Many tech enthusiasts are buying 4K TVs or are at least investigating whether a 4K TV is worth the investment. (And, if a 4K TV is worth it by their personal calculus, they’re noting which TVs are worth buying.) But a big part of making the switch to a 4K TV is finding 4K movies and shows to enjoy. It’s true that there’s still less 4K content than you might imagine. Fortunately, 4K movies and 4K TV shows are becoming more abundant.
In fact, you can find a 4K TV and 4K movies via a variety of platforms and apps. Some of those platforms are exclusive to specific brands of TVs, while others are accessible only on select streaming devices. There’s also the option of purchasing a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player. Going that route will set you back a few hundred dollars, but it will give you the best possible picture and audio quality.
Streaming is an option that eliminates the need for (more) pricey equipment. It can be an attractive way to go if you have a fast internet connection. Streaming is, by far, the easiest way to get new content to watch. And it doesn’t require a lot of advanced planning (which is necessary when you’re relying on Blu-ray discs). Read on to check out your best options for streaming 4K movies and 4K TV shows.
1. Amazon Video
A $99 Amazon Prime membership is good for a lot more than fast shipping. Among its laundry list of perks and freebies, the subscription affords you access to Amazon Video. The service offers unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows, including a selection of 4K movies and TV. As Consumer Reports notes, Amazon doesn’t charge extra to watch content in 4K. You’ll just need the Amazon app on a 4K TV. You’ll see a dedicated menu for “Prime Ultra-HD TV” or “Ultra-HD Movies.” Of note is the fact that Amazon is filming its original content in 4K, which should lead to a growing 4K catalog over time.
If you’re a DirecTV subscriber, then you should check out the provider’s dedicated 4K channel. The channel offers travel shows, nature documentaries, and original series. You can also access a library of new 4K movies, documentaries, and classic movies remastered in 4K. DirecTV even offers live programming in 4K. You’ll need DirecTV’s Genie HD DVR in order to view 4K Ultra HD channels, plus a subscription to the Select TV package or higher in order to access 4K movies and TV.
3. Dish Network
Dish Network also offers live and on-demand 4K movies and TV shows. With the Hopper 3 or 4K Joey, you can get live 4K programming on any channel that offers it in your programming package. Dish also offers a variety of 4K movies on-demand, priced at $8 for rentals. And if you can’t find the 4K movies or TV shows that you’re looking for, the same equipment supports Netflix streaming in 4K if you have the correct subscription for it.
If you prefer to keep your subscriptions to a minimum, you should consider FandangoNOW for streaming 4K movies and TV shows. You can rent movies or purchase them as a download on select 4K TVs. (You can check out the list of supported devices here.) 4K movies and some TV shows are available to stream on LG and Samsung 4K TVs or with the Roku 4. Though the service’s catalog of 4K TV shows is currently pretty limited, FandangoNOW says that its television offerings “will continue to grow.” The platform also advises users that they’ll need about 10Mbps of dedicated bandwidth for a satisfying 4K streaming experience.
5. Google Play Movies & TV
For users with a Chromecast Ultra, or any other 4K-capable device with the Google Play Movies & TV app, you can access 4K movies and TV right from the Google Play store. As TechCrunch notes, the 4K movies that Google offers use VP9 and are available for purchase in Google’s web or mobile storefronts. These movies can be streamed via a Chromecast Ultra, a Sony Bravia Android TV, or a Xiaomi Mi Box 3.
Almost everybody has a Netflix account these days. Consumer Reports notes you’ll need to pay for the company’s top-of-the-line, $12 per month subscription if you want UHD content. But that’s probably worth it, since Netflix was one of the first to get on board with 4K and thus has a growing catalog. Like Amazon, Netflix films its original series in 4K. Netflix has also been fairly aggressive about adopting HDR and supports both the HDR10 and Dolby Vision formats. You can search for “4K” or “UHD” to find 4K movies and TV shows. Netflix advises users they need an internet connection of 25Mbps or faster and the streaming quality set to “high” for best results.
7. Sony PlayStation Video
Sony’s PlayStation Video is supported by Sony’s own 4K TVs and a variety of 4K Ultra HD TVs when paired with Sony’s Ultra HD media player. The service enables you to purchase and rent a variety of 4K movies and TV shows with the media player, which boasts 1TB of storage. Renting will save you on storage space, though downloading will give you better picture quality. It’s worth noting many titles are only available for purchase, which makes it a better platform for users who prefer downloading when watching 4K movies and TV.
8. Sony Ultra
If you have a Sony Bravia 4K TV, you’ll want to check out Sony Ultra, the company’s dedicated 4K streaming service. The service supports HDR10, and according to Consumer Reports, it has about 100 4K movies and TV shows. The platform doesn’t offer rentals, so you’ll need to purchase the content you want to watch instead. (Consumer Reports explains movies cost about $30 each on the platform.) According to Sony, around half of the titles available on the platform have HDR. The company plans to make all Sony Pictures 4K and 4K HDR (HDR10) titles available to purchase through Sony Ultra.
UltraFlix, which reportedly wants to be the “Netflix of 4K,” is an option if you want a platform that focuses specifically on 4K content. The company told Consumer Reports it currently offers more than 600 hours of 4K UHD content. (That includes not only 4K movies and TV shows, but also IMAX releases, concert videos, documentaries, and videos from special events.) Consumer Reports notes UltraFlix has struck a deal with Paramount Pictures to offer hundreds of movies from the studio, some of them remastered for 4K. Rentals cost between $1 and $10 and are available for viewing for 48 hours. Plus, UltraFlix also offers about 100 hours of free content.
If you have a compatible system, Vudu is a great choice for getting current titles in 4K. (Only specific models of LG and Vizio 4K UHD TVs are compatible with the 4K HDR service. However, the non-HDR 4K service is also available on 4K Roku TVs, 4K-enabled Roku, Chromecast, and Nvidia Shield.) Consumer Reports notes Vudu’s claim to fame has been its early support for Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos sound. If you own a system that’s compatible with Vudu’s 4K service, you’ll get access to a great selection of top titles. In contrast with options like Netflix, Vudu is a pay-per-view service with options for rentals and purchases instead of a subscription service. You can rent 4K movies for $10 or purchase them for $25.
YouTube is another long-standing source of 4K content. To stream YouTube videos, you’ll need to make sure your TV supports V9, the Google-developed compression codec that YouTube uses instead of the HEVC video codec used by most other streaming services. (As Consumer Reports notes, most newer smart TVs do.) YouTube has a variety of 4K videos, which Consumer Reports points out skews more toward user-generated content than on movies and TV shows. YouTube is free, but also offers YouTube Red, which is an ad-free subscription service that costs $10 each month. You’ll need to check that your specific TV (or the one you’re considering purchasing) supports the 4K version of YouTube’s platform.