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Netflix Review 2021: Plans, Pricing, and More

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

Best overall (on-demand streaming)

Price: $8.99–$17.99/mo.

Features: Thousands of movies and TV shows, original content, 4K capability, offline downloads

Is Netflix good?

Oxygen, water, and Netflix—the basic staples of life. The mighty red “N” has been the No. 1 streaming service for years for a reason: it’s consistent in quantity and quality.

At a base price of $8.99 a month, Netflix delivers a thunderous bang for your subscription buck. Unlike the others that are still trying to catch up, Netflix pours millions into building its own on-demand universe. That’s why we’ve named it our Best overall on-demand streaming service of 2021

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). Not all of Netflix’s shows and movies are great, but there’s always something new dropping tomorrow.

Netflix pros and cons

Pros

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

Cons

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

Netflix deals and promotions

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

Netflix plans

Plan
Basic
Standard
Premium
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 vs. the competition

Price Editorial rating Streams Video Details
$8.99–$17.99/mo. 4.3/5 1–4 1080p, 4K View plans
$5.99–$11.99/mo. 4.2/5 2 1080p, 4K View plans
$8.99–$11.99/mo. 4.2/5 3 1080p, 4K View plans
$6.99/mo. 4.2/5 5 1080p View plans
$6.99/mo. 4.6/5 4 1080p, 4K View plans
$14.99/mo. 4.5/5 3 1080p, 4K View plans
Free–$9.99/mo. 4.3/5 3 1080p, 4K View plans
$4.99–$9.99/mo. 4.0/5 3 1080p View plans
$4.99/mo. 3.9/5 6 1080p, 4K View plans
$4.99–$6.99/mo. 4.0/5 4 1080p, 4K View plans

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

Netflix’s most popular plan, Standard, is only $1 less per month than HBO Max. There are cheaper streaming services, but none match Netflix in new, original output. If you’re more into older, familiar content, check out Amazon Prime Video or Paramount+.

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 blockbusters like The Dark Knight and Casino Royale are currently on Netflix, as are indie hits like Lady Bird and Moonlight.

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):

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

On-demand movies (partial list):

  • The Dark Knight
  • Casino Royale
  • Lady Bird
  • Moonlight
  • Django Unchained
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • The Big Lebowski
  • Boogie Nights
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • 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, Bridgerton, 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):

  • Bridgerton
  • Ozark
  • Cobra Kai
  • The Queen’s Gambit
  • Virgin River
  • Dead to Me
  • BoJack Horseman
  • Never Have I Ever
  • The Umbrella Academy
  • Lucifer

Netflix original movies:

  • Gunpowder Milkshake
  • Blood Red Sky
  • Ice Road
  • Army of the Dead
  • Fear Street
  • The Old Guard
  • Da 5 Bloods
  • 6 Underground
  • Extraction
  • 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 live TV streaming: Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, YouTube TV, Vidgo, and others offer live local channels and cable networks. The closest to an area weather forecast you’ll get from Netflix is 2012.

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

Plan
Standard
Premiere
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
$64.99–$70.99/mo.
Philo
$25.00/mo.
fuboTV
$64.99–$79.99/mo./mo.
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

Plan
Basic
Standard
Premium
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
  • NVIDIA SHIELD
  • PlayStation 3, 4, 5
  • 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 reasonable 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.

Methodology

Our experts spent hours of hands-on testing and crunched the numbers, rating Netflix on bang for your buck, reliability, features, and customer satisfaction. Then we matched up the on-demand TV streamers head to head to give a clearer picture of their strengths and weaknesses. For more information on our methodology, check out our How We Rank page.

Netflix FAQ

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, and allows for up to 4 simultaneous streams. Larger households might want this plan more for its multiple streams.

How do you download Netflix shows and movies?

To download Netflix shows and movies for offline viewing, you’ll need the newest version of the Netflix app on one of these devices:

  • iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch (iOS 9 or later)
  • Android phone, or tablet (Android 4.4.2 or later)
  • Amazon Fire tablet (Fire OS 4.0 or later)
  • Windows 10 tablet or computer (v.1607 or later)
  • Chromebook or Chromebox (select models)

Select any show or movie and look for the “Downloads” icon, which is a downward arrow and horizontal line. If no icon is displayed, this means the selected content isn’t available for download. You’re allowed up to 100 downloads at a time per device across all devices included in your membership plan.

Downloaded shows and movies will expire after a certain amount of time, depending on the title—some will self-delete after 48 hours, but most will remain for at least a week or longer.

What’s the cheapest way to get Netflix?

If you’re a T-Mobile customer, you can take advantage of the service’s “Netflix on Us” promotion, which gives you a Basic or Standard plan for free, depending on your mobile plan.