Shopping for other people isn’t always easy. There may be times you end up procrastinating and before you know it, it’s the day of your sister’s birthday or your best friend’s housewarming party and you don’t have a gift. Luckily, there are countless last-minute gift options, including the gift of streaming. Yes, that’s right — you can absolutely gift Apple TV, Netflix, Hulu, and even Disney Plus. Not only will a streaming service help your loved ones stay entertained at home no matter what, but it’s also the gift that keeps on giving.
Whether you buy a gift card online or in-store, many of the most in-demand services have a dedicated section for redeeming digital gift card codes so that your loved one can activate their subscription when they’re ready to sink into the couch and take in some excellent original programming or revisit their favorite movie.
Before you buy a streaming gift card, there are a few things to consider. Your giftee will need a streaming device or smart TV to enjoy the service. (If they don’t have one, congratulations! You’ve stumbled into another gift idea. CNET can help you navigate affordable, quality streaming devices and smart TVs.) In addition, once the gift card or gift subscription runs out, naturally, access to the service does, too. If they want to keep using the service, they need to add a credit card for payments.
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Here’s a list of some of the best streaming service gift subscriptions you can give to family and friends this year, from popular choices to some more niche products for people with particular viewing sensibilities:
Streaming veteran Netflix — like Hulu — offers gift cards online or in-store through retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Kroger. Netflix offers three subscription tiers — Standard ad-supported ($7 per month), Basic ($10 per month), (Standard ($15.49 per month) and Premium ($20 per month).
You can purchase physical or digital Hulu gift cards through retailers like Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon, Walgreens, Kroger and PayPal. Hulu has a few different subscription tiers to choose from like basic Hulu ($8 per month) and ad-free basic Hulu ($15 per month). You can also subscribe to Hulu Plus Live TV ($70 per month) and Hulu Plus Live TV without ads ($82.99 per month). Hulu Plus Live TV now includes Disney Plus and ESPN Plus.
Disney Plus offers new releases like Shang-Chi, classic Star Wars, Pixar and Marvel movies, as well as Disney Vault movies, fun documentaries and plenty of TV shows. Disney Plus doesn’t have gift cards, but you can give a one-year gift subscription offer for new subscribers.
Showtime, a more direct competitor to HBO, includes award-winning shows, movies, documentaries, pay-per-view fights and more. You can get a Showtime gift card at multiple retailers like Barnes and Noble, Best Buy, CVS, GameStop, Walgreens, Walmart and more. Showtime also offers gift cards for its online store, but those gift cards can’t be applied to a streaming subscription.
Paramount Plus, formerly CBS All Access, includes content from CBS, BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, MTV and the Smithsonian Channel, as well as sports content from the NFL, SEC and more. Paramount Plus’ basic plan is $5 per month after a seven-day free trial. You can also upgrade to Premium for $10 per month after the free trial. Paramount Plus also houses Showtime content, so users can choose the Essential with Showtime bundle or Premium for $12 per month after the free trial. Essential includes ads and doesn’t include access to CBS.
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Bribox is one of my favorite niche streaming services. You can check out original content like The Long Call, riveting mysteries like Luther, The Fall, Poirot, classic comedies like Keeping Up Appearances and the Vicar of Dibley, dramas like Downton Abbey and MI-5 and so much more. Britbox costs $8 per month or $80 annually after a seven-day free trial.
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No more breaking the bank buying theater tickets or scouring the dark corners of the internet for a bootleg. BroadwayHD includes musicals, Broadway classics, Tony Award winners, Shakespeare, ballet and more.
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Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime have plenty of Korean dramas (my heart personally hasn’t recovered from Netflix’s Crash Landing on You), but if you’re looking for a dedicated service for Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese shows and movies. You can watch Viki for free with ads, or subscribe to Viki Pass Standard for $5 per month or $50 annually. Viki Pass Plus costs $10 per month or $100 per year after a 7-day free trial. Viki Pass unlocks more shows and movies, presents content in HD quality without ads, as well as first access to exclusives, originals and more.
Apple TV Plus — Apple’s $7 per month streaming service — has released some popular exclusive shows like Ted Lasso, The Morning Show, Dickinson and Schmigadoon. The service also has original documentaries and movies like Finch, starring Tom Hanks, Coda, and Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry.
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In a similar vein to BroadwayHD, the theater-goer in your life might enjoy a subscription to Met Opera on Demand. The service includes full-length operas like Madama Butterfly, Die Walküre, Aida, Carmen and more. Met Opera on Demand also includes a Live in HD series, which adds new titles every month.
Sundance Now/Screenshot by CNET
Sundance Now offers collections of award-winning dramas, thrillers, documentaries, true crime, international movies and more. The service is a great spot to explore high-quality, off-the-beaten-path titles like One Million American Dreams, God’s Own Country, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, and more.
Just because stores have swapped out Halloween decor for Christmas trees doesn’t mean scary movies should be shelved too. Shudder is the ultimate streaming service for horror movie fans. With a subscription, you can watch classics like Children of the Corn and Carnival of Souls, as well as Shudder Originals, sci-fi, creature features, psychological thrillers and more.
The film buff in your life will love a subscription to the Criterion Channel. The service includes more than 1,000 classic, contemporary, art-house, international and independent films. With a subscription, you can check out films like Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps, An Affair to Remember, Bride of Frankenstein, Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush, Paris is Burning and Frances Ha.
You can find a good selection of anime on other streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu, but Crunchyroll is a well-known hub for manga, games, news, as well as popular anime shows like Attack on Titan, Bleach, My Hero Academia, Death Note and Inuyasha. You can use Crunchyroll for free, but the Premium tier unlocks an ad-free, HD-viewing experience across multiple devices. In addition, you’ll get early access to anime titles within about an hour of the original broadcast in Japan, as well as discounts on DVDs and more.