In part 1 and part 2 of this series, we discussed things to consider before cutting the cable cord and satellite cord and what type of equipment you’ll need to buy (if any). If you haven’t read those articles yet, I’d suggest checking them out to get up to speed.
We talked about streaming devices and how they basically turn your TV into a a monitor for a tablet that runs various apps for services that offer content. I want to repeat that you don’t even need a television monitor to watch the programming. You can watch these services on your smartphone, tablet or PC. If you don’t care about watching on a larger screen or you don’t normally watch programs with other people, you could skip the television entirely.
Different streaming devices offer access to different services. The good news is that most of the popular streaming devices support apps for all the big-name services like NetFlix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.
Each of these streaming services offers a different lineup of programming. You will see some overlap of movies and TV shows that have already aired on broadcast and cable networks, but they also have their own lineups of original programming not available anywhere else.
So before you select a service, I’d suggest going to their website to see what they offer and how it meshes with your personal taste. Let’s take a look at some of the major players.
This is the king of streaming services right now. NetFlix customers account for about 1/3 of all Internet bandwidth use. They’ll let you try out the service free for a month. After that, you’ll pay $7.99 monthly for basic that allow you to only watch one screen at a time or $9.99 monthly for standard, which gives you HD programming and allows you to watch two screens at the same time. The Premium subscription gives you Ultra HD quality and allows you watch on up to 4 screens at the same time. All levels can be watched either on your TV, PC, phone or tablet. All offer unlimited viewing of the programming. The service can be cancelled at any time. There are no commercials on Netflix.
Netflix original shows include House of Cards, Marvel’s Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, Orange Is The News Black and Grace and Frankie. The service is so popular that there are several websites focused solely on the its content. Check out netflixlife to get an idea of the thousands of movies and shows available for viewing.
One big difference you’ll notice is that new TV seasons are released all at once. Instead of one episode a week of your favorite new show, NetFlix will release the entire season (usually 12 to 13 episodes) all at once. This leads to what’s known as “binge watching.” where you consume the entire TV season in one helping.
Netflix is available on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV and can be cast from Google Chromecast. You can also choose to subscribe and watch from your tablet, phone and PC.
Hulu offers both no commercial and limited commercial plans. The limited commercial plan runs $7.99 a month, while the no commercial plan costs $11.99 pr month. Both plans offer HD programming. For an additional $8.99 a month, you can add Showtime programming.
As with Netflix, you can watch on your PC, tablet, phone or TV. Hulu has an especially large lineup of TV show and offers next-day viewing of the current TV season. Click here to get a look at the recently added lineup of shows. They also feature a large library of movies and kids programming.
Like Netflix, they also offer a free trial. Though Hulu’s is only for a week. Hulu is available on Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and can be streamed via Chromecast.
In the next part of this series, I’ll look at more popular streaming services.