If you want to watch Orange is the New Black, you have to have Netflix. If you want to watch The Handmaid’s Tale, you have to get Hulu, and if you want to watch Game of Thrones, you have to purchase the HBO add-on. With all of these different streaming options, it is a wonder that anyone can make up their mind when it comes to what service they should choose. To help our readers make up their minds, we have come up with this quick run-down of the different streaming services with all of the pros and cons.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you have surely heard of Netflix. This streaming service starts at $7.99 a month, which allows only one person on the account to stream at a time, but there are also upgradable options to allow up to 4 people to stream simultaneously. Netflix is ad-free, and also features original programs like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. The selection of TV shows and movies is good, and it is updated frequently. Netflix does not offer any options for live TV, or extras like HBO and Showtime; but it is available to stream from about anything with the capability to do so— from boxes like Roku and Apple TV, to game systems like Xbox One and Playstion 4, and there is even an app available for ios and android to stream your favorite shows directly to your mobile device.
The online retail giant offers a streaming service, but what does it bring to the table? If you’re interested in all of the perks of Amazon Prime, a full membership costs $99 a year (which includes Amazon video); but if you are only interested in the streaming service, there is an option to sign up for Amazon video for $8.99 a month (seems like you should just sing up for Prime.) . Amazon has a huge selection of movies and TV shows, and it is streamable from most platforms, but it does not quite have the availability that Netflix does. Amazon video does offer the option to upgrade to include networks like Showtime and Starz for a small fee, as well as premium pay-per-view content. Like Netflix, Amazon has original programming, but it is less popular, and generally not as well-received as some other streaming services’ original content. There is no option for live TV, but Amazon video is an ad-free service.
This streaming service has it all: from streaming, to live TV, to upgrade capabilities, Hulu is a couch potato’s best friend. A basic membership with limited ads is $7.99 a month, but there is always the premium, ad-free option for $11.99 a month. Hulu has a massive selection of movies and TV shows, many of which update their selection to include new shows as early as the day after the premier. HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax are offered as extras that members can subscribe to for an additional monthly fee. Hulu also offers live TV for $39.99 a month, a package that will get you more than 50 channels. Hulu’s live TV also has a cloud DVR function that allows you to record your favorite shows when they air. Hulu’s stream availability is just as great as Netflix, with apps on boxes, game systems, and mobile devices.
Sling is basically cable for a cheaper price and without all the wires. This service offers a library of content with a selection of packages for live channels. The basic Sling packages is $20/month, and has a selection of 28 channels. There are two other package options available for $25 (40 channels) and $40 (60 channels). Some channels have a fast forward/rewind feature, and some have 3D replay, which allows members to watch anything that has aired on that channel in the last 3 days. Add-ons for programs like HBO and Cinemax are available for an additional fee. One downside to Sling is the absence of a DVR feature, and this is not an ad-free service. However, Sling is one of the only streaming services to offer sports programming. Sling is available to stream from most platforms, but not all game systems.
More than just a gaming platform, Playstation offers this streaming service to TV fans everywhere. The basic membership starts at $39.99 a month for a library of content and 45 channels, but there are upgradable options for more channels. Aside from Sling, Playstation Vue is the only streaming service to offer sports programming. However, Playstation’s channel selection is larger, and there is a cloud DVR feature, something Sling lacks. However, members of Playstation Vue do have to watch ads. The streaming availability is very similar to Sling, as it is available from most platforms, but Playstation is the only game system.
Bounce’s Brown Sugar
This ad-free streaming service is for African-American movie lovers. For only $3.99 a month, this streaming service offers a large collection of movies, documentaries, and TV shows created by, or starring African Americans. Brown Sugar’s library also includes Bounce programming in its content. The availability to stream is somewhat limited, as it is only available to stream from Apple TV, IOS devices, Android devices, Amazon Fire, and Chromecast.
HBO, Showtime, and Starz
All of these channels are available for a standalone streaming subscription for varying prices. Apps are available on most devices.