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Netflix Review 2021: Plans, Pricing, and More

Does Netflix really deliver something for everyone? investigates the mighty red N.

Best overall (on-demand streaming)

Price: $8.99–$17.99/mo.

Key features: Tons of on-demand content, best original shows and movies, and more

Bottom line: Netflix and chill, for real

Oxygen, water, and Netflix—the basic staples of life. Even anti-TV advocates usually concede, “Well, OK, I do have Netflix.” If there’s one entertainment platform that unites us all, it’s the mighty red N.

At a base price of $8.99 a month, Netflix delivers a thunderous bang for your subscription buck. Unlike Hulu and other streaming TV services, Netflix isn’t trying to become a replacement for cable by replicating live programming; it’s creating its own branded on-demand universe. That’s why we’ve named it our Best overall on-demand streaming service of 2020

Because of that, Netflix is one of the few entertainment outlets that can say it has “something for everyone” with a straight face (or off-center smiley-square icon).

Netflix pros and cons


  • Huge variety of movies and TV shows
  • Exclusive original content
  • 4K Ultra HD capability


  • No live TV or sports
  • Long waits for non-Netflix TV shows
  • Almost too many choices

Netflix promotions

Are you a T-Mobile customer? Check out the cellular provider’s “Netflix on Us” promotion, which essentially gives you free Netflix with your phone service.

Netflix plans

Price Video Audio Streams Details
$8.99/mo. 720p 2.0 stereo 1
$13.99/mo. 1080p 2.0 stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 2
$17.99/mo. 1080p, 4K 2.0 stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Atmos 4

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Netflix carries more TV series, movies, documentaries, kids’ shows, stand-up comedy specials, anime, and international programming than you could possibly ever watch (we know—we’re professionals and we’ve tried).

Netflix channels and shows

On-demand shows and movies on Netflix

Netflix originals have become the service’s main push in recent years. But acquired movies and TV shows—Netflix’s initial claim to streaming fame—are still in healthy supply.

All 10 seasons of SHOWTIME’s Shameless are on Netflix, as are all six of comedy hit Schitt’s Creek (no, it’s not a Netflix original; it comes from cable’s Pop network).

On the movies side, between acquired hits and Netflix originals, it’s almost impossible to keep up. Recent Hollywood flicks like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, The Irishman, and Django Unchained are currently on Netflix, as are classics like Back to the Future and Raiders of the Lost Ark (and their respective sequels).

Even though you can literally scroll for hours, Netflix still isn’t an all-inclusive portal for keeping up on every TV show and movie released. But, as one of modern pop culture’s major players, it doesn’t have to be. Plenty of people claim Netflix as their only TV service, streaming or otherwise, and they’re rarely at a loss for something new to watch.

On-demand TV shows (partial list):

  • Better Call Saul
  • Breaking Bad
  • Shameless
  • Schitt’s Creek
  • Grey’s Anatomy
  • The Good Place
  • Outlander
  • The Blacklist
  • New Girl
  • Supernatural

On-demand movies (partial list):

  • Ava
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  • The Irishman
  • Django Unchained
  • Casino Royale
  • Back to the Future
  • Indiana Jones & The Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • The Last Airbender
  • E.T.
  • Pineapple Express

Original shows and movies on Netflix

Anybody remember when Netflix only mailed out DVDs? (More on that in a moment.)

These days, in-house originals are where it’s at for Netflix. Ever since the premieres of original series Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards in 2013, Netflix has moved toward becoming an outlet for exclusively produced content and curated foreign programming.

In fact, originals like Stranger Things, Black Mirror, and countless others are now the service’s primary focus. Netflix invests heavily in Netflix, and it cranks out series and movies and promotes them—hard.

But Netflix doesn’t just produce multi-episode series that’ll keep you binge-watching through the weekend: it also makes feature films and documentaries that eat only a couple of hours of your time.

You’ve likely heard of Mank or Hillbilly Elegy—neither was a critical darling, but millions watched them anyway.

Netflix original TV shows (partial list):

  • Cobra Kai
  • The Queen’s Gambit
  • Virgin River
  • Space Force
  • Dead to Me
  • BoJack Horseman
  • Never Have I Ever
  • The Umbrella Academy
  • Lucifer
  • Russian Doll

Netflix original movies:

  • Mank
  • Hillbilly Elegy
  • The Wrong Missy
  • Da 5 Bloods
  • 6 Underground
  • Extraction
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7
  • Enola Holmes
  • The Dirt
  • Bird Box

Live sports

Unless you count the occasional MMA documentary or the kung-fútbol flick Shaolin Soccer, Netflix isn’t the place for sports, and certainly not livestreaming sports. Look into also subscribing to ESPN+ or fuboTV if you’re planning on cutting the cord but still need your games.

Local channels

Unlike other streamers, Netflix has zero interest in becoming a cable substitute that replicates the traditional grids-and-channels live television model. It’s strictly on demand.

Fortunately, cord-cutters have plenty of alternatives for livestreaming TV: Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue, and others offer live local channels and cable networks. The closest to an area weather forecast you’ll get from Netflix is Sharknado.

Additional services

Aside from its Basic, Standard, and Premium streaming plans, Netflix offers one classic extra that millions still use: physical Blu-ray and DVD rental by mail. Retro, right?

For movies and TV series that Netflix doesn’t stream, Netflix’s DVD-rental plans are more convenient than a trip to a Redbox or the library (or that last standing Blockbuster in Oregon).

Netflix DVD rental plans

Blu-ray DVD Discs per month Simultaneous disc rentals Details
$9.99/mo. $7.99/mo. Unlimited 1
$14.99/mo. $11.99/mo. Unlimited 2

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

There are no late return fees with Netflix’s DVD rental plans, and you can hold onto discs indefinitely—but you’ll have to send it back if you want to rent another. Plus, receiving cool red Netflix envelopes in the mail every week can make you feel pretty special.

Combine Netflix with another streaming service

If Netflix doesn’t give you everything you want, try pairing it with another streaming service to fill in the blanks—you’ll probably still save money over a cable or satellite subscription.

Swipe Left to See All →
Hulu + Live TV
Philo TV
Get Hulu originals plus livestreaming entertainment, sports, and local channels.Livestream entertainment channels like Comedy Central, AMC, Paramount, and MTV.Satisfy your soccer appetite and pick up extra livestreaming entertainment channels.

Netflix specs and features

Multiple streams and offline downloads

Simultaneous streams Downloads for offline viewing
1 1
2 2
4 4

The Netflix app can be installed and activated on as many devices as you like, but the number of simultaneous streams is limited depending on the package.

Basic allows one stream, as well as episode/movie downloads to a single phone or tablet for offline viewing.

Standard allows two streams, and it downloads to two offline phones or tablets.

Premium allows four streams, and it downloads to four offline phones or tablets. If you have a large household and want to keep the kiddies happy, Premium is probably the way to go.

Netflix recommends a baseline of 3 Mbps internet speed for SD viewing, 5 Mbps for HD, and 25 Mbps for 4K Ultra HD. We, on the other hand, recommend 25 Mbps as the bare minimum for any type of internetting—life’s too short for buffering, people.

Compatible streaming devices

The Netflix app is available on almost every streaming device there is—it’ll even work on ancient Nintendo Wii consoles (though it’s a pain to navigate, so probably don’t).

Netflix is supported on these devices:

  • Roku, Roku Stick, Roku TV
  • Amazon Fire TV, Fire Stick, Fire Tablet
  • Apple TV, iPhone, iPad
  • Android TV, phones, tablets
  • Google Chromecast
  • PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3
  • Xbox 360, Xbox One
  • Nintendo 3DS, WiiU, Wii
  • Smart TVs (select brands)
  • Blu-ray players (select brands)
  • PC, Mac web browsers

Video and audio quality

Netflix’s Basic plan streams in 720p video resolution; Standard in 1080p HD.

The Premium plan allows 4K Ultra HD streaming, which applies to Netflix originals and some acquired titles. More advanced HDR (high dynamic range) streaming is available on a limited basis.

Most Netflix programming streams in standard 2.0 stereo audio, though some newer shows and movies are available in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. If you were expecting to hear ’90s Frasier sing about “tossed salad and scrambled eggs” in 5.1, you’ll have to settle for less.

Final take: It’s not TV, it’s Netflix

There’s little to knock about Netflix’s streaming service—for a low price, it delivers the world to your screens.

We could complain about the isolated nature of Netflix, as it offers less and less from outside film and TV studios all the time, concentrating more on its own product. There’s also no local TV connection, but there are other ways for you to get your community information (get an antenna; your local TV news could use the eyeballs).

In all, Netflix isn’t a replacement for good ole cable—with so much exclusive content, that hardly matters. Once subscribed, you’ll probably never want to leave the house again.

Netflix FAQ

Is Netflix free for 30 days?

As of October 2020, Netflix no longer offers a 30-day free trial period—or even the industry-standard seven-day trial. Once you sign up for Netflix, you’ll be billed right away. But you can still cancel at any time, since Netflix doesn’t bind you to a contract.

What’s the difference between Netflix Basic, Standard, and Premium plans?

There are subtle differences between Netflix’s three subscription plans. They break down like this:

  • Basic ($8.99/mo.) gives you standard-definition 720p video resolution and a single stream, meaning you can only view Netflix on a single device.
  • Standard ($13.99/mo.) allows for both 720p and HD 1080p video resolution (depending on the content), and two simultaneous streams. This is the most popular Netflix plan.
  • Premium ($17.99/mo.) can stream 720p, 1080p, and 4k video resolution, ands allows for up to 4 simultaneous streams. Larger households might want this plan more for its multiple streams.

Are NBC shows leaving Netflix?

If you want a Netflix subscription so you can binge classics The Office and Parks and Recreation, better hurry. NBC has launched its own streaming service called Peacock, so these and other favorites will be on Netflix for a few more weeks. Come 2021, you’ll either have to live without Jim’s pranks and Ron’s mustache, or change your Netflix allegiance to Peacock.

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