With over 12,000 Fire TV apps to choose from, the Fire TV app store can be overwhelming. On the same day that I got my first Fire TV Stick, I downloaded more than 30 apps — many of which I never use. Since you probably want to skip the confusion and jump straight to the fun, we’ve put together a list of the best Fire TV apps for streaming, must-have utilities, and even a game or two.
Netflix: The Best Streaming App on Fire TV
More than anything else, a Fire TV device is a streaming device. The goal here is to stream your favorite movies and TV shows, and you’ll have plenty of options for apps. Of all the streaming services that work with Fire TV, this is our favorite.
Netflix needs no introduction in the world of cord-cutters. They are the original streaming service, and they still dominate in terms of subscribers. They may not have the stranglehold on third-party content that they used to, but they have more than made up for that with their ever-growing lineup of original shows and movies.
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One of the best things about a Netflix subscription is that this truly is a streaming service for everyone. Whether you like fantasy, documentaries, romance, suspense, or comedy, there’s a Netflix show for you. They even have an entire section for kids.
Yes, Netflix has had a few duds, but that’s bound to happen when you release an average of at least one original title per day. Ignore the naysayers; they’re just jealous that Netflix has more hit shows under “S” (“Shadow and Bone,” “Stranger Things,” “Sweet Tooth,” “Sex Education,” among others) than most services have in their entire catalog.
Max: The Best Fire TV App for Original Content
Original content sets streaming services apart. When you dive into an original TV show or film, you know that you’re watching something that you can’t get anywhere else.
Most services draw you in with either original content or access to blockbuster movies. With Max, you get both as well as same-day theatrical releases and so much more.
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Max isn’t HBO’s first foray into the world of streaming. Thankfully, this simplified service has completely replaced the confusing dual apps of HBO NOW and HBO GO. If you love watching movies and original TV shows on HBO, Max will quickly become one of your favorite cord-cutting options. And if you have HBO through a cable provider, you may already have free access to Max.
All subscribers to Max’s ad-free tier enjoy complimentary same-day WB theatrical releases. That’s on top of their already impressive arsenal of movies from popular franchises like Godzilla and Rocky. Then, you can top that off with “Doom Patrol,” “The White Lotus,” and other HBO original series. Oh, and if you were wondering where “Friends” went after it left Netflix, then wonder no more: It’s on Max.
Hulu: The Best Affordable Streaming App on Fire TV
Great streaming doesn’t have to cost you a mint. If you have a Fire TV device, then you have access to some great cheap streaming services (and even a few decent free ones). Here’s our top pick for budget streamers on Fire TV devices.
Hulu’s ad-supported tier is one of the cheapest streaming plans out there. If the ads bother you, you always have the option to upgrade to the ad-free plan, which is still cheaper than most streaming services.
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There aren’t many streaming services under $10 per month anymore, and even fewer that have as much quality content as Hulu. For the low price of a Hulu subscription, you get access to original titles like “Handmaid’s Tale” and new episodes of shows like “Archer” the day after they hit cable. That’s a bit more old school than the full-season Netflix binge, but it’s better than hiding from spoilers for months at a time.
New episodes of hit TV shows and original Hulu content may be the biggest draws, but the service has also expanded their offerings in recent years. You can find full seasons and often full series of shows like “Family Guy” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” They’ve also rapidly expanded their movie offerings, so you can watch “Parasite,” “Rocketman,” and “Shrek” while waiting for the next episode of your favorite show to drop.
Pluto TV: The Best TV App on Fire TV
What’s better than cheap streaming? Free streaming.
Why Pluto TV?
With a typical free streaming service, you get either live TV or on-demand movies and TV shows. Pluto TV offers you both, and they have quite a few channels and titles to keep you coming back.
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Paid streaming services get all the blockbuster titles and new releases, so many cord-cutters just ignore the free streaming services. There are also several sketchy or even illegal free streaming services, which make people wary even of legal and safe options like Pluto TV.
For those reasons, Pluto TV has had to go out of its way to stand out as a free service worth installing on your Fire TV. The app’s live channels often play titles like “Legally Blonde” and “The Godfather” that aren’t hard to find on cable but are often absent from standard streaming services. Pluto TV has also become the best service for James Bond junkies, with 20 on-demand Bond movies, many of which you won’t find on your other favorite streaming services.
fuboTV: The Best Fire TV App for Sports
It seems like every sport has its own streaming app now. For general sports fans, that can lead to a lot of chaos as you try to piece together the perfect sports package. FuboTV makes your life easier by offering a huge range of sports programming in one app.
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With a fuboTV subscription, you get NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAA football, and a whole lot more. They even have cycling and foreign sports like European soccer. You’ll still miss some network-exclusive events, but there’s always something exciting to watch on fuboTV.
One of the best things about fuboTV is that they know what features sports fans are looking for. That means everything is in HD, and they are increasing their 4K broadcast options. You also get a cloud DVR, so you never need to miss a game and can watch your favorite recordings anytime, anywhere.
Sling TV: Best for Live TV:
Want to stream live TV on your Fire TV? Then you’ll need a cable-like streaming service that offers lots of live TV networks for less than the cable and satellite giants charge. Here’s our favorite live TV option on Fire TV devices.
Why Sling TV?
If you’ve ever wanted to build your own live TV bundle, Sling TV heard you. With their streaming service, you start off with a skinny bundle, but you can add all kinds of extras until you have your perfect live TV streaming bundle
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Skinny bundles are a great entry point to live TV streaming, but many cord-cutters are going to want more. Sling TV is one of the most customizable streaming services you’ll find. If you’re content with one of their base skinny bundles, you’ll be saving quite a bit of money over other live TV services. They even include a free DVR.
The real value, though, comes in the customization. You can choose to add genre-specific extras such as news, sports, comedy, and lifestyle bundles. From there, Sling TV lets you choose between more than 30 premium channel add-ons like Showtime, Starz, and Noggin. Finally, you can add international or Latino channels to round out your customized bundle.
Plex: The Best Fire TV Media Server for Your Own Content
If you already own lots of great movies and TV shows in the form of digital files, then you can use your Fire TV to stream those files. All you’ll need is a good media server program like this one.
It would be great if you could play your old movies, TV shows, and other media files you have sitting around on your computer. With Plex, you can easily create your own personal streaming library and play it right on your Fire TV.
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Plex basically lets you create your own streaming service, populated with all of the media that you’ve collected over the years. The best part is just how easy that whole process is. Once you point Plex at your media library, it will take care of everything else. That even includes attaching subtitles and metadata (titles, cast, runtime, etc.) to each movie and TV episode.
That would be enough to earn Plex a spot on this list, but it’s really just the beginning. With the Plex app, you also get access to free, ad-supported streaming content from the likes of Crackle, BBC, and Lionsgate. If you have the right equipment, you can even use Plex’s paid tier to watch over-the-air (OTA) TV.
Kodi: The Best Fire TV App to Sideload
Not every app that works on Fire TV devices can be found in the Fire TV app store. By “jailbreaking” or “sideloading” your Fire TV device, you can add unsanctioned apps and expand the things that your Fire TV device can do. Here’s one app we think works best with sideloading.
Sideloading Fire TV apps can be an involved process. Kodi takes away a lot of the complications by providing safe, easy-to-install add-ons that take the place of many other sideloading apps.
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Sideloading Fire TV apps (more commonly known as jailbreaking) is a great way to bring even more functionality to your device, adding unsupported streaming services, games, and more. The only problems are finding safe, reliable apps and then figuring out how to install them.
Kodi is primarily a media center application. Courtesy of its hundreds of official add-ons, though, it can easily become a sideloading hub for your Fire TV. Some of these add-ons tweak Kodi itself, while others give you access to streaming content, games, productivity tools, and a whole lot more that isn’t available in the Fire TV app store. Unlike random sideloading apps you find on the web, all of Kodi’s official add-ons are thoroughly vetted to be safe and legal, and there is a huge user community that can assist if you ever need help tweaking your Kodi setup.
Disney Plus: The Best Fire TV App for Kids
Want to watch something with the family? This app is your best bet on Fire TV devices.
Why Disney Plus?
Disney has been making children’s content for nearly 100 years. With Disney Plus, they’ve now brought the vast majority of that content into a single streaming service, complete with all the franchises they’ve made or purchased over the years.
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Disney Plus has about 500 movies and 7,000 TV episodes at this point, including all of the classics that we watched as kids, cartoon series for all ages, and Pixar’s biggest hits, like “Toy Story” and “Monsters, Inc.”
Labeling Disney Plus a kids’ streaming service isn’t doing it justice. Marvel and Star Wars fans will find all of their favorites, including “The Mandalorian” and “Loki.” There are hours and hours of National Geographic documentaries. And, of course, Disney Plus has 32 seasons’ worth of “The Simpsons.”
Curiosity Stream: The Best Fire TV App for Educational TV
Fire TV devices can be very entertaining, but they can also teach you a thing or two — especially if you download apps like the one we chose below.
Why Curiosity Stream?
Curiousity Stream is an entire streaming service devoted to creating educational content. They are still new to the game, but they already have thousands of documentaries to choose from.
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Two major trends of the cord-cutting era have been genre-specific streaming services and a resurgence of documentaries. Curiousity Stream is where those two trends merge in a glorious union of educational bliss.
You’ll find content featuring the likes of Stephen Hawking, David Attenborough, and Deepak Chopra on this service. They even have documentaries narrated by Nick Offerman, Sigourney Weaver, and Queen Latifah. Along with the documentaries, there is an impressive number of docuseries, lectures, and even a few crash courses.
ExpressVPN: The Best Fire TV VPN App
Using a VPN to maintain your privacy online is a smart move. It can sometimes be tough to get a VPN working on a streaming device, but Fire TV users have some great options. Since Fire TV runs on a version of the Android operating system, it works better with VPNs than some other devices, such as Roku. You can find some great VPNs right in the Fire TV app store.
ExpressVPN offers the speed and security you need in a VPN. It’s also widely compatible with the most popular streaming services, which is a must for Fire TV users.
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Virtual private networks (VPNs) provide a layer of security and privacy to your internet connection. The best VPN apps, like ExpressVPN, operate quickly and seamlessly behind the scenes, so you can use them without worrying about compatibility issues or slowdowns that could harm your streaming experience.
The other reason streamers love VPNs is that they provide access to geo-restricted content from many of your favorite streaming services. ExpressVPN has servers in over 90 countries, so you can watch all kinds of movies and TV shows that Netflix, Disney Plus, and others can’t or won’t show in your home country. It’s like you’re buying a security update and content expansion pack for all of your other Fire TV apps.
Jackbox Party Pack 3: The Best Fire TV Game
Fire TV devices don’t just have streaming service apps. They can also play host to great games. The Fire TV app store has some really fun gaming apps; in fact, the selection puts competitors like Roku to shame. If you’re looking for a great introduction to gaming on Fire TV, check out this app.
Why Jackbox Party Pack 3?
Jackbox is the undisputed king of party games. You can play their games using your smartphones as controllers, and the learning curve for newcomers is virtually nonexistent.
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Most Fire TV apps are really fun only if you buy a controller, and they tend to be made for only one to two players. Jackbox Party Pack 3 is, as the name implies, a party game. You can play with up to eight players and even more participating audience members. The game connects to the player’s smartphones through a web app, so you don’t even need to ask your guests to install anything.
It was obvious that Jackbox was going to win this category, but picking which Jackbox game wasn’t easy. Each of their party packs has unique, fun games to play, but Jackbox Party Pack 3 is the pinnacle of party game entertainment. It gives you five games to choose from, including the classic word game “Quiplash 2.” This was also the pack that introduced “Trivia Murder Party,” a fun genre take on trivia games. The real star, though, is “Tee K.O.,” a game that has you coming up with slogans and trying to match them to hilariously quirky t-shirt designs.
Make the Best Even Better
We are living in the best of times for cord cutting. There was a time when the best streaming app was, well, the only streaming app. Now, I could list dozens of Fire TV streaming apps just off the top of my head. And that’s before we get into the games, productivity apps, utilities, and everything else in the Fire TV app store.
Most streaming services on Fire TV have a monthly subscription, and many of the best streaming services have free trials. That’s typically your easiest way to sample what’s out there. If you know exactly what you want, don’t be afraid to seek out a service that offers just that. There are several genre-specific streaming services now like Shudder for horror and Crunchyroll for anime. Those services are often cheaper and have more titles in that genre than more general services.
Most of us bought our Fire TVs with hopes of watching movies and TV shows, but don’t forget about the utility apps. You really should have a VPN to keep your device safe and your activity private. Other apps, like Kodi, will greatly enhance the potential of your Fire TV, but you can probably hold off on those if your current possibilities are already overwhelming. For now, just enjoy the next big Netflix or Hulu show while you think about the bright future you and Fire TV have together.