mature content. Recognizing this need, Disney introduced Star—a sub-label within Disney Plus featuring more adult-oriented shows and movies. Now, parents can enjoy series like Pam & Tommy, The Bear, and Deadpool after putting the kids to bed.

The introduction of Star did come with a modest price increase, but the substantial boost in content made the added cost justifiable. However, Disney Plus recently raised its subscription fee again without offering any significant additional benefits to subscribers.

Even with the latest price hike to AU$13.99 per month, Disney Plus continues to excel in delivering quality content. The fact that Disney does not charge extra for 4K streaming or simultaneous streams further adds to its value proposition.

In terms of exclusive content, Disney Plus had a strong lineup last year, releasing several major hits. On the TV front, Andor received critical acclaim as one of the best Star Wars shows on the platform, and the upcoming series Ahsoka is highly anticipated.

As for movies, the highly awaited Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3 recently debuted on Disney Plus, and The Little Mermaid is set to be the next big exclusive release.

However, there are signs that the platform's appeal may be waning. Interest in Marvel content appears to be decreasing, and fan-favorite shows like The Mandalorian seem to be losing their luster. This raises questions about whether Disney Plus can maintain its position as a top-tier streaming service in the long run.

Stan - The go-to for big name TV shows

Stan burst onto streaming scene as one of the earliest competitors to Netflix, making a splash with exclusive rights to the hit series Better Call Saul, the acclaimed spin-off of Breaking Bad. However, with Better Call Saul wrapping up, the focus has shifted to Stan's other exclusive offerings to see what else is worth watching.

Leading the pack is Yellowstone, the critically acclaimed American western series starring Kevin Costner. The show follows Costner's character and his family as they defend their ranch against various threats, including land developers aiming to turn their property into condos, resorts, and airports. However, a behind-the-scenes shake-up involving Costner's departure means fans will have to wait until the end of 2024 to see how the story concludes.

For fans of reality TV, RuPaul's Drag Race is another standout exclusive on Stan, with the platform offering around 18 additional spin-offs for those who can't get enough of the glitz and glamour.

While Stan has a decent selection of originals and a variety of other quality shows, much of its exclusive content could be considered second-tier compared to industry giants like HBO. That's not necessarily a knock on the platform; it simply means there's a lack of buzzworthy, must-see shows.

On the movie front, Stan shines with an impressive library that includes both new releases and timeless classics. Additionally, the platform has been producing its own well-received films like Nitram, Gold, and The True Story of the Kelly Gang.

In terms of pricing, Stan is on par with Netflix, offering 4K HDR content at competitive rates. Plans start at AU$10 per month for one standard-definition stream, AU$14 for two high-definition streams, and AU$19 for four 4K streams.

Recently, Stan also introduced a AU$10 sports package, providing live and catch-up coverage of sports events like rugby, tennis, motorsports, and cycling.

For avid online shoppers, an Amazon Prime subscription is hard to pass up. Despite a recent price increase of AU$3 per month, the AU$9.99 monthly fee still offers great value. Subscribers not only get the benefit of one-day domestic delivery but also gain access to a range of additional services like Amazon Music, Prime Reading, and Prime Gaming. Plus, let's not forget Amazon Prime Video, a streaming platform packed with a diverse selection of TV shows and movies.

Amazon Prime Video's original programming spans various genres, from witty comedies like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and I'm a Virgo to adrenaline-pumping series like Reacher and The Boys. Recently, Amazon made headlines with the release of its highly anticipated series, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

On the movie front, Amazon Prime Video offers a solid lineup of original films, including Air, Totally Killer, Thirteen Lives, and The Voyeurs. But where Amazon truly shines is its extensive library of movies, which features a mix of classic titles, VHS-era favorites, and a seemingly endless selection of B-grade horror, action, and thriller films.

In a smart move to enhance its content offering, Amazon Prime Video now allows subscribers to add on smaller streaming services like Paramount Plus, Shudder, and AMC+. This feature eliminates the hassle of downloading multiple apps and managing separate accounts, making it a convenient one-stop-shop for all your streaming needs.

Apple TV Plus - Apple's service has taken the phrase 'quality over quantity' to heart

When Apple first ventured into content creation, many viewed it as a risky move. However, the tech giant quickly silenced skeptics by delivering a slew of award-winning and critically acclaimed shows.

Beyond the feel-good hit Ted Lasso, Apple TV+ has impressed audiences and critics alike with standout series such as Silo, Severance, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, For All Mankind, and The Morning Show. Not stopping there, Apple ventured into the realm of epic sci-fi with its high-budget adaptation of Foundation.

The platform further cemented its credibility by snagging the Best Picture Oscar for CODA, proving that Apple TV+ is not a one-hit wonder. To see the full range of quality content, check out our curated list of the best shows and movies on Apple TV+. While competitors like Netflix may seem predictable in comparison, Apple TV+ continues to innovate and captivate its audience.

However, it's worth noting that Apple TV+'s content library lacks depth compared to its rivals. Instead of offering a vast array of back-catalogue titles, Apple prefers to sell these classics through iTunes. While the focus on high-quality originals is commendable, some may find the limited selection a drawback given the service's monthly fee.

Speaking of fees, Apple TV+ recently underwent another price increase, raising its subscription cost from AU$9.99 to AU$12.99 per month. Considering the service's relatively small content library and absence of licensed content, this price hike may be a tough pill to swallow for some subscribers.

Another area where Apple could improve is device support, particularly for Android devices. Some speculate that this limited support is a strategic move to promote Apple TV 4K streaming boxes. This suspicion gains traction given Apple's decision to remove its app from the Android TV platform without a clear explanation.

On a brighter note, Apple TV+ has expanded its reach to gaming consoles, including PlayStation and Xbox. PS5 owners even have the opportunity to enjoy six months of free service by downloading the Apple TV+ app—a compelling incentive to give the platform a try.

Paramount Plus - After a weak start, Paramount is starting to get better

Over the past year, Paramount Plus has quietly transformed into a compelling streaming option, despite its underwhelming debut with a limited range of exclusives and originals.

The platform has significantly bolstered its content lineup with high-profile releases like Special Ops: Lioness, an action-packed series penned by Taylor Sheridan and starring Zoe Saldaña and Nicole Kidman. Another standout is Tulsa King, also from Sheridan and the creators of The Sopranos, featuring Sylvester Stallone.

Paramount Plus further solidifies its offering with Taylor Sheridan's Yellowstone prequels, 1883 and 1923, along with the Jeremy Renner-led drama Mayor of Kingstown. Fans of iconic franchises can also look forward to the live-action Halo TV series, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, and the revival of Beavis and Butt-Head.

In a bid to enhance the viewing experience, Paramount Plus has introduced 4K HDR streaming for its Premium tier, priced at AU$13.99 per month for four simultaneous streams. For those looking for a more budget-friendly option, the Standard tier is available at AU$9.99 per month, offering two simultaneous HD streams—though this is a dollar more than its initial price.

In addition to its original programming, Paramount Plus enriches its content library with a diverse selection of on-demand movies and shows from ViacomCBS's extensive portfolio, which includes Showtime, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., and the Smithsonian Channel.

While Paramount Plus initially struggled to make a mark, it's encouraging to see the platform fulfilling its potential. As the service continues to evolve, we hope to see an even more comprehensive offering in the future.

Foxtel Now - Get the full Foxtel experience without a cable package

Foxtel has long been associated with traditional pay TV subscriptions, requiring users to undergo installations that often involved technicians setting up boxes and dealing with cables.

Enter Foxtel Now, designed to offer the complete Foxtel experience without the need for a conventional pay TV setup. This means bypassing the hassle of having technicians visit your home and set up additional equipment.

With Foxtel Now, you can easily stream content directly to your smart TV, provided it's compatible, or to your existing devices, making the process much more straightforward.

However, this convenience comes at a price. Foxtel Now divides its content into various packages, each carrying an additional cost on top of the mandatory Essentials base package priced at AU$25 per month. As a result, accessing all available content could set you back up to AU$104 per month.

While this might be justifiable for sports enthusiasts, the introduction of streaming services like Binge, which offers a comparable range of non-sporting content, including HBO shows, has made Foxtel Now's pricing harder to justify.

If you're curious about Foxtel Now's offerings and want to see if it's worth the investment, the service does offer a free 10-day trial for you to explore its content firsthand.

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