TV series have made an extraordinary development over the past few years. In the past, they were inferior to movies on all fronts, but now TV-series are at least just as popular. With this popularity came bigger budgets, better scripts, and A-list actors. Now, series are unprecedentedly big productions, with million-dollar budgets for each episode.
Other than channels like HBO and AMC, streaming services were quick to exploit this new hype. But there’s a small drawback: because of legal issues, you can’t enjoy the same offer on every streaming service anymore. We sought out the best streaming services and their most popular series for you, and with that the best VPN to combine with your subscription.
Netflix is not unknown to many people. The company was quick to see the potential of streaming series online. By cleverly investing in original productions and procuring streaming licenses for the greatest series, Netflix obtained a giant audience. But those very licenses do cause the different offer in each country. Because the company uses geo blocking, you aren’t able to watch many series that are available on the American Netflix in The Netherlands. Unless, of course, you’re using a VPN. With this you can really enjoy everything that Netflix has to offer. Netflix’s offer is outstanding: many well-known series from big channels, original productions, comedy specials and peculiar original animation projects.
Recommended series: Stranger Things, Better Call Saul, Star Trek Discovery, Master of None, Orange is the New Black, Bojack Horseman, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Narcos, Arrested Development, Dark, Glow, Ozark.
– €7.99 for the basic plan (VPN necessary for American content)
– €13.99 for UHD streaming (VPN necessary for American content)
Best streaming services for series? Amazon is one of the biggest rivals of Netflix, especially in the United States. By digging into his pockets Amazon boss Jeff Bezos has acquired a number of exceptional licenses. The switch of Top Gear’s team from BBC to Amazon with the name The Grand Tour has caused great uproar. Amazon has also been working hard on a Lord of the Rings series, and has bought the rights to create a new season of the amazing sci-fi series The Expanse.
Already existing series on the platform aren’t to be sniffed at either. Amazon is pursuing influence in Europe, but for most people the offer is still limited. If you don’t mind absent subtitles, you can revel in Amazon Prime’s offer using a VPN. They may not generate as much publicity as the series on Netflix, but their offer is barely inferior to Netflix’s. With all the series that are coming up, Amazon Prime will only become more and more interesting with time.
Recommended series: The Man in the High Castle, Bosch, The Tick, The Expanse, The Marvelous ms. Maisel, Sneaky Pete, The Grand Tour, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Hand of God, Jean-Claude van Johnson, Fleabag
– €5.99 per month (VPN necessary for American content)
In Europe Hulu is still quite unknown. This is not very strange, since they are only active in the US and Japan. Their offer is excellent, because a few of the biggest producers in the industry manage the platform together. You do need a VPN and an American account to use the service in Europe. Once you’ve taken all those steps, you can enjoy top-notch series such as Castle Rock (based on stories of Stephen King), The Handmaid’s Tale, Future Man and many more. A large number of legendary series such as Seinfeld, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Community are available on Hulu, which makes their offer broader than other streaming services. Original Hulu productions, however, are scarce.
Recommended series: Parks & Rec, 30 Rock, Future Man, Castle Rock, 11-22-63, Runaways, The Handmaid’s Tale, Seinfeld, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Community, X-Files, Battlestar Galactica, Twin Peaks, Rick & Morty.
– $7.99 per month (including ads, VPN necessary)
– $11.99 per month (ad-free, VPN necessary)
Starz is one of the bigger television networks in the United States with many original productions that are worth watching. In fact, many of the Starz series are licensed by Netflix and are being broadcasted in Europe as ‘Netflix Originals’. Horror series Ash vs. Evil Dead for example, as well as pirate series Black Sails and gladiator epic Spartacus. All in all, Starz really hinges on their original productions, but every single one of them are worth watching. Because the licenses in Europe are divided among mainly Netflix and Amazon, it might be beneficial to combine a Starz subscription with a VPN. This way you can carelessly watch all series.
A subscription to Starz is relatively cheaper than one to other streaming services, because you’re essentially subscribing to a TV channel. You can also combine a subscription to Amazon with a subscription to Starz and Showtime. This way you have access to all of these services from Amazon.
Recommended series: Outlander, American Gods, Black Sails, Ash vs. Evil Dead, Power, The Girlfriend Experience, Howard’s End, The Missing, Spartacus, The Pillars of the Earth, Torchwood, Boss, Blunt Talk, Party Down.
– $8.99 per month (VPN necessary)
HBO is singlehandedly responsible for the very renaissance that the industry is experiencing at this moment. Before HBO started focusing on longer storylines in series, practically no-one was doing this. This focus on bigger stories instead of episodes with little interrelation led to insane series such as “The Wire”, “Game of Thrones”, “The Sopranos” and many more. The success of these series led to the current situation, in which “bad guy of the week” episodes are rare. HBO’s offer is, in short, excellent. They have the biggest series of the past few decennia in their portfolio. Luckily, most of HBO can be watched in The Netherlands via Ziggo. However, if you want to use HBO Now, you’ll have to depend on a VPN for HBO.
Recommended series: Game of Thrones, Westworld, The Wire, The Sopranos, Silicon Valley, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Deadwood, True Detective, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Boardwalk Empire, Six Feet Under.
– €11.95 per month via Ziggo Movies & Series XL package
– $15 per month via HBO in the US (VPN necessary)
If you’re looking for a decent series to watch, but you’re on a budget, then Sony’s streaming service “Crackle” can provide a solution. Crackle is free, but it is supported by ads. The offer on the service can differ per month, but there is always something decent to watch. In any event the price won’t be an obstacle. The only downside is that Crackle is solely active in the United States, so a VPN for Crackle is a must. Those entry costs are nonetheless much lower than the average subscription to a streaming service. As far as original productions go, Crackle is a little bit behind on the competition, but the complete offer is fine.
Recommended series: Chosen, Snatch, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, The Oath, Super Mansion, Startup, Snatch, Married with Children, Rake, Seinfeld, The Shield, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
– free with ads (VPN necessary)
Not all great series are American. The Brits too have made quite a number of excellent series over the past couple of years. The focus point of these series and the complete offer are different from what you see in the US on all fronts. Maybe that makes them especially worthwhile. The BBC is of course responsible for astounding nature series such as Planet Earth and Blue Planet, which you’ll naturally come across on this platform. Furthermore you will find marvelous comedies such as Miranda, the ever so popular Dr. Who and the high-profile series of Louis Theroux on the iPlayer. Additionally, most popular British soaps such as Eastenders are of course well represented.
The budgets may be a little smaller, but the iPlayer contains more than enough interesting series for an evening of binge-watching. The best part is certainly the price. Because the BBC is a public service broadcaster, their service is free to use. The BBC does use geoblocking, so a VPN for BBC iPlayer is necessary.
Recommended series: Dynasties, Blue Planet, Dr. Who, Louis Theroux’s Altered States, Eastenders, Miranda, Strictly Come Dancing, QI, Clique, The Little Drummer Girl, The Night Manager, Fleabag.
– free (VPN necessary)
Showtime has quite a number of excellent series in its portfolio as a premium cable subscription in the US. This is not unusual considering the fact that the company is property of the enormous CBS network. You can watch some of the most high-profile series of the past few years via a subscription to Showtime. What about the return of the legendary Twin Peaks, but also the amazing Billions, Master of Sex, Homeland, and The Affair. Showtime has got something for everyone. You can buy a separate subscription to the service or add a subscription to a Hulu or Amazon Prime account with a small discount. Sadly, the service is restricted to the United States, so a VPN for Showtime Anytime is necessary. But that does grant you an exceptionally broad offer of series.
Recommended series: Masters of sex, Twin Peaks, Billions, The Affair, Episodes, Dexter, Nurse Jackie, Ray Donovan, Shameless, The Borgias, Weeds, Web Therapy, The Tudors, Californication, House of Lies.
– $11 per month (VPN necessary)
– $9 per month via Amazon or Hulu (VPN necessary)
We know what you’re thinking: YouTube? Yes, Alphabet too, the company behind YouTube and Google, has realized that they can earn serious money from series. And their first little steps into this industry have been surprisingly successful. That is of course somewhat expected with a budget that is a great deal bigger than that of most television producers. YouTube is able to cleverly combine their offer, because you also have access to purchases from the Google Play Store for example. In any case, they seem to take their new platform seriously.
Cobra Kai, the revival of The Karate Kid, was extremely successful and singlehandedly enticed many people to subscribe to YouTube Premium. Still, far from all content is at the level of the competition. YouTube also has an undue focus on showing their own well-known faces such as PewDiePie (a popular game streamer) in their content. This doesn’t always generate good television, but the real series seem to put things right again. It’s definitely worthwhile to check it out. A subscription to the streaming service is combined with the YouTube Premium subscription, with which you have access to YouTube Music and other YouTube services too.
Recommended series: Cobra Kai, Impulse, Escape the Night, Mindfield, Rhett and Link’s Buddy System, Foursome, Youth and Consequences, Step Up: High Water, Lifeline, Good Game, Fight of the Living Dead.
– €11,99 per month (VPN necessary)
CBS All Access
Other than Showtime, CBS also has its own streaming service called CBS All Access. Here, original productions are prioritized and the quality is a little better. CBS has been producing excellent series for years and owns a few special licenses. Legendary series such as Star Trek and Twin Peaks have gotten sequels in the past few years. Yet, there is still enough new content to be found and it’s funny to see that our own Big Brother is still being broadcasted by CBS.
Other than this, you can also find many classic series such as Cheers, Taxi or Family Ties on CBS All Access. There absolutely is some overlap between CBS and for example Showtime. Also, on your local streaming services, you will see some of the same series, because of license resemblances. Because CBS All Access is American service, you will need a VPN to buy a subscription and watch the series. You can also add CBS All Access to an Amazon subscription.
Recommended series: Star Trek Discovery, Twin Peaks, Madam Secretary, Medium, NCIS, Scorpion, The Amazing Race, 2 Broke Girls, The Good Fight, Cheers, Beverly Hills 90210, Frasier, Family Ties, JAG, Taxi.
– $5,99 with ads (VPN necessary)
– $9,99 (VPN necessary)
Concerning series too, Vudu is somewhat of a strange addition. You can best compare the service to an old-fashioned video rental shop, where you rent movies or series for a limited amount of time. There is something to be said for this business model, because Vudu stays out of the big boy’s territory this way and is able to add a lot of content that is exclusively available on other platforms. On the other hand, you do have to pay per episode or per season. This can sometimes be more expensive than a monthly subscription to your favorite streaming service. However, you can choose from practically every available series on Vudu.
From The Simpsons to Friends to HBO series such as House of Cards, on Vudu they’re available. You do need a VPN to visit the website. Without a VPN in Europe, a 403 forbidden error will pop up. So they didn’t even make an effort to create a separate page to let the rest of the world know that there’s a geo block on the website.
Recommended series: The Simpsons, Family Guy, Friends, Gossip Girl, Sons of Anarchy, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, ER, Empire, Outcast, 12 Monkeys, The Americans, 24, Shooter, The West Wing.
– individually priced per movie for rent or sale (VPN necessary)
Conclusion: The best VPN for streaming services
There’s an awful lot to choose from if you’re looking for the best streaming services for series. The competition is murderous. With the arrival of new services of Disney and DC Comics, it’s only becoming more difficult to find the series that you’re looking for. At the same time, there is a lot of overlap between services, because licenses differ per area. If you have a subscription to Showtime, a subscription to Hulu is pretty much useless, because there are many of the same series on these services.
A subscription to Netflix in Europe sometimes has a lot of overlap with series that are available on Amazon in America (science fiction series “The Expanse” is a good example of this). So it does pay off to really look into the subscriptions, to make sure there’s as little overlap as possible. It’s notable that there are a few nice, free options for VPN users. Services such as Crackle and Vudu offer free series that are certainly worth watching. In any case you’ll get the best out of your streaming subscription with a VPN, because it grants you access to the much bigger libraries of other countries. So it pays off to take a close look at our list of the best VPNs, so that you can use the internet in the best way possible.