In a time when old-fashioned cable is losing its sparkle, YouTube is at the top spot in the US streaming world, and has been there for the whole year. But is being number one enough to make it the right choice for you?

We’re taking a closer look at YouTube (and YouTube TV), putting it side by side with big names like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+. We’ll cover everything from special channels and essential sports content to how much it all costs.

Let’s dive into the data, explore why traditional TV is on the decline, and sort through the options to find out which streaming service wins when it comes to what it offers and how much it charges.

Are you ready to see which platform earns the top spot in your viewing lineup?

YouTube’s Dominance

YouTube is currently leading in the US streaming market. It has the highest viewership on TV screens, with 8.6%, beating Netflix, which has 7.9%. YouTube has been at the top for a whole year, showing it’s a favorite among viewers who are moving away from traditional TV to online streaming.


Share of watchers on TV watching different forms of TV in January 2024

Key Measures:

This increase in watching YouTube on TVs points to a big change in how we watch videos. More people prefer videos made by regular users than shows made by big TV networks. This change is important for video creators and the traditional TV industry, showing how YouTube’s success is changing the whole entertainment scene.

The Death of Cable and Rise of Streaming Services

The way we watch TV is changing fast. More and more people are moving away from traditional cable TV and choosing streaming services instead. This shift is because viewers now prefer to watch what they want, whenever they want, without being tied to a cable TV schedule or contract.

YouTube TV, Netflix, and Hulu are leading this change by offering a wide range of shows and movies that suit everyone’s tastes.

Here’s what’s happening:

  • Change in Viewing Habits: People are leaving cable TV for streaming services that let them watch content on demand.
  • Flexibility: Streaming services offer the freedom to choose what to watch and when, without cable TV’s limits.
  • Competition: This move towards streaming is creating new competition for viewers’ attention.

As a result, cable TV companies are feeling the pressure as they lose subscribers – they are trying to keep up by starting their own streaming services or teaming up with existing ones. This is their way of staying relevant and keeping viewers interested in what they have to offer in this new era of TV watching.

Comparison of Top Streaming Services

Streaming services are all vying for viewers’ attention, each offering unique features to stand out. Here’s a breakdown of 6 of the most popular services (according to Nielsen’s data) for easier comparison:


  • Strengths: More free content than you could imagine within almost every possible niche
  • Special Feature: YouTube Shorts, short-form content similar to TikTok or Instagram Reels
  • Subscription: Can watch everything for free but a premium no-ad subscription is available for $13.99/month

YouTube TV

  • Strengths: Live TV with lots of sports, news, and shows. Perfect if you want lots of choices without needing cable.
  • Special Feature: You can record as much as you want without running out of space (unlimited DVR storage).
  • Subscription: $62.99/month for the first 3 months, then $72.99/month for the YouTube TV Base Plan.
  • Add-Ons: Premium networks and bundles start from $1.99/month and go up to around $30/month.


  • Known For: Famous for its original movies and series.
  • Audience: Anyone around the world looking for a mix of different shows and movies.
  • Subscription: Has different plans to fit how much you want to spend:
    • Basic Plan: $6.99/month.
    • Standard Plan: $15.49/month.
    • Premium Plan: $22.99/month

Amazon Prime Video

  • Extras: Comes with an Amazon Prime membership, so you get lots of movies and exclusive shows. You also get access to live events.
  • Why It’s Great: It’s a good deal because you get streaming plus other Amazon Prime perks like free delivery and access to certain Amazon deals.
  • Subscription: Amazon’s membership packages are very streamlined, with new members being able to try Amazon Prime for 30 days.
    • Prime Monthly: $14.99/month.
    • Prime Annual: $139/year.


  • What’s Different: You can watch new TV episodes just a day after they air, plus a huge selection of shows and movies anytime. You can also watch live TV if you want. Hulu is also partnered with Disney+ and ESPN+, meaning that you can bundle everything together.
  • Subscription: Offers plans at different prices, including a cheaper one with ads:
    • Ad-Supported: $7.99/month or $79.99/year.
    • No Ads: $17.99/month.
    • Live TV Plans: Ranging from $75.99/month to $89.99/month.
    • Add-Ons/Bundles: Ranging from $2.00/month to $15.99/month.


  • Focus: Disney+ is all about Disney classics, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic. It’s perfect for fans of these series, offering new and exclusive shows and movies. Disney+ is also partnered with Hulu and ESPN+, meaning that you can bundle everything together.
  • Unique Offering: Watch without ads and download shows to watch offline. There’s a special setting for kids, making sure they see only what’s right for their age.
  • Subscription: There’s a variety of options.
    • Disney+ Basic: $7.99/month.
    • Disney+ Premium: $13.99/month or $139.99/year.
    • Bundles: Ranging from $9.99/month to $24.99/month.

Sports Content?

As we explore the wide array of shows and movies these big streaming services offer, it’s important to talk about a key aspect that often tips the scales for many subscribers: sports content. Sports is the last bastion of cable with many subscribers only keeping their cable box to watch football or basketball. But that’s changing quickly.

The ability to watch live sports is a big deal in the streaming world, with services working hard to get the rights to show big sports leagues and events.

As a result, services like YouTube TV, Hulu, (HBO) Max, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ are all competing for viewers.

So as to ease some of the competition, ESPN, Fox, and Warner Bros. Discovery have teamed up to start their own sports streaming service, prompting competitor FuboTV to sue them for creating an unfair monopoly. This lawsuit could change how YouTube TV offers sports and affect the entire streaming market.

If FuboTV wins, we might see better prices and more options for watching sports. The result of this case will greatly impact the future of watching sports online, influencing both how we access our favorite games and how much we pay. If it loses, the new service could quickly monopolize the sports streaming market, giving it the ability to charge excessive subscription fees.

The Bottom Line

Selecting the best streaming platform depends on what you like to watch and what you’re looking for in a service. Consider these points:

  • Best Free Service With Nearly Infinite Content: YouTube is still the king of user-generated video streaming. It’s where you will find top-notch video essayists, professional gamers (or chess players), full-length movies, and just about everything else you could possibly imagine.
  • Wide Range of Major Shows and Sports: YouTube TV gives you many channels, including sports, and lets you record unlimited shows. However, ongoing legal issues, like FuboTV’s lawsuit, could change how you access sports content.
  • Unique Shows and Films: Netflix is top-notch for its own series and movies in different styles.
  • Extra Perks: Amazon Prime Video comes with benefits beyond streaming, like free shipping and special deals, thanks to Amazon Prime membership.
  • Latest Episodes Quickly: Hulu is ideal for catching up on new TV episodes shortly after they air and also offers package deals for more content.
  • Family Favorites: Disney+ is great for Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars fans, offering ad-free viewing and downloads, as well as package deals for more content.

Think about what’s most important to you—exclusive content, sports access, added membership advantages, or your budget—to pick a service that fits your watching habits.