After many years of flipping through hundreds of never-watched channels, you decided to pull the cable or shut down your satellite dish in order to save money. Now the decision is whether or not you should invest in a video streaming subscription. Since more and more households are turning to these services and away from the standard-bearers of cable and satellite that kept us enthralled for so many decades, your friends are probably trying to make the same decisions at the same time. To help everyone finalize their choice, here’s a breakdown of four video streaming services.
Subscription: $7.99 per month; free one month trial
Pros: With over 60,000 titles, Netflix is the current king of video streaming. In addition to a wide variety of new and classic films, the service offers subscribers a chance to view entire season runs of their favorite television shows. The Instant Queue option permits users to save numerous titles for retrieval rather than constantly performing searches. In addition to television-based shows, Netflix is one of the leaders in original programming. Their first made-for-Netflix drama, House of Cards, premiered at the beginning of 2013 while their resurrection of the comedy Arrested Development premieres this summer.
Cons: Though they do have complete runs of ongoing television series, they don’t offer current first-run airings. In other words, you have to wait until the season is over before it appears on Netflix. Another disadvantage is not all 60,000 titles are available at once and there can be a huge gap of time between its disappearance and return to the streaming queue.
Subscription: $7.99 a month; free one week trial
Pros: Because it was originally a joint venture between Disney, NBC, and ABC, subscribers to Hulu Plus can see first run episodes from these network families a day or so after they air on television. And because these are global corporations, there are many more international options when it comes to television series and movies. Hulu Plus also offers its subscribers an option to save individual episodes or whole series in a video queue for easier retrieval.
Cons: Commercials. Where Netflix offers ad-free television episodes, Hulu Plus inserts limited commercial interruptions in the places where ads would normally be placed during their on-air runs. This may turn off some people who feel they shouldn’t need to watch ads if part of a subscriber service.
Subscription: $79 a year/one month free trial
Pros: Fairly new to the video streaming market, Amazon Prime offers its subscribers television shows and videos for all members of the family. Like its competition, the service has inked exclusive content deals with networks like A&E and PBS. In addition to what premiered on the big and small screens, Amazon Prime has delved into the world of original programming with 14 pilots created to be voted upon by their subscribers.
Cons: The annual $79 subscription fee needs to be paid at once – there are no installment plans like in Netflix and Hulu Plus. In addition, many of the television shows and movies they offer can be seen on the other video streaming services.