The Best Movie and Television Streaming Services in India

It’s the wild wild west out there.
The Best Movie and Television Streaming Services in India
Source: Akhil Arora/Gadgets 360
Highlights

Netflix is the best streaming service for everyone

Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar Premium are budget picks

JioTV is the best streaming app for live TV in India

What is the best streaming service in India for watching movies and TV shows? A few years ago, there were too few to matter, but the launch of Reliance Jio changed everything. Asia's richest man entered the telecom business and launched India's mobile network wars, which saw the price of 4G data slashed to a negligible amount. Today, India has the world's cheapest mobile data rates per gigabyte. While other telco heads have said this is bad for business, it's been great for their subscribers, who have turned into voracious consumers of video content on the go now that data costs practically nothing. As a result, an entire industry has cropped up to serve those needs, offering enough content — movies, TV series, documentaries, reality TV, and short-form — to last you till your deathbed, and beyond.

Everyone and their grandma have heard of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ Hotstar, but there are now dozens of streaming services in India. A new platform seems to enter the fray roughly once every three months. There's no way to cover all of them, but we've taken a shortlist of over 30 platforms from the aforementioned big-hitters to niche ones (think Mubi), and platforms designed for one purpose or subset of the audience (Voot Kids). Some require a subscription, while others are free with advertisements, and yet others make use of both models: enticing users with free content, and hoping to move them over to paid plans eventually.

But how do you know which ones are worth your time — and more importantly, money? That's where this guide can help, by offering recommendations on which ones are best suited to your needs. This includes looking at the pros and cons of different platforms, as well as the audiences they are meant for. To do this, we need to look at the platforms across six basic criteria, to help rank them. These are Price (the various plans, monthly, annual or otherwise), Content (the best titles, and strength of the catalogue), Free with (if you can access them with another subscription), Apps (the platforms they support), Picture (support for 4K and HDR), and Sound (support for surround sound and Dolby Atmos).

The best streaming services in India

The best streaming service for everyone

We recommend: Netflix

Netflix is a beast in the world of streaming. With over 195 million paid subscribers around the world, it's the leader by a fair margin. And for good reason. It produces more original content than most Hollywood studios put together, and in more languages than any other streaming service. I'm not talking dubbing, but rather local-language originals. Netflix is truly a global platform.

And that's matched by easily the best user experience, which is constantly being tweaked. Netflix is also the most forward looking when it comes to embracing new technology.

Price: Rs. 199 “Mobile”, Rs. 499 “Basic”, Rs. 649 “Standard”, and Rs. 799 “Premium”. All plans monthly.

Though Netflix starts at Rs. 199 per month, you don't get access to high-definition (HD) visuals until “Standard” at Rs. 649 per month. That's the one we recommend you get.

If you've friends who also enjoy Netflix, you should consider the top tier at Rs. 799 per month. “Premium” grants you simultaneous viewing for four screens — unlike two on “Standard” — which works well if you split the cost with three friends. You're then looking at Rs. 199 per month, the cost of the most affordable plan.

Content: These are the best movies and TV series on Netflix.

Netflix produces more original content than any other streaming service. It complements that with a sizeable back catalogue. Total number of titles: 5,500+

Free with: None. Limited availability with JioFiber, and select Jio and Vodafone postpaid plans.

Apps: Android, iOS, Android TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, Browser, Chromecast, PlayStation, Xbox, Windows 10, and select smart TVs

Picture: Netflix has over 1,100 titles on 4K resolution. At least 300 of them also offer support for HDR (Dolby Vision and HDR10).

Sound: Surround sound is available on all supported titles. Dolby Atmos is available on over 175 titles.

netflix netflix website

Photo Credit: Netflix

Budget pick: Amazon Prime Video

Amazon, an ecommerce giant, is the biggest competition to Netflix. Prime Video is almost like a side gig for Amazon; not only is it part of a subscription that offers a lot more, it's also a fraction of Amazon's annual revenue. And unlike Netflix, Amazon is a lot more aggressive. While Netflix costs more or less the same everywhere, Prime is staggeringly affordable in India than the rest of the world. To give you an idea, the yearly subscription price of Prime in India is about a month's worth in the US.

Though its original content is a far cry from Netflix's, Amazon has been making waves in recent years. But there's still work to be done in the user experience department.

Price: Rs. 89 (Prime Video Mobile Edition), Rs. 129 per month, or Rs. 999 per year for Amazon Prime.

We recommend the annual plan because Prime Video is just one of many benefits of the Prime membership, in addition to free priority shipping, free ebooks, and a music streaming service.

As with Netflix, the mobile-only plan is restricted to standard-definition (SD) quality and a single device. It's also limited to select mobile operators.

Content: These are the best movies and TV series on Prime Video.

Prime Video can't match Netflix in volume for originals globally, but it's giving it more than a fair fight in India (in terms of series anyway). It too has a sizeable back catalogue. Total number of titles: 4,200+

Free with: Select JioFiber plans. Limited availability with select Airtel postpaid and broadband plans, and select Vodafone postpaid plans.

Apps: Android, iOS, Android TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, Browser, Chromecast, PlayStation, Xbox, Windows 10, and select smart TVs

Picture: Prime Video offers around 175 titles in 4K. Select originals available in HDR (Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HDR10+).

Sound: Surround sound is available on all supported titles. Dolby Atmos is available on select titles, including the likes of Jack Ryan and Carnival Row, but device support is limited.

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Photo Credit: Amazon

Also consider: Disney+ Hotstar Premium

For those who care less about originals but more about back catalogue, and have kids to entertain as well, Disney+ Hotstar Premium could arguably be a stronger budget pick.

A lot of that is down to Disney itself. That includes all of Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, and Disney's decades of animated movies (and now their live-action remakes). Plus, a lot of this is available in local languages too. And then there are the Disney+ originals like The Mandalorian, though these are unfortunately not in local languages.

In India, Disney+ Hotstar Premium is also HBO Now. From Game of Thrones to The Sopranos, it's the exclusive home of HBO shows, many of which are among the greatest shows of all time. For all of Netflix's original series domination, HBO continues to give it a tough fight at the Emmys. And Disney+ Hotstar Premium is the beneficiary of that.

Disney also owns networks like ABC, Fox, FX, and Hulu, and some of their programming is available on Disney+ Hotstar Premium as well. Not to forget all the live sports and local originals, which we will discuss later.

Price: Rs. 299 per month or Rs. 1,499 per year.

Content: These are the best movies and TV series on Disney+ Hotstar Premium.

In addition to everything with Disney+ Hotstar VIP, Disney+ Hotstar Premium includes Disney+ originals, all of Disney, Marvel, Pixar, and Star Wars, and content from HBO, FX, Showtime, and beyond. Total number of titles: 2,700+

Free with: None.

Apps: Android, iOS, Android TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, Browser, Chromecast, and select smart TVs

Picture: Select titles available in 4K and/or HDR (Dolby Vision and HDR10).

Sound: Surround sound is available on select titles. No support for Dolby Atmos.

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Photo Credit: Disney

The best free streaming service

We recommend: Disney+ Hotstar

No other streaming service offers the breadth of content — including dozens of Hindi-, Malayalam-, and Marathi-, and Kannada-language movies, and hundreds of hours of catch-up TV from Star India's bouquet of channels — that is provided by Disney+ Hotstar for free, albeit with advertisements. But hey, that's the least you've to deal with when you're getting something at no cost.

Price: Zero.

Content: Most titles on our best Hindi-language movies list are free to watch on Disney+ Hotstar.

Disney+ Hotstar has a massive back catalogue of soap operas (Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai) and TV shows (Koffee with Karan) that are all part of the free tier. You also get access to all sports highlights and live news. No English-language content is available for free.

Apps: Android, iOS, Android TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, Browser, Chromecast, and select smart TVs

Picture: No content in 4K or HDR on the free tier.

Sound: No content in surround sound on the free tier. No support for Dolby Atmos.

disney plus hotstar disney plus hotstar

Photo Credit: Disney

The best streaming service for live TV

Unlike in other markets across the world, you can't get live TV on living room devices without a direct-to-home (DTH) or cable TV service, or a broadband provider (JioFiber) in India. But if you're happy to watch live TV on your personal devices, including mobiles, tablets, and computers, that's been made possible thanks to the mobile network wars initiated by Jio.

Every live TV provider on streaming — Airtel XStream, JioTV, or Vi Movies and TV — is attached to the respective network, which means you need to be a subscriber. But you would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't have a mobile connection to one of the three, which essentially makes them complimentary.

Because you're not paying extra for these apps, they carry advertisements. And more importantly, they aren't designed very well. In addition to live TV, they also offer a bunch of movies and TV shows, but at times, they are available without the necessary subtitles. And all but one of them (JioTV) impose English and Hindi, with no consideration for whether you speak the language or not.

Additionally, none of these services can offer Chromecast support, due to restrictions imposed by the DTH providers. This means that you can't get the big screen experience for live TV, unless you're willing to go through the extra hoops of connecting your personal device with an HDMI cable to the TV.

Of course, some channels are now available through apps owned by the parent company — SonyLIV offers access to Sony channels, and Voot does the same for Colors and its ilk — and if you only need those channels, you are better off subscribing through them. That would also allow you to easily watch them on the big screen.

But for every other channel…

We recommend: JioTV

This is a numbers game. JioTV offers several hundred more channels than its competition, with a total of 783 channels, of which 213 are high-definition (HD) channels. It's also the only one of the three — Airtel and Vi being the other two — to have a dedicated app for live TV.

A guide tells you how much time has passed since a programme began, and what's coming up later in the day, to help you decided what to watch. The only shortfall is that JioTV doesn't have a web experience and is hence limited to mobiles and tablets.

For what it's worth, you can get JioTV on your TV — as part of JioTV+ — but that's only if you've a JioFiber broadband connection. Given it's serving a sliver of the population, that doesn't win it enough points in my book.

Beyond live TV, a companion app called JioCinema offers on-demand access to over 3,000 movies and TV shows.

Price: A working Jio connection.

Content: The best movies and TV series on JioCinema include The Godfather movies, select Star Wars titles, Saving Private Ryan, Pather Panchali, Pyaasa, Aparajito, Andhadhun, Masaan, WALL-E, Toy Story, Inside Out, Ratatouille, Iron Man, Gangs of Wasseypur, No Century for Old Men, and Omkara.

No originals. Access to hundreds of TV channels, limited catch-up TV, and select Disney, Paramount, Eros Now, PlayFlix, SunNXT, and Viacom18 titles.

Apps: Android, iOS, Android TV (JioCinema only), Apple TV (JioCinema only), Browser (JioCinema only), Chromecast (JioCinema only), and Jio Set Top Box

Picture: No support for 4K or HDR.

Sound: No known support for surround sound. No support for Dolby Atmos.

jio tv Jio TV

Photo Credit: Reliance, Akhil Arora/Gadgets 360

Alternatives

If you don't have a Jio connection, and can't be bothered with a new connection or porting your existing number to Jio, then these are your alternatives.

Airtel XStream

Unlike JioTV, Airtel XStream has far fewer channels: 386 channels in total, with 63 of those in high-definition (HD). Where it trumps JioTV is in offering a desktop interface at airtelxstream.in. It's worth noting that the number of channels on mobile and desktop are not the same.

Airtel XStream also has a guide but it doesn't tell you how much time has passed, which means you've to play to find out if it's still worth jumping in. But the guide is crowded by on-demand offerings since Airtel doesn't have a separate app for live TV, as with JioTV and JioCinema.

Lastly, the Chromecast feature — it doesn't work for live TV, as we noted before — which was previously broken, has now disappeared altogether.

Price: Many Airtel prepaid plans, or any Airtel postpaid plan. Rs. 49 a month or Rs. 499 a year for non-Airtel subscribers.

Content: The best movies and TV series on Airtel XStream include La La Land, Knives Out, Coupling, Yes Prime Minister, Pather Panchali, Pyaasa, Gladiator, Happy Valley, Back to the Future, Requiem for a Dream, Reservoir Dogs, Warrior, and Jurassic Park.

No originals. Access to hundreds of TV channels, limited catch-up TV, and select Eros Now, HoiChoi, Hungama Play, Lionsgate Play, ShemarooMe, and Ultra titles.

Apps: Android, iOS, Android TV (no live TV), Browser, and Airtel XStream Box / Stick

Picture: No support for 4K or HDR.

Sound: No known support for surround sound. No support for Dolby Atmos.

Vi Movies and TV (formerly Vodafone Play, and Idea Movies & TV)

Since Vodafone and Idea's merger as Vi, the app has improved on a user experience level, with live TV much more prominent than it used to be. It's still got a long way to go, though. There's no channel list (and hence no way to know how many SD/HD channels it offers). From our observations, it has the shortest channel list of the three.

And it doesn't have any sort of guide that tells you what's currently playing. At least it has a desktop version that provides access to select channels. Still, Vi Movies and TV is easily the worst of the lot.

Price: Any Vi plan.

Content: The best movies and TV series on Vi Movies and TV include La La Land, Knives Out, Coupling, Yes Prime Minister, John Wick, Gladiator, Happy Valley, Requiem for a Dream, Back to the Future, and Reservoir Dogs.

No originals. Access to hundreds of TV channels, limited catch-up TV, and select HoiChoi, Hungama Play, Lionsgate Play, ShemarooMe, and SunNXT titles.

Apps: Android, iOS, Browser (no live TV), and Chromecast

Picture: No support for 4K or HDR.

Sound: No support for surround sound or Dolby Atmos.

The best streaming service for sports fans

We recommend: Disney+ Hotstar VIP

Disney-owned Star India has the deepest pockets, which is why it has locked up rights to some of the biggest sporting action. That includes the Indian Premier League, games hosted by the BCCI, and all ICC tournaments in cricket, the English Premier League and Indian Super League in football, and Wimbledon, Roland Garros, and US Open over in tennis.

It also has access to Formula 1, and several badminton, hockey, kabbadi, martial arts, and table tennis tournaments.

Disney+ Hotstar makes you suffer through advertisements during live sports, even though you're paying for a subscription. (Disney+ Hotstar VIP users will also see ads with catch-up TV content.)

Price: Rs. 399 per year.

Content: In addition to live sports, you get access to a lot more with Disney+ Hotstar VIP. That includes originals from Hotstar Specials and local-language dubs of Disney+ originals, digital movie premières and those part of Disney+ Hotstar Multiplex, and the local-language back catalogue of Disney, Marvel, Pixar, and Star Wars.

Free with: Select Airtel and Jio prepaid plans, and select JioFiber plans.

Apps: Android, iOS, Android TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, Browser, Chromecast, and select smart TVs

Picture: Live sports are restricted to 1080p at 25fps. No support for 4K, 60fps, or HDR.

Sound: Surround sound not available with live sports. No support for Dolby Atmos.

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Photo Credit: Disney

Also consider:

SonyLIV

Once able to go toe-to-toe with Star India, Sony Pictures Networks India's pockets aren't as deep anymore. Still, it's got some shiny stars in its bag.

That includes UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, Italian Serie A, and English FA Cup in football, games hosted by Cricket Australia and Sri Lanka Cricket, NBA in basketball, Australian Open in tennis, WWE and UFC in wrestling, and Le Mans in racing.

Additionally, SonyLIV provides access to Sony's live channels across all platforms.

Unfortunately, SonyLIV's user experience — even after a revamp and price bump — leaves much to be desired.

Price: Rs. 299 per month, Rs. 699 for six months, and Rs. 999 per year.

Content: In addition to live sports, you get access to a lot more with SonyLIV. That includes Indian originals (Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story), exclusive premières of international shows, and international movies. Total number of titles: 500+

The best movies and TV series on SonyLIV include Community, 1917, Planet Earth, Seinfeld, The Social Network, Shahid, Inside Job, Spotlight, Captain Phillips, Spider-Man 2, Piku, Erin Brockovich, Django Unchained, Lincoln, and Vida.

Free with: None. Limited availability with select JioFiber plans, and Vi Movies and TV.

Apps: Android, iOS, Android TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, Browser, Chromecast, and select smart TVs.

Picture: No support for 4K, 60fps, or HDR.

Sound: Surround sound not available with live sports. No support for Dolby Atmos.

Facebook Watch

The world's biggest social network dipped its toes in live sports a few years ago when it snapped up the Indian subcontinent rights for Spanish La Liga in football, becoming the exclusive home for Leo Messi's devastation of Spanish clubs.

But it's never really cared to do anything more. The interface, geared towards short-form content, is a mess. Three years on, I still don't know how to quickly find La Liga matches on Facebook Watch. The TV app is another headache altogether, where matches seemingly do not exist.

The only upside is that Facebook Watch is the only platform to offer 60fps with live sports. Still, thank goodness it's completely free (no ads either!).

Price: Zero.

Content: In addition to La Liga, you get access to Facebook Watch originals. The best series on Facebook Watch are Sorry for Your Loss, and SKAM Austin.

Apps: Android and iOS (inside the Facebook app), Android TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, Browser, Chromecast, Xbox, and Windows 10

Picture: 4K video is supported, but live TV and originals don't make use of it. Live sport available in 60fps. No support for HDR.

Sound: No support for surround sound or Dolby Atmos.

All the rest

This is where things get to start weird. All the streaming services below are limited in one way or another. Not to say that some of the ones above didn't have problems of their own.

In most cases, the content catalogue is really small. There are some that have over a thousand titles, but their content is either nothing too special, or available elsewhere due to partnerships.

YouTube Premium

Do you watch a lot of YouTube? Then YouTube Premium is made for you. It's YouTube without any advertisements. Additionally, you get access to original content and all of YouTube Music.

Yes, YouTube's new originals aren't behind a paywall anymore, but some of the older stuff is. Plus, you don't have to bother with ads during the originals too if you've YouTube Premium. More importantly, YouTube Premium gets you early access to originals.

It works within the existing YouTube app, you don't need a separate one.

Price: Rs. 79 (students), Rs. 129 (individuals), and Rs. 189 (families). All plans monthly.

Content: The best YouTube originals are Cobra Kai, Kedi, Bodied, Wayne, and Impulse.

Free with: None. Limited availability with Airtel.

Apps: Android, iOS, Android TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, Browser, Chromecast, PlayStation, Xbox, and select smart TVs

Picture: Select titles available in 4K and/or HDR.

Sound: No support for surround sound or Dolby Atmos.

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Photo Credit: Google

Mubi

In one manner of speaking, Mubi is untouchable. Due to its focus on nice, obscure and prestige cinema — Mubi caters to cinephiles, after all — you're not likely to find most of its international content elsewhere. Oh, Mubi is only for movies, no TV series.

But it's also weird in other ways. It adds one new Indian and international film every day, but they disappear after 30 days. Thankfully, Mubi introduced a “Library” feature recently which gave it a bit of a back-catalogue. Still, it's quite pricey for what it does offer.

It also gives you access to Mubi Go, which gives you a free ticket at PVR Cinemas to a movie selected by Mubi every week. Naturally, this is not available during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and likely won't return until we have a vaccine.

Price: Rs. 499 per month or Rs. 3,588 per year.

Content: The best movies on Mubi are An Insignificant Man, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Capernaum, Agantuk, La Haine, La Dolce Vita, Battleship Potemkin, Sans Soleil, Moon, Hiroshima Mon Amour, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and Ghare Bhaire.

Total number of titles: 1,000+

Free with: None. Limited availability with Mumbai Film Festival, and Times Prime.

Apps: Android, iOS, Android TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, Browser, Chromecast, PlayStation, and select smart TVs

Picture: No support for 4K or HDR.

Sound: No support for surround sound or Dolby Atmos. Surround sound support coming in H1 2021, Mubi says.

Apple TV+

Apple has been pouring billions into original content for its fledgling streaming service, Apple TV+, paying Game of Thrones-level money for the likes of The Morning Show and Jason Momoa-led See. But its original catalogue is miniscule. It recently got into acquisitions, picking up Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock, and the Peanuts franchise. Again, that's negligible.

Currently, Apple TV+ is less a streaming service and more a value proposition for Apple users. After all, Apple doesn't offer apps for any Android devices (except the Android fork that is Amazon's FireOS) which is like a death knell for streaming services in a global marketplace that is dominated by Android, much more so in India. Apple isn't really serious about this.

Price: Rs. 99 per month.

Content: The best movies and TV shows on Apple TV+ are Little America, Boys State, and Hala.

Total number of titles: 45

Free with: None — unless you buy an Apple device every year, which gets you 12 months of Apple TV+. But that's an absurd way to get something for free.

Apps: iOS, Apple TV, Fire TV, Browser, macOS, PlayStation, Xbox, and select smart TVs

Picture: Nearly all the Apple TV+ originals are available in 4K and HDR (Dolby Vision and HDR10).

Sound: Surround sound is available on all supported titles. Dolby Atmos is available on nearly all Apple TV+ originals.

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Photo Credit: Apple

Lionsgate Play

Picking a leaf out of the Disney playbook, the Hollywood studio best known for John Wick and The Hunger Games opened its own streaming service. For what it's worth, most of the content is exclusive, thanks to Lionsgate ownership. It's also promising “high-budget premium Indian originals” starting 2021. For now, there are some worthy titles here, though it doesn't help that Lionsgate Play is currently free with telecom operators. Maybe that will change one day.

Price: Rs. 99 per month or Rs. 699 per year.

Content: The best movies and TV shows on Lionsgate Play are Knives Out, La La Land, Juno, John Wick, Mad Men, Casual, The Hateful Eight, The Hunger Games, Blue Valentine, The Princess Bride, Gangs of New York, Reservoir Dogs, Open Your Eyes, Human Flow, The Fighter, Requiem for a Dream, and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

Free with: Limited availability with Airtel XStream, JioTV+, and Vi Movies and TV.

Apps: Android, iOS, Android TV, Apple TV, Browser, and Chromecast

Picture: Select titles in 4K. No support for HDR.

Sound: Surround sound available on all supported titles. No support for Dolby Atmos.

Eros Now

As one of India's biggest studios, Eros International — now a subsidiary of ErosSTX — has rights to popular and critically-acclaimed Bollywood movies, but it's not in the habit of keeping them exclusive. Many of its titles are available on other more well-known platforms, and for free elsewhere.

Eros Now also has a habit of overpromising and underdelivering. It has done so repeatedly with originals, announcing a lot more and then realising only a few. It's also dragging its feet on Eros Now Prime, which is meant to have exclusive English-language shows. It was supposed to have launched earlier in 2020 but there's still no sign of it.

Price: Rs. 49 per month, Rs. 79 for three months, or Rs. 399 per year.

Content: The best movies and TV shows on Eros Now are Pather Panchali, Aparajito, A River Called Titas, Satya, Omkara, Mukkabaaz, Jalsaghar, Aligarh, Sonar Kella, Sandhesam, Padosan, and Manichitrathazhu.

Total number of titles: 1,800+

Free with: None. Limited availability with Airtel XStream, JioCinema, and a revolving list of partners.

Apps: Android, iOS, Android TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, Browser, Chromecast, and select smart TVs

Picture: No support for 4K. Claims to offer HDR but no word on supported content or devices.

Sound: Surround sound is available on all supported titles. Dolby Atmos is available on very few titles, that too only with compatible OnePlus TVs.

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Photo Credit: ErosSTX

Voot + Voot Select

Thanks to its Viacom18 ownership, Voot has always enjoyed an extensive catalogue of catch-up TV, which has kept it as the second most popular ad-driven streaming service for some time (behind Disney+ Hotstar).

And it added to that with a premium tier in Voot Select in 2020, which brought in local-language originals, exclusive American shows (from its parent ViacomCBS), and live TV (powered by Colors' bouquet of channels).

But it lags behind in nearly every way, including catalogue size and quality, technology, and user experience.

Price: Zero for Voot, albeit with advertisements. Voot Select costs Rs. 99 per month or Rs. 499 per year.

Content: The best movies and TV series on Voot are Queen, Kahaani, Drishyam, and That Girl in Yellow Boots.

In addition to those, the best movies and TV series on Voot Select are Gangs of Wasseypur, The Office (UK), Broad City, The Good Wife, Nathan For You, The Good Lord Bird, The Affair, Kapoor and Sons, and Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown.

Beyond that, Voot Select offers access to over 45 live Viacom18-owned channels, and most TV shows on Viacom18-owned channels a day prior to their TV airing.

Total number of titles: 1,500+

Free with: Paytm First Level 2. Limited availability with Paytm First.

Apps: Android, iOS, Android TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, Browser, Chromecast, and select smart TVs

Picture: No support for 4K or HDR.

Sound: No known support for surround sound. No support for Dolby Atmos.

Voot Kids

Viacom18 has a separate subscription catered to children, and strangely, it's more expensive than Voot Select itself. For what it's worth, Voot Kids does have a lot of tie-ups, including with the likes of Nickelodeon, Oxford University Press, WarnerMedia, Green Gold, BBC's CBeebies, TV Asahi, Sony Music, Hasbro, Mattel, and Lego. And it doesn't stop at TV series. Voot Kids also offers ebooks, audio stories, and quizzes — all meant for kids.

Annoyingly, Voot Kids doesn't work in the browser.

Price: Rs. 99 per month, Rs. 199 for three months, or Rs. 799 per year.

Content: The best TV shows on Voot Kids are Avatar: The Legend of Aang (known as Avatar: The Last Airbender internationally), Pokémon, Samurai Jack, The Adventures of Tintin, Mr. Bean, The Spectacular Spider-Man, The Twelve Tasks of Asterix, Shaun the Sheep, and The Legend of Korra.

Free with: None.

Apps: Android, iOS, Android TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, and Chromecast

Picture: No support for 4K or HDR.

Sound: No known support for surround sound. No support for Dolby Atmos.

Zee5

Backed by Essel Group's Zee Entertainment, Zee5 produces more local originals than any other streaming service, year over year, but you would be hard pressed to find someone who can name more than a couple. Recently, it even tied up with ALTBalaji to bolster its offerings, with both services now offering each other's originals as part of the package too.

Additionally, some Zee5 content is available for free, as with Disney+ Hotstar. That includes some TV channels, though most live TV is behind a paywall. Zee5 also has some unexpected stuff you wouldn't think it would have, given its target audience, like Jackie Chan movies and Jude Law-led The Young Pope.

Price: Rs. 99 per month or Rs. 999 per year. A limited offering — Zee5 Club — costs Rs. 365 per year.

Content: The best movies and TV series on Zee5 are Charulata, Sonchiriya, Nayak, Mahanagar, Sairat, Haider, Chintu Ka Birthday, Agantuk, Iqbal, Omkara, Devdas, Mukkabaaz, Her, A Very English Scandal, Aligarh, Drive, and Nebraska.

Total number of titles: 2000+

Zee5 Club limits access to select originals and movies. Live TV for Zee-owned channels is available in all plans.

Free with: Select JioFiber plans, and Paytm First Level 2. Limited availability with select Airtel postpaid and broadband plans, and Paytm First.

Apps: Android, iOS, Android TV, Fire TV, Browser, Chromecast, and select smart TVs

Picture: No support for 4K or HDR.

Sound: No support for surround sound or Dolby Atmos.

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Photo Credit: Essel Group/Zee Entertainment

ALTBalaji

From the house of Ekta Kapoor, but taking a starkly different approach than its usual family-friendly (debatable) melodramatic soap operas, ALTBalaji has drawn criticism for the prurient content of its originals. ALTBalaji also has an originals-only policy, like Apple TV+, which really restricts the size of its catalogue.

Price: Rs. 100 for three months or Rs. 300 per year.

Content: Lootera — one of 14 non-original films — is the only highlight on ALTBalaji.

Total number of titles: 60

Free with: Select JioFiber plans.

Apps: Android, iOS, Android TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, Browser, Chromecast, and select smart TVs

Picture: No support for 4K or HDR.

Sound: No known support for surround sound. No support for Dolby Atmos.

ShemarooMe

A legacy studio with rights to many Bollywood classics, Shemaroo jumped into the streaming business in early 2019, offering around 2,000 movies from its vault. ShemarooMe also offers unscripted original fare that complements its Bollywood slate, akin to what movie extras do on DVD and Blu-ray. During the pandemic, ShemarooMe also began select new titles under the pay-per-view programme “ShemarooMe Box Office”. Some content is available for free.

Price: Plans available in two tiers. ShemarooMe Premium gives you access to everything at Rs. 129 per month, Rs. 299 for 3 months, Rs. 599 for 6 months, or Rs. 999 per year.

Or you can buy individucal categories — catering to a specific language such as Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, or a certain type of content (comedy / kids) — for Rs. 49 per month and/or Rs. 499 per year.

Content: The best movies on ShemarooMe include Pyaasa, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, Dosti, Padosan, Ankur, Kaagaz Ke Phool, Devdas, Shatranj Ke Khilari, and Manorama Six Feet Under.

Free with: Select JioFiber plans. Limited availability with Airtel XStream, MX Player, and Vi Movies and TV.

Apps: Android, iOS, Android TV, Fire TV, Apple TV, Browser, and Chromecast

Picture: No support for 4K or HDR.

Sound: No known support for surround sound. No support for Dolby Atmos.

shemaroome shemaroome

Photo Credit: Shemaroo

Discovery+

An India-first initiative by Discovery Channel is predictably focused on its core strengths: documentaries. That includes popular science, natural history, travel, technology, space, and motorsport. Discovery+ content is available in eight languages: English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali and Marathi. The platform is a mix of free (with ads) and premium, like Disney+ Hotstar.

Price: Rs. 99 per month or Rs. 299 per year.

Content: The best TV shows on Discovery+ include Planet Earth, Planet Earth II, The Hunt, The Blue Planet, Blue Planet II, Frozen Planet, and Top Gear.

Free with: None.

Apps: Android, iOS, Android TV, Fire TV, Apple TV, Browser, and Chromecast

Picture: No support for 4K or HDR.

Sound: Surround sound is available on all supported titles. No support for Dolby Atmos.

MX Player

Merely a local video player app, like VLC, in the rest of the world, MX Player is also a content provider in India after its acquisition by Times Internet in 2018. It offers several originals alongside a spattering of licensed content, with a focus on the Hindi language, be it local or international (dubs). MX Player is completely free with advertisements.

Price: Zero.

Content: The best movies and TV shows on MX Player are Psycho, The Battle of Algiers, Coupling, Yeh Jo Hain Zindagi, The Kid, The General, Maqbool, Roman Holiday, and National Award-winning Hellaro.

Total number of titles: 7,100+

Apps: Android, iOS, Android TV, Fire TV, Browser, Chromecast, and select smart TVs

Picture: No support for 4K or HDR.

Sound: No known support for surround sound. No support for Dolby Atmos.

mx player mx player

Photo Credit: Bennett, Coleman & Co.

Hungama Play

It's trying to be everything. A video streaming service like Netflix. A pay-per-view service like Google Play or Apple TV. And a music streaming service like Spotify. Hungama Play has even produced some originals of its own, but it's largely a licensed content platform. It offers a mix of TV shows and movies from India and internationally. Some are part of the subscription, while others are available for rent.

Price: Rs. 99 per month, Rs. 249 for three months, or Rs. 799 per year.

Content: The best movies and TV shows on Hungama Play (with subscription) are Nayakan, Coupling, City of God, Back to the Future, Gladiator, Happy Valley, Jurassic Park, Top Gear: India Special, Prisoners, Room (2015), The Bourne trilogy, 12 Years A Slave, and Her.

Free with: Paytm First. Limited availability with Airtel XStream, Flipkart Video, and MX Player.

Apps: Android, iOS, Browser, and Chromecast

Picture: No support for 4K or HDR. 4K support coming next quarter, Hungama says.

Hungama Play needs to work on video quality, which is terrible in some cases. Movies have seemingly ripped from TV channels, what with the branding still in place and the aspect ratio is stretched, as happens when 4:3 SD content is fit to a 16:9 display.

Sound: Surround sound available on Android and iOS only. No support for Dolby Atmos, but it's coming next quarter, Hungama says.

Work needs to be done here in sourcing the original version of the movie, given the original language option is unavailable.

TVFPlay

Short for The Viral Fever, it only makes original series, some of which have been directly sold to Amazon Prime Video and SonyLIV (and hence aren't available on TVFPlay). Some are also available officially on YouTube. Free to watch with no ads, but requires registration.

Price: Zero.

Content: The best TV shows on TVFPlay include Pitchers and Kota Factory.

Free with: None.

Apps: Android, iOS, Android TV, Fire TV, Apple TV, Browser, and Chromecast

Picture: No support for 4K or HDR.

Sound: No support for surround sound or Dolby Atmos.

tvfplay tvf play

Photo Credit: TVF Media Labs

YuppTV

YuppTV sees the world from a South Indian lens, be it with its 161 live TV channels, hundreds of hours of catch-up TV, or the various movies and TV series it offers. It also allows you to rent select movies.

Price: Rs. 49 per month

Content: Nothing worth watching in the TV & film vault.

Free with: None.

Apps: Android, iOS, Android TV, Fire TV, Apple TV, Browser, Chromecast, PlayStation, Xbox, Windows 10, and select smart TVs

Picture: No support for 4K or HDR.

Sound: Surround sound is available on all supported titles. No support for Dolby Atmos.

SunNXT

Another streaming provider with a South Indian focus, SunNXT offers Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada movies, TV series, and live TV in the aforementioned languages. It doesn't offer subtitles though, so you must speak the language the movies are in.

Price: Rs. 49 per month, Rs. 129 for 3 months, or Rs. 489 per year.

Content: SunNXT has some good movies from South India, but strangely, it tends to only have dubbed versions and not the original language version

Free with: Select JioFiber plans. Limited availability with JioCinema, and Vi Movies and TV.

Apps: Android, iOS, Android TV, Fire TV, Apple TV, Browser, Chromecast, and select smart TVs

Picture: No support for 4K or HDR.

Sound: Surround sound is available on all supported titles. No support for Dolby Atmos.

sun nxt sun nxt

Photo Credit: Sun Group

HoiChoi

Caters only to your Bengali entertainment needs.

Price: Rs. 499 or Rs. 699 per year. The only difference is that the more expensive plan allows simultaneous viewing on two screens.

Content: Stories by Rabindranath Tagore is the only highlight on HoiChoi.

Free with: Select JioFiber plans. Limited availability with Airtel XStream, and Vi Movies and TV.

Apps: Android, iOS, Android TV, Fire TV, Apple TV, Browser, Chromecast, and select smart TVs

Picture: No support for 4K or HDR.

Sound: No support for surround sound or Dolby Atmos.

Tata Sky

Available only to subscribers of Tata Sky, the direct-to-home television platform — it has the same name so that can be confusing — it provides a range of movies and TV shows, at watch.tatasky.com. Of course, you get access to live TV via the Internet as well.

Price: A working Tata Sky connection.

Content: The best movies on Tata Sky are City Lights, Modern Times, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, The Great Dictator, Anand, The Kid, Sholay, The Gold Rush, Mughal-e-Azam, The Circus, Maqbool, and Room.

Free with: Tata Sky

Apps: Android, iOS, Browser, or any Tata Sky set-top box

Picture: No support for 4K or HDR.

Sound: Surround sound is available on all supported titles. No support for Dolby Atmos.

tata sky tata sky

Photo Credit: Tata/Disney

Watcho

Made by Tata Sky's competitor d2h, Watcho offers a bunch of originals, and access to select live TV channels (the latter exclusive to d2h subscribers).

Price: Rs. 49 per month or Rs. 599 per year.

Content: Nothing worth watching.

Free with: Paytm First. Limited availability with d2h plans.

Apps: Android, iOS, and Browser

Picture: No support for 4K or HDR.

Sound: No support for surround sound or Dolby Atmos.

DocuBay

Offers (largely unknown) documentaries from all over the world.

Price: Rs. 199 per month, Rs. 499 for 3 months, or Rs. 1,499 per year.

Content: The Oscar-winning Smile Pinki is the only highlight on DocuBay.

Free with: None. Limited availability with ETPrime.

Apps: Android, iOS, Android TV, Fire TV, Apple TV, and Browser

Picture: Select titles in 4K. No support for HDR.

Sound: No support for surround sound or Dolby Atmos.

Flipkart Video

It might seem like Flipkart is taking a page out of its fellow ecommerce competitor Amazon's playbook but weirdly, Flipkart Video only works inside the Flipkart shopping app. And it's largely geared towards making you shop more, with most shows about winning prizes or something.

In addition to originals, Flipkart Video also has a smattering of licensed content, and content from other streaming services and partners (Hungama Play, The Zoom Studios, and OML).

Price: Zero.

Content: Nothing worth watching.

Apps: Android, and iOS

Picture: No support for 4K or HDR.

Sound: No support for surround sound or Dolby Atmos.

flipkart video flipkart video

Photo Credit: Walmart

BigFlix

Forgotten (by users) and ignored (by its parent Reliance Entertainment), BigFlix offers access to a bunch of movies in nine Indian languages. It also has a pay-per-view tier on top of that.

Price: Rs. 49 per month or Rs. 499 per year.

Content: Anything worth watching is also available elsewhere.

Free with: None.

Apps: Android, iOS, Apple TV, and Browser

Picture: No support for 4K or HDR.

Sound: No support for surround sound or Dolby Atmos.

FanCode

Owned by the parent company of Dream11, FanCode is not intended to be a streaming service. It's actually a platform to offer fantasy sports advice and recommendations, which means it exists to funnel more people into Dream11.

And in what seems like a roundabout way to get more users for Dream11, FanCode has picked up streaming rights for a lot of sport that doesn't get picked up by the big names. That includes German Bundesliga in football, NBA and EuroLeague in basketball, and NFL in American football.

FanCode doesn't work like a streaming service either. It's a pay-per-view platform, that allows you to pay for an individual match or the entire season.

Price: Rs. 5 per match or Rs. 199 for the full season (Bundesliga)

Free with: None.

Apps: Android, iOS, Browser, and Chromecast

Picture: No support for 4K, 60fps, or HDR.

Sound: No support for surround sound or Dolby Atmos.

Comments
Akhil Arora covers entertainment for Gadgets 360, interviewing stars such as Christian Bale and Anurag Kashyap, covering series premieres, product and service launches across the globe, and looking at American blockbusters and Indian dramas from a global socio-political and feminist perspective. As a Rotten Tomatoes-certified film critic, Akhil has reviewed over 150 movies and TV shows in over half a decade at Gadgets 360. When he is not completely caught up with new film and TV releases, Akhil ...More
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