Once upon a time, a 4K TV was a luxury reserved for the rich. Not anymore. Today, you can get 4K TVs for less than $500, and with 8K just around the corner, they’re bound to become even more affordable.
But despite the great price, finding good 4K content still isn’t that easy. Just because it exists doesn’t mean it has become standardized. Once you know where to look, though, there’s plenty of 4K content available. Yes, you’ll need to pay for it, and you’ll need the right gear, but it’s worth the visual experience. We’ve found all the best sources of 4K content around and have gathered them here for you.
Cost: $15 per month.
Requirements: Only select devices support 4K HDR on HBO Max and it’s not exactly clear which devices do and don’t. While HBO has definitively stated that Android TV, Chromecast with Google TV, Chromecast Ultra, 4K Fire TVs, Apple TV 4K, and the Android TV-powered AT&T TV support HBO Max in 4K, that’s the entire list at the moment.
While HBO Max launched without 4K compatibility, it caught up by making the day-and-date release of Wonder Woman 1984 available in 4K. Warner Bros. also announced that it would release its entire 2021 slate on HBO Max at no extra cost to subscribers, all of which will be available in 4K. No word yet on whether other content will eventually be made available in 4K.
Cost: $18 per month for the Premium plan that includes Ultra HD content.
Requirements: Recommended internet speed of 25Mbps or higher; a 4K Ultra HD smart TV with the Netflix app built-in, from manufacturers including Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Sony, Vizio, Philips, TCL, and Hisense; or a compatible 4K Ultra HD TV connected to any of the recent 4K-capable Roku streamers, , Google Chromecast Ultra, or Google’s latest Chromecast with Google TV, among others.
Netflix, a constant innovator, was one of the first services to offer 4K Ultra HD content, which took flight with the second season of its original series House of Cards. Since then, the content has been growing consistently — all of the service’s major original series are now being shot in 4K, and some in HDR and Dolby Vision, including recent hits and old favorites. Netflix is also continuously adding new original 4K films and breathtaking nature docs to its library among select 4K blockbuster titles. If you’ve made the leap to 4K Netflix, but for some reason you’re not getting it, head to our guide on how to fix it.
Amazon Prime Video
Cost: Included with a $120 per year or $13 per month Prime Membership; select titles for a rental start at $6, and titles for purchase range from $10 to $20.
Requirements: Recommended internet speed of 25Mbps or higher; a 4K UHD TV with the Amazon Prime app installed or installable, from manufacturers such as Samsung, LG, Sony, Vizio, TCL, and Panasonic; or a compatible 4K Ultra HD TV connected to 4K-capable Roku streamers, Chromecast, Nvidia Shield TV streamer, Apple TV 4K, and (of course) Amazon Fire TV 4K-capable streaming devices.
Amazon’s “free” service — which comes with a Prime subscription — launched with 4K Ultra HD versions of some of its original series like Mozart in the Jungle and Transparent and has since expanded to include most of its original series, as well as lots of other television series and films. Amazon also streams many of its original series in HDR, including Jack Ryan in Dolby Vision.
The service also has a rotating selection of 4K Ultra HD movies as part of its Prime collection; the exact number of specific titles available will vary from month to month. As for the not-so-free selections, Amazon sells a number of 4K Ultra HD titles starting at around $20.
Cost: Starting at $6 for an ad-riddled experience, $12 for ad-free.
Requirements: Recommended internet speed of 16Mbps or higher; select 4K UHD TVs, including 4K Vizio SmartCast TVs and LG TVs; compatible 4K streaming devices, such as Apple TV 4K, Xbox One S or Xbox One X, Roku 4K devices, Google Chromecast Ultra or Chromecast with Google TV, or Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick.
After pulling its entire catalog of 4K content without so much of a sniffle to its customers back in 2018, Hulu has once again ventured into the wonderful world of 4K Ultra HD. Originally only available for Apple TV 4K and Chromecast Ultra owners, 4K support has since been expanded.
You’ll find most of your 4K content in Hulu Originals, but not all of them are available that crisp. You’ll also find a smattering of 4K movies, but these are a lot more scarce and take a bit of work to find. Expect Hulu to expand its selection throughout 2020 and beyond.
Cost: $6 per month
Requirements: Select Ultra HD TVs by Samsung, Sony, and LG; Streaming boxes and sticks like 4K-capable Roku devices, Apple TV 4K, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Nvidia Shield TV, and Xiaomi Mi Box S; Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Many of the services featured on this list existed before the 4K streaming explosion, so their respective content injections were slow and painful, but you don’t have to worry about that with Disney+. There are over 600 movies and shows to choose from, many of which are available in 4K Ultra HD and HDR. You can expect most new stuff to be delivered in 4K, including Star Wars spinoff series The Mandalorian, Marvel’s WandaVision and their latest films, and all the National Geographic documentaries you can handle. Keep digging, and you’ll see that Disney+ even offers some of your favorite classics at this level of fidelity.
Cost: Starting at $6 for new release rentals, $20 for new release purchases; Apple TV+ is $4.99/month
Requirements: Compatible 4K UHD TV; Apple TV 4K streaming box; minimum internet speed of 25 Mbps for 4K streaming
Following the release of the Apple TV 4K, iTunes began adding a selection of 4K and HDR content to its store. These titles are available to purchase or rent. Finding content in the iTunes store is easy — icons flag the content as 4K, HDR, and/or Dolby Vision (Dolby’s proprietary HDR format). One perk of iTunes is that the 4K versions of titles cost the same as the HD versions, which is drastically cheaper than most other services.
Additionally, you can find 4K content on your Apple TV 4K across apps. 4K content is available from streamers like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, ESPN, as well as Apple Originals from the Apple TV+ subscription. In most cases, you will not have to pay extra to view available content in 4K when using an Apple TV 4K.
Cost: Some rentals are free (ad-supported); paid 4K rentals start at $3, or $10 to $20 for purchase.
Requirements: Recommended internet speed of 10 to 11Mbps or higher; Select Sony, Samsung, Vizio, LG, and Roku-equipped 4K TVs and Blu-ray players; Xbox One X or Xbox One S; 4K-enabled Roku streamers, Apple TV 4K, Chromecast Ultra/Chromecast with Google TV, or Nvidia Shield TV device paired with compatible 4K Ultra HD TVs; Windows 10 PC
Movie rental/downloading service Vudu has been quietly working its way into the 4K Ultra HD conversation. The service has slowly expanded the number of supported devices and is constantly adding more. Vudu’s library is continually updated with many of the latest UHD movie releases, and it’s now one of the better services for finding UHD films to show off your 4K TV’s capabilities. It’s also part of Movies Anywhere, which lets you store your digital vault from multiple services.
Cost: Free; $12 per month for YouTube Premium subscription; $2 to $15 for film rentals/purchases.
Requirements: Recommended internet speed of 25Mbps or higher; Ultra HD TV with Android TV OS and select Samsung, LG, Sony, Sharp, and Hisense TVs, as well as Vizio SmartCast TVs; Xbox One S and Xbox One X; 4K-capable Roku streamer, Amazon Fire TV, Nvidia Shield TV, or Chromecast Ultra or Chromecast with Google TV hooked up to a 4K TV. Keep in mind that the number of TVs that support YouTube’s brand of 4K is still in flux — just because there’s a YouTube app doesn’t mean it’ll be in 4K — so check with retailers before making a purchase.
Thanks in large part to its massive army of video contributors and a barrage of 4K cameras now on the market, YouTube has quickly become one of the best sources for 4K Ultra HD content. You won’t find a big catalog of films or TV series, but those looking for some brilliant scenes to show off their TV’s mad 4K Ultra HD skills will find them here — everything from nature videos to high-flying stunts. And perhaps best of all, most of it is free — such as the popular HDR Channel.
Cost: $1 to $10 per rental.
Requirements: Recommended minimum download speed of 10Mbps or higher; app available on select Samsung, Hisense, Vizio, and Sony Bravia Ultra HD TVs, 4K-capable Roku devices, Apple TV 4K, Amazon Fire TV, Nvidia Shield TV streaming box, or Windows 10 PC.
As the self-proclaimed host of the largest 4K Ultra HD library of streaming content available, Ultraflix hosts several hundred hours of 4K nature documentaries (including multiple titles originally created for Imax), dozens of concerts, videos from musical acts, and hundreds of hours of sci-fi, action, comedy, and drama, all for rental in 48-hour blocks.
Sony’s PlayStation Video
Cost: Starting at $2 for TV episode rentals, $3 per movie for a 24-hour rental, and $10 to $35 for purchases.
Requirements: Sony 4K Ultra HD TV; 4K Ultra HD TV with HDCP 2.2 copyright protection and a PlayStation 4 Pro for 4K Ultra HD playback (other Sony devices are supported, but they do not have 4K playback).
Sony’s video on demand (VOD) service allows the purchase and rental of more than 200 movies and TV shows. It’s one of the less common services on this list, with only select 4K Sony devices — TVs, Blu-ray players, and the PlayStation 4 Pro — being compatible. That’s not a great situation if you’re not all-in on Sony, but PlayStation Video has a sizable library of 4K content. Sony regularly runs promotions for films coming out of its own studios, such as Spider-Man: Homecoming or The Dark Tower. If these bonuses are important to you, PlayStation Video is a perfectly fine source for 4K entertainment.
Cost: Rentals start at $5 (varies by title) and movies cost $15 to $35 to purchase.
Requirements: Recommended minimum 10Mbps download speed; select Samsung and LG Ultra HD TVs, PC, or 4K-capable Roku streamer hooked up to 4K Ultra HD TV.
This service was originally known as M-Go, before Fandango purchased and rebranded it. It offers 4K UHD movies for either purchase or rental, as well as a healthy selection of films that are also offered with HDR. Unlike some other services, FandangoNow has a list on its website that makes it easy to see which movies are available with HDR, and what is only available in standard 4K.
Google Play Movies and TV
Cost: $6 rentals, $10 to $30 for purchase.
Requirements: 20Mbps internet connection; 4K-capable Android TVs from Samsung, Sony, or LG; Chromecast Ultra or newer Chromecast with Google TV, Nvidia Shield TV, or 4K-capable Roku streamer connected to a 4K TV, among other Google devices.
Google has its own 4K streaming devices, the latest being the Chromecast with Google TV (which has replaced the Chromecast Ultra), and the Google Play Store has a selection of 4K movies available for rental or purchase. This service isn’t just relegated to the Chromecast, however. Any 4K-capable streamer that supports Google Play — such as Roku devices or the Nvidia Shield — can access these movies via the Google Play app.
Cost: Starts at $55 per month.
Requirements: 30Mbps internet speed recommended; Streaming devices like Chromecast Ultra, Fire TV, Roku, or Apple TV; Select Ultra HD Android TV sets by Sony, Sharp, Hisense; Nvidia Shield Android TV box; Xiaomi Mi Box
In July 2018, FuboTV became the first live-sports TV-streaming service to offer programming in 4K with HDR. At first, the only games to take advantage of this increased visual fidelity were 2018 World Cup matches, but the service later added some NCAA football games in 4K as well. While 4K content is still fairly limited, the service is equipped to show both Fox and FS1 in 4K with HDR10, so if nothing else, expect to see more live sports making use of these technologies moving forward. Fubo also has a limited selection of 4K content on-demand, so check it out if you want a first-hand preview of what the live events might look like.
Broadcast, Blu-ray, and gaming
Cost: $4 to $16 per 4K Ultra HD title on demand; live channel requires DirecTV Choice or higher package.
Requirements: On-demand: Manufacturer-certified DirecTV 4K-ready TV (or standard 4K TV and 4K Genie Mini) and DirecTV’s Genie HD DVR (model 530 and up). Live: Previous requirements plus the latest Genie HD DVR.
Pioneering the first 4K Ultra HD service for any cable or satellite provider, DirecTV has delivered a handful of VOD movies in 4K since 2014. Currently, DirecTV offers a wide range of 4K movies, including titles like Tenet, The New Mutants, and Promising Young Woman. The channel also offers live programming on a limited, event-based schedule, which you can preview at any time right here.
Cost: $8 per 4K Ultra HD title on-demand, live packages start at $60; $10 per month access fees.
Requirements: Dish Hopper 3, 4K Joey (optional add-on for more than one TV), and compatible 4K Ultra HD TV, Dish Network programming package.
With the introduction of its Hopper 3 hardware and 4K Joey, Dish joins a growing list of cable providers offering 4K content both live and on-demand. As long as you’ve got the equipment, the money, and the ability to commit two years to pay it, live 4K programming is available on any channel that offers 4K, though that is an admittedly small list at this point. As more channels add 4K programming, you’ll theoretically be able to access it as long as the channel is in your programming package. A fair number of movies are available in 4K on-demand as well, for $8 per rental, compared to $3 for standard definition and $7 for high definition.
In August 2018, Dish added Epix’s full catalog of 4K movies to its catalog. This brought titles like Arrival, The Magnificent Seven, Star Trek Beyond, and Transformers: The Last Knight to the service in 4K. You’ll either need to subscribe to Epix for $7 per month or the Dish Movie Pack for $10 a month, but in general, more 4K content is better than less 4K content.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for in 4K via Dish’s live or on-demand offerings, the company’s hardware also supports Netflix and Amazon Prime Video streaming in 4K, though you’ll need the appropriate subscriptions to access them.
Cost: Free to Xfinity TV customers.
Requirements: Xfinity XG1v4, Xi6, or select Roku devices, select 4K TVs from LG, Samsung, and Sony.
Comcast premiered its own 4K service in December 2014 with a streaming app. For now, there are limited titles available, most of which fall under the umbrella of Comcast subsidiary NBCUniversal’s library. At first, 4K content was only available from a VOD app for Samsung UHD TVs, but the service eventually released 4K set-top boxes with support for live broadcasts, though you can’t yet record the higher resolution feeds. The service also offers Netflix integration and even includes a subscription in some packages, letting you watch Netflix in 4K via your Xfinity set-top box.
Ultra HD Blu-ray
Cost: Ultra HD Blu-ray players run anywhere from $80 to $1,000; Ultra HD Blu-rays average $15 to $30 per movie.
A physical format some have dismissed as obsolete in the streaming age, Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and their corresponding players offer the best way to watch 4K Ultra HD content in terms of quality. The platform exhibits fewer artifacts than highly compressed 4K streams and brings along HDR10 and Dolby Vision support (along with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X immersive sound). Just note you will need an Ultra HD Blu-ray viewer to view them, or an Xbox One S or Xbox One X.
Price: About $20 to $60 per game, plus fees for additional content and premium online services.
While there’s plenty to watch from the services and platforms discussed in this article, it’s not the only form of entertainment your 4K TV can enhance. For the gaming crowd, there are now four 4K- and HDR-compatible consoles on the market: The Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, and the immediate predecessors PlayStation 4 Pro and the Xbox One X.
Xbox Series X, Xbox One X, Xbox One S, and PS 5 all support 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, although PS4 Pro does not. The PS4 Pro does play HD Blu-rays and supports 4K streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.