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Every Major Streaming Service Ranked From Worst To Best

The current golden age of television can be credited to more than just the quality of TV programming—it's also thanks to the seemingly never-ending options for viewing. The growth of streaming services has put premium channels like HBO on their toes, and consumers are enjoying the ability to piece together their own "subscriptions" beyond the traditional packages former monopolies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable have to offer. With so many TV streaming services to choose from, though, how can you tell what's worth your money?

Before you sign up, check out Looper's list of every major streaming service, ranked from worst to best.

10. VUDU

With per-piece pricing for movies and TV shows, the cost of using VUDU to watch your favorite programs can quickly add up. It's definitely closer to iTunes than Netflix or Hulu—i.e. more of an on-demand service than all-inclusive streaming—but it offers more HD movies, according to Lifewire. Though it gets movie releases faster than Netflix, the fact that you can pay for Netflix's entire library with the cost of two VUDU rentals means the former is the clear winner.

Variety of programming: 8/10

Best exclusives: 0/10 (As of this writing, VUDU doesn't produce original content.)

Value: 4/10

Cost: 4/10

Overall rating: 4/10

9. PlayStation Vue

PlayStation Vue launched in March 2015 with little fanfare, but increasing availability and channel options has turned it into a popular choice for cord-cutters. It offers most of the same features as a regular cable subscription and can stream on up to five devices simultaneously at no extra cost, far more than competitors Sling TV and DirecTV Now. However, with prices ranging from $29.99 to $64.99 a month, you might not save too much money depending on the package you choose—though you will benefit from a cloud DVR, allowing you to record live TV shows and watch them later at your convenience.

Variety of programming: 8/10

Best exclusives: 0/10 (As of this writing, Sling TV doesn't produce original content.)

Value: 6/10

Cost: 5/10

Overall rating: 5/10

8. STARZ

As a lesser-known premium cable channel, STARZ entered the streaming fray a bit later than its competitors, launching a standalone service in April 2016. The STARZ app stands out for allowing subscribers to download programs for viewing without the need for wifi, a nice feature that could come in handy when you're on a long flight and really want to catch up on Outlander or Power. At $8.99/month, STARZ beats both Showtime and HBO Now when it comes to cost—but with fewer popular series under its belt, the streaming service hasn't gained subscribers as quickly as other premium providers.

Variety of programming: 6/10

Best exclusives: 5/10 (As of this writing, the STARZ streaming service offers no additional programming beyond its regular cable subscription.)

Value: 6/10

Cost: 7/10

Overall rating: 6/10

7. Showtime Anytime

First launched in July 2015, Showtime Anytime is available via Amazon, Hulu, PlayStation Vue, Roku and more. The subscription runs anywhere from $8.99 to $10.99 a month, depending how you get it. With 1.5 million subscribers and growing, Showtime Anytime is giving HBO Now a run for its money—and with original series like Homeland, Shameless and Billions, it'll be interesting to see which premium cable channel comes out on top.

Variety of programming: 7/10

Best exclusives: 5/10 (As of this writing, Showtime Anytime offers no additional programming beyond its regular cable subscription.)

Value: 7/10

Cost: 7/10

Overall rating: 6.5/10

6. HBO Now

As one of the first premium cable channels to launch a standalone streaming service, HBO threw its hat in the streaming ring with the launch of HBO Now in April 2015. At $14.99/month, HBO Now's price point is much higher than competitors Netflix and Hulu, but access to critically acclaimed, award-winning shows like Game of Thrones, Westworld and Veep makes the cost more than worth it for TV aficionados.

Variety of programming: 8/10

Best exclusives: 5/10 (As of this writing, HBO Now offers no additional programming beyond its regular cable subscription.)

Value: 7/10

Cost: 6/10

Overall rating: 6.5/10

5. Sling TV

As a live TV package starting at $20/month, Sling TV is probably best suited for cord-cutters. Having launched in February 2015, it's one of the newer streaming services, but its basic Sling Orange subscription provides access to such premium channels as AMC (hello, The Walking Dead), BBC America, Comedy Central, ESPN and Viceland. Sling Blue, the service's second-tier option, adds channels like National Geographic and USA Network for an extra $5/month. A variety of add-ons to channels like HBO, STARZ and Cinemax will definitely expand your movie-watching capabilities, but those additional fees can quickly add up.

Variety of programming: 8/10

Best exclusives: 0/10 (As of this writing, Sling TV doesn't produce original content.)

Value: 8/10

Cost: 7/10

Overall rating: 6/10

4. Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video offers four times as many movies for streaming compared to Netflix—but, as the saying goes, size isn't everything. Original programming is where Amazon has the most room to grow, considering the critical success of shows like Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle and The Man in the High Castle. While Amazon is ad-free, it does show short promotional clips before each video.

Amazon's coolest feature might be its pilot seasons, during which customers help choose future original series for development based on popularity. The Man in the High Castle is one such program that was selected for a full run. Access to Amazon's streaming service is included in its Prime membership, which costs $99/year or $10.99/month. (You'll also enjoy free two-day shipping with this option.) Alternatively, you can subscribe to Amazon Prime Video only for $8.99/month.

Variety of programming: 7/10

Best exclusives: 8/10

Value: 8/10

Cost: 8/10

Overall rating: 8/10

3. Crackle

Crackle has the distinction of being the only no-cost streaming service on this list, which is the main reason it's ranked so high. Though it lacks access to most current TV programs, the availability of classic shows like All in the Family and Mad About You makes up for it, especially when you're in the mood to binge-watch an old favorite on a lazy Friday night. Its movie selection leaves much to be desired, but Crackle's original programming is impressive for a free streaming distributor. Check out the list of Crackle originals here.

Variety of programming: 7/10

Best exclusives: 6/10

Value: 10/10

Cost: 10/10

Overall rating: 8/10

2. Hulu

Where Hulu shines is in its ability to offer current episodes of TV shows more quickly than its rivals. While Netflix and Amazon Prime Video don't receive new TV series for up to a year after initial airing, you can generally find the latest episodes of your favorite programs within 24 hours on Hulu. However, the streaming service still includes commercial breaks, albeit shorter ones than you'd find on live network TV. It does offer an ad-free tier for an additional $4/month, but it's a shame Hulu's basic tier—which runs $7.99/month—leaves you stuck with commercials, even if you can customize what kind of ads you see.

While Hulu used to boast access to the Criterion Collection, its overall movie selection is somewhat lacking. Unlike Netflix, though, Hulu offers an add-on: For an extra $8.99/month, you'll have the entire Showtime catalog at your disposal, which means you can enjoy excellent shows like Homeland, Masters of Sex and The Affair. This option saves you $2/month compared to purchasing both streaming plans separately.

Variety of programming: 7/10

Best exclusives: 7/10

Value: 9/10

Cost: 9/10

Overall rating: 8/10

1. Netflix

It's hard to beat the original programming Netflix offers, considering the company produced more content in 2015 than cable giant HBO, according to CBS San Francisco. With juggernauts like Fuller House, Stranger Things, Orange Is the New Black, House of Cards and more, the streaming behemoth is definitely ahead of the competition when it comes to producing shows and movies featuring A-list talent. In fact, Netflix was voted the "best original content media company" in a 2016 Morgan Stanley survey.

Though some customers balked when Netflix raised its subscription prices, the price of a premium plan is a more-than-reasonable $11.99 (its basic plan is $7.99/month; to watch on two screens, you'll pay $9.99/month). At the time of this writing, Netflix has a global paying membership of 93.8 million.

Variety of programming: 8/10 (Though Netflix takes the crown in original programming, its overall library is smaller than some other streaming services, and offerings change quite frequently.)

Best exclusives: 10/10

Value: 9/10

Cost: 9/10

Overall rating: 9/10