Long ago, streaming sought to break the pattern of “500 channels and nothing to watch” that plagued late-stage cable TV. Well, now it’s time for cord-cutters to figure out what to do when there are 500 streaming services and seemingly everything to watch!
One way is by determining which service has the best 4K streaming library. As 4K becomes more ubiquitous in retail stores and our homes, watching new releases and old favorites in ultra-HD has never been easier. What constitutes a “good” library boils down to what you’re into — and what you could do without. That’s for you to decide.
Here are some of the most popular streaming services with a 4K streaming library:
1. Amazon Prime Video
Price: $8.99/month or free with Prime membership ($12.99/month or $119/year)
Nearly all of Amazon’s original content supports 4K HDR format, so you can enjoy fan-favorites like Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Fleabag, The Man in the High Castle, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and thousands of other titles. A Prime Video plan comes jam-packed with 4K-supported versions of recent hit films like Midsommar and The Handmaiden alongside beloved classics including Back to the Future, the original Star Wars trilogy and Charlie’s Angels.
If you are willing to drop $3.99 to $19.99 for an on-demand rental, you can even catch movies that recently made their theatrical debut without having to leave your living room. You don’t need to have a Prime or Prime Video membership to take advantage of these 4K rentals. If you’re bummed about missing The Sound of Metal in theatres, recreating the experience is as easy as setting up a 4K projector and inviting a few pals.
Price: $7.99/month or $79.99/year
Do they call it Disney+ because Disney is constantly acquiring new titles to host on its platform? Maybe so. WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and The Mandalorian are just a few 4K titles from Disney’s roster of original programming.
Popular media properties under the Disney umbrella have also gotten the 4K treatment, including the overwhelming majority of Marvel and Star Wars films and series. There are even a surprising number of classic Disney films that have been upscaled into 4K HDR. This list is still growing, but a few classic 4K movies include A Bug’s Life, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast as well as Mulan.
Price: Pay per view
FandangoNOW is a free-to-join streaming site with over 150,000 movies and TV shows available for rental or purchase. Most 4K rental prices are usually $3.99, while some movie purchases may cost as much as $19.99. This service doesn’t specialize in any specific genre or format, but there are many recent releases available thanks to its partnership with major theatre franchises. Such titles include Judas and the Black Messiah, Raya and the Last Dragon and a Wonder Woman/Wonder Woman 1984 doubleheader. You can also revisit older classics including The Craft, The Birds and Fargo.
Price: $64.99 to $79.99/month
This premium cable alternative is still in the process of breaking into the wild territory of live 4K streaming, but there are new live events popping up every now and again. Right now, fuboTV is one of few streaming services to offer major sporting events like the World Cup and NFL football in 4K HDR10. On-demand 4K selections remain limited, but you can watch the 4K version of BBC America series including Aerial America and America in Color.
5. Google Play Store
Price: Pay per view
The Google Play Store is a seamless 4K rental experience for those who use a Chromecast with Google TV, as the entire experience is optimized for the Google ecosystem.
Even if you aren’t a Chromecast owner, anyone with a Google account and a Google Play-compatible device can rent or purchase anything from Google’s robust library of 4K movies and shows. There is a particularly solid collection of family-friendly titles like the Despicable Me series, Sonic the Hedgehog and the entire Harry Potter series. This is also a reliable spot to find popular TV shows that tend to live on other paid services, such as The Office, Game of Thrones and RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Price: $5.99 to $11.99/month
As one of the giants that elevated media streaming to its current heights, you’d think that Hulu would have a decent selection of 4K titles to choose from. The truth is complicated — while the list is modest and allegedly going to expand in the near future, Hulu’s 4K selection is currently limited to its own original properties. For now, you can catch any Hulu original series such as Castle Rock, Marvel’s Runaways and The Handmaid’s Tale in 4K.
7. Apple TV+
Apple TV and Apple TV box owners will have the easiest time accessing these titles, but anyone with a compatible device is free to enjoy Apple’s library of 4K flicks. There are some cool Apple TV+-specific documentaries that would really shine in high definition — Fathom, Physical and Mythic Quest, to name a few. The same is true of the platform’s visually impressive original series, including Tiny World, Earth at Night in Color and For All Mankind.
Price: $8.99 to $17.99/month (Premium plan required for 4K)
As the trendsetter who kicked off the streaming craze, Netflix is more than happy to provide a thoroughly arranged library of its own original series in 4K — for those willing to pay for the top tier plan. Premium Plan members can view hit Netflix shows and movies such as American Vandal, Bird Box, El Chapo and The Queen’s Gambit in 4K. Of course, there are plenty of upscaled third-party properties in 4K as well. Choose Netflix if you want to see Arrested Development, She’s Gotta Have It and Godzilla in breathtaking high definition.
Price: $5.99-$9.99/month or $59.99-$99.99/year (Premium plan required for 4K)
This relatively new streaming service is still rolling out its full catalog of 4K titles, but Paramount+ has a hearty library to sink your teeth into while you wait. Everything under the Paramount Presents category has been fully remastered from 4K film transfers, with emphasis on older films that haven’t been rereleased in quite some time. Airplane!, Fatal Attraction, To Catch a Thief and Flashdance are a few good places to start.
Outside of Paramount Presents, most 4K options are nature documentaries like Epic Yellowstone, Brazil Untamed and The Secret Life of Wombats.
Price: $8.99/month, $2.99 to $3.99 as an add-on
Available as a standalone service or an add-on for other streaming services like Hulu and Amazon Prime, STARZ primarily offers 4K versions of its own original prestige series. There’s no centralized location where you can find each 4K title available, but well-known STARZ properties such as American Gods, The Girlfriend Experience and Power are usually a safe bet.
Price: Pay per view
Unlike subscription-based services, it doesn’t cost money to set up a VUDU account. Instead, you pay for each individual series or movie you’re interested in watching. While this service may not have quite as reliable of a selection as paid services, you can find some unbeatable 4K deals on classic films, obscure foreign titles and movies that haven’t even left theaters.
There are a remarkable number of 4K bundles on popular franchises like Jurassic World, Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse and John Wick. Titles marked “Theater at Home” are still running in theaters — and sometimes they are released on VUDU the very same day. If you want to catch Minari, Nobody or Nomadland while they’re still hot from the Oscars, this is one of the easiest options available.
Price: Free or pay per view
YouTubeTV may not have 4K streaming infrastructure quite yet, but there is a wealth of 4K content available on YouTube free of charge. The majority of this free content is user-generated, granted, but it’s the number one easiest way to find free nature documentaries that are sure to dazzle your senses. There is even an official YouTube HDR Channel full of 4K treats. Like other pay per view streaming services, YouTube offers thousands of its available titles in 4K including Interstellar, Tenet, Men in Black and The Fast & Furious series.
Still waiting for the right streaming deal for your tastes and your budget? Set a Deal Alert and we’ll let you know when a good deal on your favorite service drops.
More to consider:
- Stop Overpaying for Shows and Get on These Streaming Bundles
- Deals to Look Out For from the 2021 REI Anniversary Sale
- Here’s How You Can Get the Best Price on a STARZ Subscription