Streaming services have changed the rules of the television entertainment game. Television entertainment used to be the monopoly of big cable companies at one time. It is now slowly getting decentralized. Getting into a contract is not the only way to watch your favorite TV show anymore. Even television is not a prerequisite for it. All you need is a device with a screen and a high speed internet connection, and you will have everything – popular shows, news, movies, music, and so much more – right in your hands. Here are some of the best streaming services and what makes them worth your consideration. If you are someone who is looking to cut the cord, then these are your best bets.
No list about streaming services can be complete without a mention of Netflix. Why? Because it is not only a pioneer in the industry, but a frontrunner in sourcing some of the most desired content for its users. Netflix has grown over the years from a DVD rental service to what it is today – a giant with 80 million subscribers. They have developed a highly user-friendly interface that allows the users to navigate through the huge library of content on Netflix rather easily. If that is not enough, once you start using Netflix, you will start getting recommendations for what other shows or movies you should watch. This is a great way to watch some really good and new content. The movie library at Netflix is pretty awesome. You have some of the most recent movie titles and short feature films to choose from. The TV shows on Netflix are not really its strong suit, but it is a decent collection, where you will find complete seasons of many popular shows.
Apart from all the sourced content, Netflix has also started producing a lot of original content for its users. This has been a huge plus point, since they have aired some outstanding shows like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and Bloodline, among others. They have been loved by the audience and are highly critically acclaimed. Netflix has invested a lot of its money in creating more such shows. Such exclusive and high quality content has made the service even more desirable.
Netflix has been one of the most affordable streaming services around. However, the service has recently announced a hike in its subscription fee, which makes it a little costlier than other similar services. The standard Netflix package now costs the new users $9.99. This is the most popular package on Netflix that offers HD content streamed to two screens simultaneously.
Since Netflix is wildly popular and has been around for a long time now, many of the streaming devices come with a Netflix app. It can be easily accessed on smartphones, gaming consoles, smart TVs, and most other electronic devices. So, hardware compatibility will not be an issue at all when you subscribe to Netflix.
Amazon Prime Instant Video
Amazon Prime Instant Video is another popular service that has rather quickly made its presence felt in the world of streaming services. The Amazon branding does not hurt either. But, it is the high quality content and lots of it that brings in the subscribers.
First of all, subscribers get access to the huge library of Amazon Prime Instant Video, which the company has built through its relationships with big media companies. There is a good collection of television shows and movies. The users can watch a lot of original programming on this streaming service like All or Nothing, Mozart in the Jungle, and so on. However, these are not as popular as the original shows on Netflix.
One more important point to bear in mind is that there are many Amazon Prime benefits that this subscription comes with. These include Amazon 2-day shipping, access to free Kindle eBooks, free Amazon Music, and so on. These benefits definitely sweeten up the deal. The subscription to Amazon Prime Instant Video costs around $10.99 for a month. The annual subscription offers an even better value at $99 per year. So, if you are planning to stick to one subscription service, then the annual plan is definitely the way to go.
This is a streaming service from the Showtime Networks. The subscribers get unlimited access to Showtime’s programming, which includes movies, TV shows, comedy, sports, and so much more. You can enjoy all of this anytime you wish. Showtime airs hit TV shows like Homeland and Masters of Sex, which you can binge-watch. Apart from this, you will also be able to watch live TV, which means that all the content that is being aired on the Showtime channel on cable will be available to the online subscribers as well.
This streaming service is available for $10.99 per month. It can be accessed on all kinds of devices including laptop, tablets, gaming consoles, smart phones and TVs. Showtime is also available with Apple devices, media streamers like Roku, Chromecast, and Amazon Fire TV. If you want to get Showtime added to your existing Hulu subscription, then you can get it for only $9. It should be clear by now that this is not the same as Showtime Anytime streaming service. Showtime Anytime is a cable-based app, which means that you should be subscribed to a traditional cable provider to get it. On the other hand, this is a standalone app, and does not depend on any other subscription.
Cord cutters have always aimed for a service that offers them television programming as extensive as that of cable, along with the freedom of online streaming. This is a tall order to match, but streaming services are moving towards this ultimate destination. Sling TV is one of the services that comes very close to such expectations.
Sling TV offers a collection of over 20 live TV channels to its users. These include the likes of History, Food Network, Travel Channel, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, ABC Family, and more. Sling TV offers a lot of add-on packages for extra $5 each. These include Kids, Lifestyle, World News, Hollywood and Sports package. The sports programming on Sling TV is one of its most popular offerings by the streaming service. No other streaming service offers live sports channels. But, Sling TV offers ESPN and ESPN 2 as part of its core package. Then, there is the additional sports package that offers channels like SEC Network, ESPNews, Universal Sports, and others.
Sling TV is a subsidiary of Dish Network. However, you do not need to get a subscription to the cable network to get Sling TV. It is a standalone service that you can get for a $20 monthly subscription fee.
You just need to pay the subscription and then install the application on any device supported by the service. Sling TV can be streamed on any Android or iOS devices including phones, tablets and laptops. It can also be accessed using Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Xbox One.
This is a streaming service that rents and even sells movie titles to its users. VUDU is a video streaming service that does not work on the subscription-based model like Netflix. Users can choose movie titles to rent or buy in both standard and high definition. VUDU is not a new service. It has been around for quite a while now and is owned by the retail giant, Walmart. However, the service has not been as popular as Netflix.
VUDU has a lot to offer in terms of quantity and quality of movies. It also claims that it has the highest number of high definition movies, more than any other streaming services in the market. On one hand, you have Netflix, where you pay for the subscription once and you are done. You can watch most of the content at no additional charges. However, if you are a complete movie buff, then VUDU may cause you to stack up costs really fast. You will get latest content for rental much quicker than Netflix and it is also a good service to watch the most recent releases occasionally.
Most of the streaming services focus their attention on their movie library. It is rather easy to find a movie title with a streaming service than locating the latest episode of your favorite television show. Though Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video have a decent library of television shows, none come even close to that of Hulu Plus.
Hulu Plus is the best service for you, if you are more into TV shows than movies. You will find a huge selection of the latest shows. While other services update their libraries only a season or even a year after the show is released, Hulu Plus updates the episodes within a day or sometimes, hours after it has been aired on the cable. This is made possible because of the big-ticket co-owners of Hulu Plus that include Twenty First Century Fox, the Walt Disney Co., and NBC Universal Television Group. Hulu Plus also offers a movie library, but it is not as impressive as other major competitors like Netflix.
The service is available at a subscription fee of just $7.99. However, there are a lot of commercials in the content streamed on Hulu Plus. The company has recently floated an $11.99 per month package, which allows the subscribers to enjoy their content with only the bare minimum amount of ads.