The launch of Xbox Series X and Series S on Nov. 10 kicks off the beginning of the next-gen console era — but it’s not just a transition for games. For many users, the hardware will also become a destination for streaming entertainment. An Xbox without Netflix or Disney Plus may not be a desirable console for the consumer who wants it all. And now, thanks to an early look at the console, we have the full list of what Microsoft intends to feature alongside its own movie and TV marketplace.
Which of Xbox Series X apps make sense for you? Here’s a more in-depth breakdown of a few of the bigger offerings.
Amazon Prime Video
In addition to free one-day shipping, discounts at Whole Foods, and exclusive Twitch benefits, one of the biggest Amazon Prime perks is access to the company’s streaming service. Amazon Prime Video offers a massive library of free content for subscribers, including original TV shows and movies alongside licensed properties.
Amazon Video is one of the few video-on-demand platforms to offer other streaming services as add-ons. With Amazon Channels, Prime members can subscribe to services like HBO or Shudder without leaving the Amazon Video app. Notably, though, its biggest competitors — Hulu and Netflix — aren’t available via Amazon Channels ... yet.
Subscribe here: Amazon
Apple TV Plus
Unlike Hulu or Netflix, Apple isn’t licensing third-party content for Apple TV Plus. At least at launch, Apple TV Plus is solely a hub for Apple’s own original programming. Structurally, it’s closer to a premium over-the-top add-on like HBO Now than a major platform like Amazon. Still, Apple brings a signature Silicon Valley polish — not to mention heaps of money — to its impressive roster, which includes big names like Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, Jennifer Aniston, and Oprah.
Subscribe here: Apple
Cartoon Network’s next-day viewing app is only useful if you already have cable (providers include AT&T U-verse, BendBroadband, Blueridge, Cable One, Cablevision Optimum, Charter, Comcast, Cox, Dish, DirecTV, EPB Fiber Optics, Grande Communications, Massillon Cable TV, Mediacom, Midcontinent Communications, Suddenlink, Verizon, WOW and Xfinity). Occasionally, the network unlocks and even premieres exclusive content in the app, so it’s worth fans keeping an eye out on the zero-cost app’s activity.
What it costs: Free, but the full bounty of content requires a cable login
What to watch: Adventure Time, Steven Universe Future, We Bare Bears
CBS All Access
CBS All Access’ original content has mostly flown under the radar, with the exception of its Star Trek series, Star Trek: Discovery and Picard. The service also offers ad-free CBS shows, as well as live TV streaming — including CBS Sports and the CBS-owned ET Live.
What it costs: $5.99/month ad-supported; $9.99/month ad-free (seven-day free trial)
What to watch: Star Trek: Discovery, The Good Fight, Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone
A completely free streaming service, Sony’s Crackle has a pretty impressive lineup of TV and movies, from cult classics to actual classics. There are a few hidden originals, too, like the Snatch TV series starring Rupert Grint.
What it costs: Nothing
What to watch: Snatch, Drive, The Blob
Subscribe here: Crackle
Disney Plus offers original programming like the Star Wars spinoff The Mandalorian and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, but its biggest draw is Disney’s back catalog. More than anything, Disney Plus is proof that Disney owns a mind-numbing collection of IP — and with more on the way. This fall promises the direct-to-streaming release of Pixar’s Soul and the new Marvel series WandaVision.
Subscribe here: Disney
Fandango’s VOD app is an alternative to Microsoft’s own movie rental store. The rent-as-you-go marketplace offers new titles that haven’t gone directly to the streaming platforms, ranging from SD to 4K Ultra HD quality. Users can also link a you can link a Movies Anywhere profile to the free FandangoNow account.
What it costs: Nothing
What to watch: Whatever was supposed to be out in theaters or whatever you can’t find on the major streamers, basically
Subscribe here: FandangoNow
Much like the company’s web experience, the Funimation app offers both free viewing and a Premium tier for all your ad-free anime-viewing needs. And there are plenty of simulcasts to keep track of each month.
What it costs: $7.99/month for Funimation Premium (with a 14-day free trial)
What to watch: My Hero Academia, One Piece, Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon, Fire Force
Subscribe here: Funimation
Of the major streaming services, Hulu is the best option for cord-cutters who want to keep up with current TV shows. NBC, Fox, and some cable networks drop episodes onto the platform the day after they air, which means you don’t have to wait for an entire season to be released on Amazon or Netflix before catching up with your favorite series. That’s in addition to plenty of original programming, licensed content, premium cable add-ons, and a live TV plan.
What it costs: $5.99/month ad-supported; $11.99/month ad-free (30-day free trial)
What to watch: Solar Opposites, Shrill, PEN15, tons of ABC, NBC, and Fox TV shows
Subscribe here: Hulu
The home for all things baseball offers multiple tiers of game day action and team data, and in totally customizable fashion. If you sign up for a free MLB account but hold off on a paid subscription, you can also access a free Game of the Day during the season.
What it costs: $2.99/month or $19.99/year
What to watch: Baseball?
Subscribe here: MLB.TV
MyTube gives you YouTube access without all the YouTube flourishes, optimized for the Xbox experience. The design is meant to better integrate video watching with everything else you’d want to use YouTube for (comments, research, etc.) and even beyond the main experience. Xbox users will dig the ability to listen to YouTube audio without remaining on the page.
What it costs: $.99
What to watch: YouTube, without all the YouTube
The Xerox of streaming services, Netflix has been able to stay top dog (or at least one of a small litter of top dogs) through a combination of churning out original content and buying up the rights to hugely popular licensed properties like Friends and The Office. Now that much of that third-party IP is leaving the platform for various streaming services, Netflix will likely double down on its originals, as well as continue to look abroad for licensing opportunities — foreign reality shows like The Great British Baking Show and Terrace House seem to be a rich vein.
Subscribe here: Netflix
NBC’s second foray into the streaming wars (RIP Seeso) will include next-day access to current broadcast shows, a collection of classic series, and plenty of original programming. Though let’s face it, it will always and forever be known as the streaming service that took The Office away from Netflix.
What it costs: free ad-supported (with only “select episodes” of Peacock originals); $4.99/month ad-supported (free for Comcast and Cox subscribers); $9.99/month ad-free
What to watch: Brave New World, the SNL archives, Shrek, the Saved By the Bell reboot
Subscribe here: Peacock
For cord cutters who miss the experience of channel surfing, Pluto TV offers a neat solution. In addition to a library of free on-demand titles, Pluto TV offers hundreds of channels that broadcast 24/7. There are channels dedicated to sports, news, stand-up comedy, cult films, MTV dating shows, and even channels that marathon specific shows including classic Doctor Who, The Walking Dead in Spanish, and Criss Angel: Mindfreak.
What it costs: Free
What to watch: Either 24-7 James Bond or 24-7 American Gladiators
By now, you probably know if the Rooster Teeth streaming app is for you. Do you watch Red vs. Blue, RWBY, or the array of Rooster Teeth’s video podcasts? Great, here’s the app for that.
What it costs: $5.99/month; $32.99/six months; or $59.99/year
What to watch: Give gen:LOCK a shot
Subscribe here: Rooster Teeth
Showtime’s streaming options are a little confusing. Much like HBO, Showtime separates users based on whether they subscribe through a traditional cable provider. Showtime Anytime is the streaming add-on for cable subscribers, while the streaming-only stand-alone version is just referred to as “the Showtime streaming service.”
What it costs: $109.90/year; $10.99/month (14-day free trial)
What to watch: Moonbase 8, The Chi, Billions
The cheapest option for live TV, Sling is best for those on a budget. By splitting some channels into two packages, both starting at $25/month, users can choose to keep that smaller selection of channels or combine them for $40/month. Sling Orange includes Disney-owned networks ESPN, Disney Channel, and Freeform, while Sling Blue has Fox and NBC. There are also plenty of add-ons, including local networks, premium cable subscriptions, and OTT streaming services.
What it costs: Starting at $25/month ($15 for the first month)
What to watch: Live television! So, uh, Jeopardy!?
Subscribe here: Sling
Lionsgate’s HBO and Showtime competitor boasts original shows and a vast collection of movies — often deeper and more interesting than Netflix or even HBO. From Jumanji: The Next Level to Sanford & Sons reruns, Starz really is a sleeper competitor in the OTT thunderdome.
What it costs: $8.99/month (with a seven-day free trial)
What to watch: Outlander, Power, American Gods, and plenty of new movies
Subscribe here: Starz
Tubi, recently acquired by Fox TV in March, claims the title of “world’s largest completely free ad-supported streaming service,” with over 20,000 titles on the ad-supported platform. The only drawback is that Tubi caps the streaming resolution of all the films at 720p, meaning you won’t get the 4K experience offered by Netflix’s premium plans or physical media.
What it costs: Free, with ads
What to watch: Spy Kids, Chicago, Merlin, The Big Short, Thelma and Louise, The Bachelor
VRV bundles several streaming services (many of which are mentioned above, like Boomerang, Crunchyroll, and CuriosityStream) onto one platform. There are also a few “VRV Select” exclusive series, including shows like HarmonQuest and My Brother, My Brother, and Me, which premiered on NBC’s now-defunct streaming service Seeso. Some content is free, but a VRV Premium membership eliminates ads and unlocks everything on the platform.
What it costs: $9.99/month (30-day free trial)
What to watch: My Brother, My Brother, and Me; JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure; ’90s Nickelodeon shows [Ed note: Former Polygon employees Griffin McElroy and Justin McElroy produced and starred in the show My Brother, My Brother, and Me, which streams on VRV.]
Subscribe here: VRV
Vudu, the Walmart-owned competitor to Apple, Microsoft’s rental store, and apps like FandangoNow, is mainly known as a platform to buy and rent digital movies. But it also has a selection of free, ad-supported titles available to watch. Check in on the titles as they’re constantly shuffling.
What it costs: Free, if you don’t rent anything
What to watch: Train to Busan, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Royal Tenenbaums
WWE is a go-to on-demand hub for all things professional wrestling. Launched in 2014, the platform has only grown to be more Netflix-like, promising thousands of hours of on-demand programming, and new content added every week. That includes Raw and Friday Night SmackDown, but also new documentaries and interviews produced specifically for the service.
What it costs: $9.99/month
What to watch: Every WWE, WCW and ECW pay-per-view in history (plus live access to every other PPV event, including Wrestlemania).
Subscribe here: WWE Network
Have you heard of YouTube? Besides tons of creator content, the YT app also has plenty of ways to watch TV and movies. You can rent and buy movies directly from YouTube, or even sign up for its live TV service. But YouTube also has plenty of free content — and not just user-submitted videos. The YouTube Movies free-to-watch playlist includes 400 films that you can watch with ads.
What it costs: Free, or upgrade to ad-free YouTube premium for $11.99/month
What to watch: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Usual Suspects, The Brothers Bloom
Prior to launch, the Xbox did not appear to support the traditional Twitch app — meaning zTwitch is the next best thing. The. third party client let’s users browse channels, stream their favorites, and go picture-in-picture in order to do both at the same time.
What it costs: Free, $1.99 to remove ads
What to watch: Gamers gaming
If you’re all in on Jeff Bezos’ corporate monolith (or own Amazon Alexa units), Amazon Music is your best bet for unlimited song streaming. The service promises more than 60 million tracks, which can be played while playing games or on other apps.
What it costs: $7.99 (three-month free trial)
Like Amazon Music, but French. The music streaming app has its own perks, with a free, ad-driven tier and a HiFi plan with lossless CD-quality audio. Plus, the app is currently useable in 182 countries.
What it costs: $9.99/year for Deezer Premium, $14.99/month for Deezer HiFi
Music creators sign up for premium Soundcloud accounts in order to store all their sweet remixes. Xbox users can just use it to discover new sounds, listen to podcasts, and fall down whatever rabbit hole they’d like.
What it costs: Free
Tons of songs, tons of playlists, tons of everything for whenever you need some background music. The Spotify Duo and Family accounts also include features that use AI to generate combined playlists based on you and your loved ones’ interests.
What it costs: $9.99/month, $12.99/month for Duo account, $14.99/month for Family
Want to try out or use Dolby Atmos? This app helps you customize the experience. Dolby reminds users that games like Call of Duty: Warzone, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Gears 5, Borderlands 3, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, Resident Evil 2, Metro Exodus, Forza Horizon 4 all use the sound technology, so if you have the ability to do it, it might enrich the experience.
What it costs: Free
The long-standing music service has two options for users: A Free version that’s basically radio, complete with the occasional ad; a Plus service that allows you to repeat songs, download stations, and delivers higher quality audio; or the Premium version, which has similar features plus everything you might find on Spotify, Deezer, or Amazon Music. If you’re the type of music lover who just wants someone to tell them what new music is worth hearing, Pandora still rules.
What it costs: Free with ads; $4.99/month for Plus; $9.99/month for Premium
AirServer touts itself as the ultimate mirroring device. On Xbox, the app promises to combine the abilities of AirPlay, Chromecast, and Miracast receivers. New features include extended background audio support from all platforms, proper gaming keyboard-mouse and gamepad support for Windows devices. Users can mirror with AirServer at 720p or 1080p @60 FPS
What it costs: $19.99
It’s a virtual aquarium. Turn it on when you have company over and look at some fish!
What it costs: $7.99
FitBit’s exercise app, which comes as an accessory with a FitBit premium subscription, gets you out of the gamer chair and into a groove. Like a Peloton for your Xbox, the personalized training app delivers dynamic bodyweight, run, and walk workouts. If you own a FitBit device, the app can also tell you your heart rate during workouts.
What it costs: $79.99/year for FitBit Premium
Whether you want to sing sad songs by your lonesome or want to gather friends for a belt off, Karaoke One is the go-to karaoke app on Xbox (mainly because it’s the only karaoke app on Xbox). With tons of songs and a community aspect that turns crooning into a social media experience, the app is for people with songs in their hearts. Paid tiers open up a full catalogue of songs.
What it costs: 3.99 for three day use; $29.99/year for Premium.
The TMX app puts every user-created Xbox theme in one place. May your Xbox dashboard never be plain ever again.
What it costs: Free