Gifting a streaming subscription can be a nice way to help you and your loved ones stay on top of the rapidly growing library of content — especially when you find yourself in need of an easy-to-deliver, practical, or last-minute Christmas gift or holiday present. But figuring out how exactly to do that can be confusing. How do you even gift a subscription? Which ones do gift cards? Are there bundles? Which service has Yellowjackets? Don’t sweat. Let’s go service by service through streaming universe to understand how to shop for them, whether they’re gifts for your loved ones, co-workers, friends, or even yourself.
The gist: If Netflix’s algorithm hasn’t already suggested a show (or five) that piques your interest, you might just be impossible to please. The streamer is constantly churning out content ranging from prestige cinema to trashy reality shows and everything in between. The past year alone had the world buzzing about Kate Bush and holiday pours, thanks in part to titles like The Watcher and Stranger Things (back for a new season!), so why not get your uninitiated loved ones acquainted — or reacquainted — with what the streaming service has to offer.
How to gift it: A gift card! To give Netflix, you can buy $30, $60, or $100 gift cards, either online or in stores like Walmart, Target, or Best Buy. And unlike some other services’ gift subscriptions, a Netflix gift card can apply to new and existing subscribers. They can redeem those cards on Netflix’s website and go to town.
The gist: An easy hit with parents, let your giftee kick off the year with Disney movies like Encanto or Turning Red, get sucked into Marvel and Star Wars with titles like Andor and She Hulk: Attorney at Law, and live wild dreams through Nat Geo documentaries. It can keep kids happy and adults buzzing about laser swords and African lions.
How to gift it: First things first, Disney+ will unfortunately only let you gift a subscription to new users, so if you’re trying to gift it to the Disney Adult in your life … there’s a 99.99 percent chance they already have it. But for anyone else, you can head over to the Disney+ gift subscription page on their website, follow all the instructions and voilà! They’ll get an email laying out exactly how to redeem their subscription, then they’ll be blessed with the gift of seeing Baby Yoda in beautiful 4K. And if you want to bundle Disney+ with Hulu and ESPN+, you can upgrade for a discounted price. Log in to your billing details page to switch to the bundle, and credit from the gift subscription will carry over, so you only pay $8.16 a month instead of $13.99.
The gist: Warner Bros. Discovery’s streaming service may have had a confusing rollout in its first year (and if you’re still figuring it out, fret not! We’ve broken down everything you need to know about HBO Max), but it boasts a very impressive library of content that anyone would appreciate. From classics like Singin’ in the Rain and The Red Shoes to DC Universe content and, of course, HBO shows like The White Lotus and Succession, featuring our No. 1 boy, Jeremy Strong. HBO Max has a little something for everyone, so cheers to that!
How to gift it: You can’t! But nothing says “I love you” more than surprising someone with your log-in info, right?
The gist: If they don’t have a Prime membership yet (an impressive feat in the year of our Lord 2022!), it can turn out to be a great multipurpose gift. Where else can you simultaneously buy a value pack of clay face masks and stare at the hot priest from Fleabag?
How to gift it: You just can’t gift Amazon Video, you gotta gift all of it, with Give the Gift of Prime. Log in and fill out the usual details: your recipient’s email address, when you want it delivered, and a special little message. Amazon offers a three-month gift subscription for $44.97 and a yearlong one for $139.
The gist: If you miss flipping through channels or crave that cable-TV experience without actually paying the price for it, Hulu’s your best bet. The Disney-owned streaming service drops prime-time shows from
NBC, ABC, Freeform, and other TV networks the day after they air, so you can still have your date night with a new episode of Abbott Elementary. Or you can watch FX on Hulu, which gives FX shows like Atlanta, Better Things, and Reservation Dogs exclusive runs on the service. Hulu has its fair share of original shows and movies, including The Dropout and Under the Banner of Heaven.
The gist: The streaming service for old souls, cinephiles, and anyone who insists on calling movies “pictures,” the Criterion Channel boasts a library of over 2,000 titles to get lost in. Discover the entrancing work of French New Wave filmmakers like Agnès Varda and Jean-Luc Godard, and dive into the indie works that probably inspired a lot of your current favorite directors.
How to gift it: The Criterion Channel offers a surprisingly easy gifting process. On the Criterion website, all you have to do is click “Gift Subscription” and pick however many months you’d like to give, from one month for $10.99 up to a one-year subscription for $99.99. Just note that you can only buy a subscription for new users.
The gist: While other new streaming services shot onto the scene with a bang, Apple TV+ was more of the introverted friend who quietly cheers from the sidelines. But never underestimate an introvert! Apple TV+ may have mostly original film and television, but much of that is surprisingly good original film and television. The heartwarming CODA was the first streaming movie to win Best Picture at the Oscars. And It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Rob McElhenney wrote, filmed, and edited a delightful quarantine episode of Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet in just three weeks. Here at Vulture, we also think Severance rules.
How to gift it: Apple TV+ is one of the cheaper subscriptions on the market, going for just $6.99 per month. Giving a subscription is as simple as buying an Apple gift card, which are available basically anywhere. Then there’s Apple One, where you can bundle Apple Music, Apple TV+, and more for $16.95 per month ($6 off buying each service individually). Or if you’re feeling super-generous, you could just purchase your loved one an Apple product, which comes with a free three-month subscription to the service. You’ve got lots of options.
The gist: The home of original shows like Shameless, Billions, and Vulture’s favorite show of 2017, Twin Peaks: The Return, the streamer/premium channel (the lines are blurred nowadays) boasts a great catalogue of recent films. Showtime is a great option for anyone you know who’s looking to catch up on all the excellent films from last year. (First Cow is a fantastic place to start.)
How to gift it: With those sweet, sweet digital and physical gift cards. You can purchase them at most online or physical retailers in $10, $25, $50, and $50 increments.
The gist: Paramount+ has grown a lot since rebranding away from the CBS All Access name, with new originals on the way and “thousands” of shows and movies from BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, and Paramount Pictures’ back catalogues. They joined CBS All Access originals including The Good Fight, Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone, the iCarly revival, and, of course, as much Star Trek content as you could ever possibly need.
How to gift it: The best way to gift a subscription to Paramount+ is by buying a digital gift card. A month’s Premium subscription to the streaming service costs $9.99 per month. (A $4.99 per month tier is available — but you’ll lose live TV and gain limited commercials.) Gift cards come in $25, $50, or $100 dollar amounts. And yes, CBS All Access gift cards can still be applied to Paramount+ if you’ve still got them.
The gist: For the horror fans in your life, Shudder is the most obvious, yet underrated, choice of a streaming service to gift. From innovative horrors like a Zoom séance gone wrong (at this point, do they ever go right?) in Host to unique horror documentaries like Xavier Burgin’s Horror Noire, Shudder is dedicated exclusively to the kinds of films that get your heart racing, with a library full of horror, thriller, and suspense titles.
How to gift it: There are unfortunately no gifting options, but you could always just buy your horror-loving BFF a Visa gift card and provide explicit instructions that it absolutely must be used for a Shudder subscription, or else.
The gist: Peacock is a streaming service dedicated to content from NBC and other entities from the NBCUniversal family, like Paramount, Bravo and E!. The service is similar to Hulu, using a next-day release schedule for its prime-time NBC shows, and Peacock offers a “Channels” feature that can get you scrolling through a program guide. And while Peacock’s original streaming is still growing, Girls5eva and Rutherford Falls are a great start.
How to gift it: Again, you can’t. But you could always offer your friends and neighbors an official open-door policy to come watch Peacock at your house whenever they want.
The gist: Starz has a more modest selection of originals than its fellow premium-cable subscriptions Showtime and HBO, but it does have its share of buzzy, breakout hits like Outlander, plus a decent vault of Sony titles like the Venom and Planet of the Apes franchises and Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth.
How to gift it: Starz claims to have gift cards but only physical ones. No digital options in this economy is certainly a choice! But if you’re out and about, you can try your luck browsing the shelves at your local retailers. If all else fails, a regular subscription to Starz goes for $8.99 per month, and discounts pop up every once in a while. (Right now, you can get a subscription for $2 per month for two months.)
The gist: The go-to network for lifestyle-brand reality TV entered the streaming landscape in January, with a huge library of content that spans Discovery’s portfolio. Along with archives of Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Food Network, TLC, and HGTV shows like Property Brothers; Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives; Planet Earth; and Say Yes to the Dress. Discovery+ is home to new and upcoming original programming including three new 90 Day Fiancé spinoffs, a nature documentary narrated by David Schwimmer, and a partnership with Chip and Joanna Gaines’s Magnolia Network.
How to gift it: Discovery+ offers two gifting options depending on the tech savviness of your giftee. The easiest option is to email a gift subscription directly to your recipient, but you can print and hand deliver a gift certificate. Gift subscriptions start with a six-month sign-up for $41.75.
The gist: A streamer specifically focused on anime, Crunchyroll is another niche service perfect for gifting to a certain category of fan. From shows like My Hero Academia to Naruto and Attack on Titan, Crunchyroll is one of the few comprehensive anime hubs, period. Plus, its different tiered subscriptions — Premium Fan, Mega Fan, and Ultimate Fan — add more to the fan experience through access to Crunchyroll events and discounts at their store. Other than Amazon, it’s one of the few subscriptions on this list to give extra perks.
How to gift it: If you want to give a Premium Fan Crunchyroll subscription, thankfully they have digital gift cards to easily send to your friends and family. The cards are available in one-, three-, and 12-month increments ranging from $7.99 to $79.99. (Buying a yearlong subscription saves you around $16.) Once you buy the digital gift card online, you can choose to email the redeemable card to whomever you plan to gift it to. Easy peasy.
The gist: Mubi is the place for absolute cinephile diehards. A cross between a streaming service, a curated platform, and a place to just discuss movies, Mubi lets you watch and talk about your favorite art-house and indie films with an online community. It’s basically the service to get your friend whose first move after watching a movie is immediately logging it on Letterboxd.
How to gift it: Mubi easily lets you send gift subscriptions. It has two options: You can either gift three months for $29.99 or you can gift a whole year for $79.99. Seeing as how a regular monthly subscription to the service is $10.99, you do save a good 30 percent on the yearly gift, but either way, the option is yours.
The gist: ESPN+ is where you can get
all of (okay, more like some of) the ESPN programming that you and the sports fans you know love. The app doesn’t duplicate or replace the programming that already goes on ESPN or its various subsidiary channels, so fans of leagues like the NFL, MLB, and the NBA will still probably need cable or another sports streaming service to enjoy those massively popular, appointment-TV games. What it does offer is exclusive coverage of UFC; live coverage of boxing, soccer, and big tennis tournaments; and an on-demand library that includes the acclaimed 30 for 30 series.
How to gift it: In full-year commitments at $99.99 a pop and, for new users only, through ESPN+’s gifting portal.
The gist: Hoops fans, rejoice. Gifting an NBA subscription online is much simpler than some of the other marquee sports options out there. League Pass gets you marquee access too — live and on-demand games, access to out-of-market games, select NBA TV Show archives, and even special feeds and additional camera angles, depending on availability. Note that you won’t get around location restrictions like blackouts, but it’s still an easy way to watch the NBA without cable. There are lower and higher subscription tiers, like NBA TV for live coverage, Team Pass to follow just one team, and League Pass Premium to kill commercials and add devices. League Pass is the so-called “fan-favorite” tier.
How to gift it: No specific gift card or purchase option, so the easiest way is to enter the recipient’s email and log-in info on the site and make an account for them while you foot the bill for an annual subscription: $49.99 for NBA TV and $99.99–$129.99 for League Pass plans.
The gist: Sling TV is a live-television streaming service owned by Dish Network. The deal is simple: For one of their subscriptions, users can access live programming without having to deal with a traditional cable or satellite subscription. Sling is a great inexpensive option for live-TV sports fans who love their ESPN or Fox Sports, but don’t need access to every game.
How to gift it: Sling gift cards in a bunch of cash denominations are widely available at brick-and-mortar retailers, and you can buy one through Sling’s website starting at $35.
The gist: For the person in your life who’s more into the BBC than ABC, there’s BritBox, a streaming service dedicated to everything and anything British TV. From Downton Abbey to a whole slew of Agatha Christie films and comedies, there’s plenty to get lost in — and plenty of familiar faces. A quick scroll through the titles, and we already found Olivia Colman, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and Daniel Kaluuya.
How to gift it: Gifting a BritBox subscription isn’t too hard because the company makes it very accessible, so thank you, BritBox. All you have to do is fill out a form that includes an optional note space for you to write a little something for your giftee friend or family member. The only catch is that BritBox only lets you give a yearlong subscription, which costs $79.99. But BritBox does shave off the cost of two months if you buy a whole year, so not too bad.
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