Streaming services have popped up like fast-food joints along a highway in recent years. Nearly everyone is now streaming movies and TV shows, instead of tuning into actual television. Now that there are dozens of streaming services out there, how can consumers choose a service that is “right” for them? It will involve doing some research before you dive in and pay $10 a month for a basic plan.
Read below for a list of best streaming services with relevant information on each service to make up your mind about which platform you want to pay for:
Netflix is what made streaming a thing. It's still the top streaming platform, even after some other streaming services have mushroomed. You can get access to tens of thousands of titles on the platform, in addition to original entertainment content aptly named Netflix Originals. Netflix is a seriously regarded channel now, with multiple awards for shows like "House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black.” The streaming platform also has an exclusive deal with Marvel TV. Netflix is the one-stop-shop to get your superhero fix with shows like “Daredevil” and “Luke Cage.”
Netflix subscriptions plans are highly affordable. The basic plan only costs $8 a month for standard definition video on a single screen. You can upgrade the plan to high-def with two screens for $10 a month. The most expensive plan available is $12 per month for ultra-HD or 4k video on up to four screens. All plans get access to Netflix’s vast library of movies, TV shows, and animated works. Netflix also works on some devices including computers, tablets, and gaming consoles.
Oh, and if you still want to rent Netflix DVDs as if it’s still 2010, that service is still available too. But you should be more excited about upcoming streaming content, like all seasons of Seinfeld which will now be available on Netflix instead of Crackle.
Hulu was once the to-go platform for free streaming content (with loads of ads). Hulu lost most of its ground to Netflix but is back again with a vengeance. Gone are the days of free streaming with ads. Now, Hulu has is making a Netflix-sized library available to all users for only $7.99 per month. The plan is broadly similar to what Netflix offers. But the main difference is the original content. Hulu is making original shows and movies to rival Netflix. Example, "The Handmaid's Tale," which recently won the Emmy for the best drama series, the first for any streaming platform.
Another reason to subscribe to Hulu is that TV shows that still air on actual TV becomes almost immediately available on Hulu mostly thanks to the platform partnering up with networks. You can watch an episode that has aired on TV as soon as 24 hours later. There’s no major delay.
Hulu’s basic plan still includes a limited number of ads. But there’s an ad-free version for $12 a month. There’s a new Hulu package that includes live TV, which will be very useful if you want to watch live sports events. Hulu is supported on some devices, so you can, say, look at the latest NFL game on your smartphone on your way to Poland. Consumer Reports recently gave Hulu “Editors' Choice for live streaming TV services” accolade.
Let’s face it: the main reason to subscribe to HBO Now is “Game of Thrones.” If you are addicted to the show, like most people are, HBO Now is the only online streaming platform where you can watch all episodes of the megahit so far. HBO Now is also a great option when you don’t want to be burdened with the HBO cable package, which can be quite pricey. You may be familiar with HBO GO, the app, that allows some online streaming of content. But GO requires having a pay-TV login, while Now is available for people without TVs.
HBO Now is also the very first online streaming version of a premium cable channel. You can get access to HBO’s many non-Game of Thrones content like original movies, documentaries and other addictive TV shows like “Veep,” “Silicone Valley,” and “Westworld” here. You can get access to new episodes an hour or less than they appear on the live TV channel.
There’s only one HBO Now plan for $15 per month. You can sign up for a free trial via Google Play, App Store, or Amazon. HBO Now is not available on handheld devices like your smartphone, because that's what the HBO GO app is for. But HBO Now can be found on multiple smart TVs and gaming consoles like Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, Samsung TV, Microsoft Xbox, and PlayStation Vue.
Amazon continues its foray into all things online with Amazon Video, which costs $8.99 per month. This is only if you buy Amazon Video exclusively. It is also available with Prime packages, but that will cost you more. If you just want streaming video, Amazon Video is still a great option. The platform boasts over 40,000 titles of movies, TV shows, and animated video. Do note that some content available on Amazon video is not available via Prime.
One big reason to subscribe to Amazon Video is that you can add channels like Nickelodeon, MTV, and Comedy Central without an extra charge, mostly thanks to an exclusive partnership with Viacom. Amazon Video has more teen and kid-friendly content than other platforms, which are mainly geared towards adults. If you are looking for a family streaming platform, then Amazon Video is the top option. That's not to say there's no content for adults. Amazon produces its originals, like the acclaimed show "Transparent,” and binge-worthy shows like “Alpha House” and “Mozart in the Jungle” that you can watch on the weekends.
Probably one of the most popular premium channels alongside HBO, Showtime now has its streaming platform. If you love Showtime shows like "Dexter," "Homeland," "Billions,” and “The Affair,” Showtime is the only streaming platform that you can watch new and old episodes online. Essentially, you can pay for the premium cable network without spending unnecessary amounts of money on a cable package.
The streaming package only costs $11 per month. The price is down to $9 per month when you pay for the channel through other services like Hulu and Amazon Prime. (Note that Showtime is available on other streaming networks only with an extra subscription.) Showtime works on computers, smartphones, tablets, and several other devices as well. You will get access to all new shows, like the recent “Twin Peaks” revival. Showtime’s award-winning films and documentaries are also available unrestricted on the streaming network.
Sling TV from the Dish Network is an excellent way to get cable TV without the cable part. It's slightly more expensive than most streaming networks, but that's only because there are loads of cable channels included. With Sling, you don't get individual shows or movies; you get access to whole channels. So there's more content you can uncover. The basic package costs $20 per month and includes some cable channels like the Food Network, TBS, and A&E. No broadcast channels are available yet, unfortunately.
Sling TV is a great deal for sports fans because you can add ESPN without a TV subscription. ESPN has been getting more expensive in recent times so Sling is one of the few places where you can stream the channel without paying too much. Sling also allows add-on premium channels like HBO for an extra fee. Sling TV has a widely available cloud DVR version that lets you stream content from a browser like Google Chrome. So there’s no need to download software or apps. Sling TV is available on mobile devices and smart TVs too for those who want such.
This is one of the best gaming console packages. If you are a gamer who also likes watching TV a lot, then this package would be a great deal. If you are not a gamer, it may be a bit too expensive. The Vue packages start from $40 a month and can go up to $75 a month. Like Sling, these packages add channels instead of individual shows. The most expensive package includes whopping 90 channels. Now imagine paying for all that on a cable TV package.
Vue also includes many local channels in regional markets. You can also get plenty of on-demand content. Vue is the closest that comes to a traditional TV programming-style streaming package. Vue is also adding broadcast channels not available on other platforms like ABC, Spike, and NBC.
The above listed are some of the best streaming services that are available today. Most are affordable. But if you are looking to for more traditional-style TV programming, there are streaming versions of that too. Do be on the lookout for new additions because streaming platforms are always adding new things to outperform one another. You can always subscribe to more than one to get access to nearly unlimited amounts of content.
BACK TO NEWS