The Best Video Streaming Services of 2. Which Video Streaming Service Is Right for You? Streaming services started as an add- on to DVD and digital download offerings with a trickle of second- run movies and TV shows. But speedier internet connections, an abundance of dedicated streaming video devices, and an explosion of mobile video has allowed services like Netflix and Amazon to bulk up streaming libraries, invest millions in original content, and give traditional pay TV providers a run for their money. Telecom giants are not blind to the threat; Comcast has its standalone Comcast Stream service and Watchable online TV app, Verizon has go. AT& T has Direc.
TV Now. This comes as networks that were once only available with a pay TV subscription—HBO, Showtime, and Starz—introduce only- online alternatives. Differentiation is the name of the game when it comes to streaming success. Netflix is the leader in original programming, from the addictive and award- winning House of Cards to the binge hit Stranger Things. But Amazon is catching up with shows like Transparent, Man in the High Castle, and Mozart in the Jungle.
Both have also saved previously dead broadcast shows, as has Hulu, which picked up The Mindy Project. Amazon went one step further in taking on Netflix last year by offering Prime Video as a standalone service for $8. It's an especially canny move for Amazon because longtime Netflix customers had their $7. Smaller and sometimes cheaper options abound. Crackle, for example, is still a reliable spot to find a movie or TV show to watch, particularly since content is refreshed weekly.
Mubi also has an avid fan base of film buffs who are disappointed by the selection on rival services. There are also niche options, like these anime- streaming sites. But if you want to cut the cord, these are the most popular services.
Which one is best for you? Here's our rundown of what you can expect from each.
Netflix (from $7. Netflix is the standard- bearer of streaming. There's a solid selection at all times, with new titles exchanged for older ones monthly.
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And there's Netflix original programming to take into account, too. It's the only place to get your fix of shows like Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, and Luke Cage. The $7. 9. 9- per- month plan is for one standard- definition stream. For two concurrent HD streams (two people watching from the same account at the same time), it's now $9.
For $1. 1. 9. 9, you can get up to four concurrent streams and support for 4. K content. Netflix is available on a variety of devices, from your PC and tablet to the Chromecast and game consoles. And you can now download content for offline viewing. The company's DVD service still exists if you want newer releases, but Netflix has long said that streaming is its primary focus going forward.(Available on Android, i. OS, and Web)Amazon Video (from $8.
Standalone Amazon Video will set you back $8. Amazon Prime, which includes Amazon Video—not to mention Amazon Photos, Amazon Music, and a number of other Amazon- centric perks—for $9. Amazon has about 4. Prime streaming. Look for the . Everything else is available to purchase or rent (for Prime and non- Prime members). Amazon also enables offline downloads, so if you haven't finished watching Transparent or want to catch up on some older HBO shows for your next flight, just download to your tablet and get watching. In 2. 01. 5, Amazon also launched the Streaming Partners Program, which lets you add networks like Showtime and Starz to your Prime account for a slight discount (save $2 per month on Showtime via Amazon vs.
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At WWDC, Apple announced it will soon arrive on Apple TV, too. Prime Video supports two concurrent streams, as long as you're watching different videos.(Available on Android, i. OS, and Web)Hulu (from $7. Hulu has done away with its free, ad- supported tier. For full seasons of current and classic TV series, as well as original content, you'll have to subscribe for $7. Unlike Netflix and Amazon, which typically get new TV series months or even a year after their TV debuts, Hulu gets content almost immediately after airing on TV thanks to its big studio backers.
One of the drawbacks, however, is that Hulu still includes ads. An ad- free tier costs $1.
If you're on the fence, you can get Showtime for $8. Hulu bundle and save $2 per month. You can also add HBO or Showtime to your Hulu account for $1. Hulu is supported on a number of gadgets, but you can only stream to one device at a time. You can't yet download content for offline viewing, though that is reportedly in the works. Hulu recently released a live TV option, named simply Hulu With Live TV.
It starts at $3. 9. Editors' Choice for live streaming TV services. Watch on two screens simultaneously or upgrade to unlimited streams for another $1. Available on Android, i. OS, and Web)HBO Now (from $1.
The first major premium channel to go out on its own was HBO. The network's content has been available online for awhile via HBO GO, but that requires a pay TV login to watch. For several years, HBO didn't want to rock the boat with its cable partners, but it eventually acquiesced to fans' demands and released an online- only version, dubbed HBO Now, for $1. Sign up and get a free trial via apps from Amazon, Google Play, and the App Store, or add the HBO Now channel to your Roku player. Those with internet service from Frontier, Google Fiber, Liberty, Optimum, Service Electric, and Verizon can also add HBO Now to their web package.
Once you're signed up, you can watch on your PC and other devices. New episodes appear several minutes to an hour after they begin on live TV, and everything on HBO GO is also on HBO Now.(Available on Android, i. OS, and Web)Sling TV (from $2. Sling TV is probably as close to the traditional TV experience as you can get online. For $2. 0 per month, Sling TV offers live access to channels like AMC, TBS, The Food Network, CNN, TNT, and more.
As you add more services, though, Sling TV can add up. There's the basic Sling Orange plan with support for one stream at $2. Sling Blue with support for three simultaneous streams for $2. Why would you want both? Some channels on Sling Orange are not available on Sling Blue and vice versa (here's a breakdown). The Disney Channel, for example, is only on Sling Orange, while Fox Sports is only on Blue.
Sling also offers extra add- ons for $5 per month each. A Comedy extra adds MTV, Spike, Logo, and more, while a Kids extra offers channels like Teen Nick and Disney Junior—none of which are available via Sling Orange or Blue. Another $5 extra is cloud DVR, which supports up to 5.
You can record multiple programs simultaneously and watch on Amazon, Android, Apple TV, Roku, and Xbox One devices. Cloud DVR is not currently supported for Disney and ESPN or on- demand channels like Newsy and Local Now. Direc. TV Now (from $3. The Direc. TV Now streaming service offers dozens of channels of live TV without installing a satellite dish or running cables.
The service features excellent picture quality and plenty of connectivity options, and subscriptions start at $3. You won't find DVR or rewind features, but you can get premium channels like HBO for just $5 extra per month. There four plan tiers: Live a Little, Just Right, Go Big, and Gotta Have It. Live a Little offers more than 6. Just Right is $5. Go Big costs $6. 0 per month, but is available at a promotional price of $3. Direc. TV Now's opening months, and brings the total number of channels past 1.
BBC World News, Discovery Family, Logo, Oxygen, Sprout, and Sundance TV. The $7. 0 monthly Gotta Have It package gives you more than 1. Boomerang, Chiller, El Rey, Univision Deportes, and eight Starz channels. You can add HBO or Cinemax to any package for $5 each, which includes all live HBO or Cinemax channels and access to the respective networks' on- demand library. Local affiliates include ABC, Fox, and NBC, and their availability depends on your location. CBS and The CW, meanwhile, aren't available on the service.
Play. Station Vue (from $3. If you're a Play. Station fan who's cutting the cord, Sony's Play. Station Vue live- streaming service is a good way to ditch your cable company while keeping plenty of channels. Plans start at $3. TV with 4. 5+ channels, including Disney and ESPN. Add sports, movie, and premium packages and prices will range from $4.
PS Vue started in only a few markets, but went national last year. Channel availability varies by market, though, so check your location before signing up. DVR and on- demand content can be watched inside or outside the home, except CBS shows, which are only accessible inside the home.
The service supports up to five streams at once, but there are exceptions, like only one PS4 or PS3 can stream at a given time (you can't stream from a PS4 in the living room and the bedroom at the same time) and only three streams at once on mobile devices. You can watch on a variety of devices, like your web browser, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Chromecast, and i. OS or Android devices—provided you have internet access. You. Tube TV (from $3. You. Tube TV also provides live TV streaming, but it's thus far limited to Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area. If you live in one of those cities, though, you get unlimited cloud DVR storage. You. Tube will keep your recordings for nine months, and you can stream your content from anywhere in the US, if you're connected to the internet (and you sign in from a home network once every three months to verify your location).
One You. Tube TV membership supports up to six accounts, so you can share with family or roommates, though you can only stream from three accounts at once. Showtime (from $1.
In 2. 01. 5, premium service Showtime went solo with a streaming service of the same name. It's hoping the popularity of hits like Billions, Homeland, and The Affair will persuade fans to pay $1. For now, you can sign up on Amazon, Android, or Apple devices (i.