When your only TV and movie options were Netflix, cable, and Blockbuster, you didn’t have much choice in how you got your entertainment. Now, streaming services and apps mean that you can watch what you want from anywhere. The trick is figuring out which streaming service has the shows and movies you want when you want to watch them. How you prefer to watch informs which streaming service will fit best with your lifestyle so that you can make sure you pay only for what you want.
Netflix is one of the most popular streaming services for a reason. Their vast library of content and lots of new stuff every month attracts subscribers left and right. The basic plan costs $7.99 per month, which is a fantastic price for so much content. Netflix is perfect for TV show bingers, but it isn’t right for everyone. You have to wait a few months after the season finale of a TV show to stream the episodes. Movies appear and disappear seemingly without warning. Sometimes the size of the available library makes browsing overwhelming.
Hulu Plus offers the newest TV episodes, usually within a day of their airing. They have a host of great original shows, too, like The Path and 11.22.63. The service offers a limited commercial plan for $7.99 per month, or $11.99 per month for no-commercial streaming. Hulu Plus has a limited selection of movies; the service is geared toward people who like to watch TV.
Like Netflix and Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime has its own list of original content that you can stream with a subscription. Amazon Prime is a hybrid service: you pay $99 per year for Prime services, which extend beyond streaming to free shipping and e-book borrowing. Some TV and movie content is available to stream without an extra charge. Otherwise, you can rent movies or episodes for 24 hours, usually for only a few dollars. Because of Prime’s price tag, it’s the best investment only if you plan to use the other services as well.
For $29.99 per month you can subscribe to a PlayStation Vue account. You get major live channels like NBC, Cartoon Network, and Fox Sports. Several upgrades offer more extensive lists of channels. Check what’s available in your specific area, because content varies by region. Despite the name, a PlayStation Vue account doesn’t require you to have a PlayStation. You can stream on a smartphone like the LG G5 with the Android app. The LG G5’s 5.3-inch Quad HD display with daylight mode lets you enjoy movies anytime, anyplace. You can also stream via your computer. This service is great for people who want something similar to cable without paying cable’s high prices.
Movie fans who aren’t into subscription services will love Vudu. If you’ve ever browsed your streaming subscriptions and the web in frustration looking for a specific movie, you need a Vudu account. Vudu streams lots of movies the same day they’re released on DVD, and it has a selection of TV shows as well. Movies typically cost between $2 and $6 to rent for two days. Buy electronic copies of movies you can’t watch enough. Vudu recently released free streaming with ads for certain content, so you’ll be able to find free stuff to watch if you don’t mind ads.
Sling TV is another streaming service that allows you to watch live programming from your preferred device. For $20 per month you get 25 channels, including AMC, Comedy Central, and CNN. For $25 per month you get 45 channels, and for $40 per month you get all the channels Sling streams, which includes specialty channels like FreeForm and Disney. Sling is designed for people who like to watch programs that are best seen live, like sporting events and the news; if you’re into binge-streaming, it’s probably not the best service for you.
Streaming to your TV is no big deal. Plenty of sticks and devices, like Roku and Blu-ray players, connect to the internet and to the services you want. Otherwise, use these services to watch in bed or on your daily commute using your phone or tablet.