Tom's Guide Awards 2023: The best of streaming devices, services and shows this year

Tom's Guide Awards 2023: Apple TV 4K (2022) remote pointed at the tvOS Home screen
(Image credit: Shutterstock/Tom's Guide)

Streaming has come a long way: just look at the innovations we've seen this year across the entertainment category. Binge-worthy TV series and movies debuted on Apple TV Plus, Netflix, Disney Plus and more. HBO Max is now just "Max" and Amazon Freevee became one of our favorite destinations for new shows.

Thanks to the expanse of content and more live TV streaming, there's never been a better time to cut the cord. Whether its with a top-rated streaming device or a smart TV, you can find practically everything you want to watch through streaming apps. 

Be sure to check out all of the best devices, platforms and content that we reviewed rom the streaming category this past year. For all of this year's big winners see our complete list of winners of the Tom's Guide Awards 2023.

Best streaming device

Best streaming device: Apple TV 4K (2022)

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We love the latest-gen Apple TV 4K for the change Apple made at retail, chopping $50 off the starting price. This way, it's slightly more affordable, and easier to give as a gift — your parents deserve a great streaming box, too, you know. On top of that, it's still the fastest streaming box with the cleanest operating system on the market today. Apple's still improving the Apple TV 4K, though, by adding FaceTime via iPhone and iPad as well as Find My support for the new Siri remotes in tvOS 17, which will also feature an enhanced dialogue audio setting for those with 2nd generation HomePods. Simply put, this is the best streaming device right now.

Best budget streaming device

Best budget streaming device: Onn 4K Google TV streaming box

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We're as shocked as you are, but Walmart's Onn 4K Google TV streaming box brand delivered 4K streaming at a shockingly low price with this $20 Google TV box. But even at $30 less than Amazon and Google's 4K streaming devices, it still packs HDR video. You'll likely be pleasantly surprised by this streamer, and a lot of that comes from the Google TV OS it runs. The home screen includes a portal to over 800 free ad-supported channels, the performance is decent and it's got practically every app you could ask for, all in an unassuming little box. 

Best streaming service

Best streaming service: Max

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Despite a silly name change, not much has changed about Max since it was called HBO Max, which is why it remains the best streaming service for the second year in a row. The library offers both quality (all those prestige HBO shows) and even more quantity than before, thanks to the addition of Discovery Plus content. While Succession and 90 Day Fiance may seem like strange bedfellows, variety is the spice of streaming life. Max now balances appointing viewing with mindless marathoning, which makes it a must-have in your home entertainment portfolio.

Best live TV streaming service

Best live TV streaming service: Sling TV

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Still the modest little engine that could, Sling TV's low entry price and customizability makes it the best option for first-time cord-cutters looking to save a ton on their live television bill. Plus, with the addition of ABC on Sling Blue in select markets, Sling subscribers have less reason to look at pricier options. It also packs select channels that not all of its competitors offer, such as Vice (not on YouTube TV) and AMC (not on Fubo). In a year where nearly every streaming service hit users with price hikes, Sling TV's meager $5 per month bump was one of the least offensive out there for the best cable alternative.

Best sports streaming service

Best sports streaming service: YouTube TV

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YouTube TV's long been a favorite for cord-cutters who want to watch sports, and it's put in the effort this year to ensure it retains its champion status. Its Key Plays feature has always made catching up on games easy, but the new Multiview mode makes it easy to watch up to four games at once. We're looking forward to more user control over this feature as it evolves, and happy to see YouTube TV add a Spanish-language sports multiview option. Plus, football fans have a big reason to switch to YouTube TV this fall, as NFL Sunday Ticket is $100 cheaper on YouTube TV.

Best value streaming service

Best value streaming service: Peacock

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Peacock may have started out as a little-heralded ugly duckling, but it’s found its wings in the past year. Of all the streaming services hovering in the $5-7 range, Peacock’s library offers the best value. It’s got next-day episodes of current shows on NBC and Bravo; classics like The Office and Parks and Recreation; hit movies from Universal Pictures; live sports including the Olympics, Premier League, golf and WWE; and a great slate of originals in Poker Face, The Traitors and Mrs. Davis. Nowhere else can you tune into the Scandoval reunion, take in Cocaine Bear and binge Law & Order all in the same app. 

Best free streaming service

Best free streaming service: Freevee

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Freevee won this category last year, outshining rivals like Pluto and The Roku Channel, based on a slightly more extensive and recent collection of movies and TV shows. In the year since, Amazon’s free streaming service got even better. While we’re still not in love with its interface (either in the standalone app or via Prime Video), Freevee provides access to excellent exclusives and interesting originals. No free streaming original impressed like Jury Duty — which just happens to be our selection in the next category.

Best streaming reality show

Best streaming reality show: Jury Duty

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Nobody could’ve predicted what a cultural phenomenon Freevee would have on its hands with Jury Duty. The part-comedy, part-reality show is unlike anything seen on television lately. Jury Duty chronicles the day-to-day of a civil trial. One of the jurors, Ronald Gladden, is unaware that everything around him is an act —the judge, lawyers and other jurors are all actors. James Marden even plays a pretentious version of himself who’s annoyed by serving as an alternate juror. As the trial goes on, Ronald faces increasingly outlandish events yet remains committed to seeking justice. Jury Duty is essentially a heartwarming, well-meaning prank show where the subject isn’t made a fool, but a hero.

Best streaming show

Best streaming show: Succession

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(Image credit: Macall B. Polay/HBO)

The battle for this category was one worthy of the cutthroat Roys, but in the end, Succession prevailed. The final chapter of the HBO series kept us on the edge of our seats as the eponymous corporate conflict played out. Spoiler alert: The death of patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox) so early in the season was a shock, and it triggered magnificent performances of grief and greed by Jeremy Strong (as Kendall), Kieran Culkin (as Roman) and Sarah Snook (as Shiv). While many worthy shows have aired this past year, Succession ranks at the top with its mix of high drama and mordant comedy. This was appointment viewing at its finest. 

Best streaming movie

Best streaming movie: Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

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Delightfully rewatchable as you peel back its layers, Glass Onion is the perfect Netflix movie. While it had a very-brief stint in theaters, this Knives Out sequel was mostly seen by those who tuned in on streaming, which has been aching for new release movies as of late. Not only does Daniel Craig charm with his Southern drawl as sleuth Benoit Blanc, but Kate Hudson steals the show with the best delivery of flat-out silly dialogue. All while Edward Norton delivers a villain for the social media era, as his Miles Bron is the perfect mix of stupid and confident. Glass Onion's twists will keep you entertained throughout, while you play "spot the cameo." (Yes, that was Hugh Grant.) 

Tom's Guide Staff

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