Table of Content
2. Amazon Instant Video
3. Hulu Plus
4. Sling TV
5. PlayStation Vue
6. HBO Now
10. Google Play
15. DIRECTV Now
Which is the Best TV Streaming Service for You?
Last updated: April 2nd, 2017. The success of streaming services has turned the entertainment industry upside down. There was a time when people had no other option for television entertainment other than cable or satellite TV. Today, cable and satellite services do not enjoy that monopoly, nor does a TV set as the primary source of entertainment. Even within the space of online streaming services, there are a lot of players that have made the market highly competitive and have ensured that the service providers keep their offerings affordably priced.
Every player in the market has their own unique selling point. So price alone cannot be used to decide which service offers the best value. You should look at the content offered, how frequently content is updated, the size of the content library, and consider other factors as well. You should also take care of the hardware compatibility of the service being offered and how much extra cost that means to you. Here is a compilation of all the top services in the industry that will offer online streaming. Make sure that you compare the TV streaming services offered and and figure out exactly what you are paying for, so that you are not in for any surprises. This page will be updated periodically to review newer streaming services like VIDGO. We recently added a section for DIRECTV Now!
Here is a comparison of the best TV streaming services:
|Streaming Service||Pricing||Supported Devices||Features|
|1. Netflix||Starts at $7.99 per month||iOS, Android, Windows, set-top boxes, most smart TVs, Tivo, most gaming consoles||Excellent on-demand movie and TV show library, with exclusive and original content. All you need is an internet connection.|
|2. Amazon Instant Video||$10.99 per month, $99 per year||iOS, Android, Windows, set-top boxes, most smart TVs, Tivo, most gaming consoles||Great on-demand television and movie library on the web, with some original content.|
|3. Hulu and Hulu Plus||Starts at $7.99 per month||iOS, Android, Windows, set-top boxes, most smart TVs, Tivo, most gaming consoles||Incredible selection of TV shows; soon will add live television service.|
|4. Sling TV||Starts at $20 per month||iOS, Android, Windows, set-top boxes, most smart TVs||Features on-demand content and is currently the best live TV service, in comparison to cable television.|
|5. PlayStation Vue||Starts at $29.99 per month||iOS, Android, Windows, Roku, Sony smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV, Sony gaming consoles||Some on-demand content and a live TV section.|
|6. HBO Now||$14.99 per month||iOS, Android, most set-top boxes, most smart TVs, newer XBOX consoles||Vast library of HBO-original programming.|
|7. Showtime||$10.99 per month||iOS, Android, most set-top boxes, most smart TVs||Extensive library of original content broadcasted on Showtime.|
|8. Starz||$8.99 per month||Android, iOS, and web||Excellent original Starz content, in addition to movies and TV on demand.|
|9. iTunes||Prices vary on movie or TV popularity/release date||iOS and PC||Limitless movie, TV, and music library, but no original content like Netflix or Hulu. The app is automatically downloaded onto all iPhones.|
|10. Google Play||Prices vary on movie or TV popularity/release date||Set-top boxes, smart TVs, gaming consoles that run on Android, PC, Mac, iOS||Average media library, with some on-demand options; no original content. The app is supported on all Android devices.|
|11. YouTube||Lots of free content; other content prices vary on popularity/release date||iOS, Android, Windows, set-top boxes, most smart TVs, Tivo, most gaming consoles||Tons of free, original media from online users; great movie catalog for new releases.|
|12. VUDU||Prices vary on movie or TV popularity/release date||iOS, Android, Windows, set-top boxes, most smart TVs, most gaming consoles||Offers excellent on-demand content and a wide library of films.|
|13. FandangoNOW||Prices vary on movie or TV popularity/release date||iOS, Android, Mac, PC, set-top boxes, most smart TVs, most gaming consoles||Features a video on-demand library; a great streaming service for new releases.|
|14. Cinema Now||Prices vary on movie or TV popularity/release date||iOS, Android, Mac, PC, set-top boxes, most smart TVs, most gaming consoles||Not the best library of entertainment compared to other services, but does offer on-demand streaming.|
|15. DIRECTV Now||$35 per month||Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Chromecast, Apple TV, iOS, and Android||Live TV streaming service with over 100 channels. Just starting out, and has a few bugs.|
1. Netflix Review
If you have ever done a simple Google search on streaming services, or if you have not been living under a rock for the past decade, then it is impossible that you have not heard of Netflix. This service is wildly popular among people of all ages and groups. They have also made it a part of the popular culture now by coining the term ‘Netflix & Chill’.
So why is Netflix so popular with the masses? Well, Netflix is one of the first services to become a part of the streaming phenomenon. What started as a DVD mailing service transformed into this streaming giant that it is today.
Netflix offers an extensive library for you to enjoy. It brings a lot of latest movies to its subscribers to enjoy. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was available for streaming on Netflix before appearing on any other service. However, old titles are removed pretty quickly to add the new ones. So, if you see something that you want to watch, do not wait for the right moment. There are plenty of classic TV shows in the Netflix library too. You can stream complete seasons and binge watch, which has become kind of a trend now. However, if you are looking for new episodes of TV shows currently on air, you will be disappointed. However, the streaming service more than makes up for it by offering high quality original programming. These include highly acclaimed series like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Arrested Development, and more.
Pricing and Packages:
- Basic: At $7.99, Netflix offers its subscribers SD videos and movies that can be streamed on a single device.
- Standard: This is one of the most popular options as it allows two people to stream simultaneously in HD quality. The subscription fee is $9.99
- Premium: The highest plan on offer by Netflix costs $11.99 and allows 4 people to stream content simultaneously in HD and UHD.
People can easily switch between plans by logging into their account and going to ‘Change Plan’.
Since Netflix has been around for a long time and has amassed quite a reputation, most entertainment devices that can be connected to the internet can be used to access Netflix. This includes everything from mobile devices supported by iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Nook, and Kindle Fire, set-top boxes like Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Tivo, and gaming consoles (PS3, Xbox, and Wii), and so on.
You do not have to worry about hardware compatibility. Plus, you can get a really good selection of movies at your disposal. The original programming is also pretty awesome. The subscription fee is also one of the lowest in the industry and the user interface is highly optimized.
The collection of TV shows is not as great as the movie library.
Netflix is a great streaming service that offers great content at an affordable price. This service is a complete package.
2. Amazon Instant Video Review
This is the service that is backed by the online retail giant, Amazon. Amazon Prime Instant Video comes with a lot of offerings for its users, which are quite similar to Netflix. There are many movie titles, but relatively less TV shows. This service has actually built its extensive library in a short time by forging relationships with big players like CBS Corp, Viacom, Warner Bros., Sony Corp, News Corp’s Fox, Comcast Corp’s NBC Universal and Walt Disney Co. These partnerships have allowed it to get high quality content in large quantity. However, the latest movies and episodes of current shows will require you to pay additional charges for viewing, even with a Prime subscription.
Pricing and Packages:
- Annual: Only a while ago, this was the only package offered by Amazon. At $99 (or $8.25 per month), you get access to all the content in the library of Amazon Prime Instant Video. You also get a lot of freebies like free monthly Kindle subscription, free 2-day Amazon shipping, access to Amazon Music, and more.
- Monthly: This pack is a little pricier at $10.99, and offers the exact same features as the annual pack.
Supporting Platforms & Devices
It is available on iOS, Android and Windows platforms. The devices that can stream Amazon Prime Instant Video are most smart TVs, smartphones, and tablets. It works well with Roku, Kindle Fire HD, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Wii U and Wii, PlayStation 3 & 4, and more.
Amazon has some amazing content on offer, which makes it a rather complete streaming service. An important feature that Amazon has added is that it allows offline viewing, which is not available with Netflix. The service is also working with its partners to offer 4K Ultra HD content.
It is more expensive than comparable service. It also offers original programming, but it is not as well-received and popular as that of Netflix.
Amazon has a lot of exclusive content that its arch-rivals Netflix and Hulu Plus cannot boast of. The freebies also offer good savings, especially if you are a frequent online shopper. The premium content is pay-per-view, which may make the costs stack up, especially if you are a binge watcher. So, take your pick.
3. Hulu Plus Review
Hulu was one of the first video platforms that enabled viewers to watch their favorite TV shows online. Hulu Plus is the streaming TV and movie service offered by Hulu for a low monthly subscription rate. In early 2017, Hulu plans to introduce a new live streaming TV service known as Hulu Live.
Hulu’s major competitive advantage against other streaming services is its ability to offer the largest collection of current season TV shows. Moreover, unlike other streaming services that also provides TV shows, Hulu updates its shows regularly. Almost every single episode is available the next day after originally appearing on broadcast or cable TV.
These are just some of the leading TV networks that provide content to Hulu:
- Comedy Central
- Cartoon Network
However, Hulu’s online movie library simply can’t compare to TV streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video.
To compensate for this, Hulu has begun producing original content, referred to as Hulu Originals:
- The Mindy Project
- Shut Eye
- The Path
Pricing and Packages
There are two primary subscription tiers for Hulu Plus:
- $7.99 per month (limited commercial breaks)
- $11.99 per month (no commercials)
Hulu is delivered through the following set-top boxes:
- Apple TV
- XBox One
- XBox 360
If you’re only planning on watching Hulu on mobile devices or your laptop, then there’s no need for a set-top box.
Pros and Cons of Hulu Plus
It’s hard to ignore Hulu’s amazing selection of current season TV shows. Just about every single TV show that you’d expect to watch on broadcast or cable TV is available on Hulu. The service is also relatively low-priced and boasts a modest amount of original programming as well as some movies in its archives. However, many $7.99 subscribers point to the annoying presence of too many commercials. In addition, there’s just not enough movie content to satisfy true movie lovers.
Hulu Live is a live TV streaming option set to debut in early 2017. Hulu Live will compete with the likes of DirecTV Now, Sling TV and PlayStation Vue. In addition to all the amazing TV content that you can access via Hulu Plus, you can now get live sports, live entertainment and breaking news. Heading into 2017, Hulu Live continues to line up new content partners. These now include Time Warner, Fox, and Disney/ABC. In addition, there’s talk that Hulu Live will soon sign a partnership with NBC Universal.
Pricing of Hulu Live
A monthly rate of $40 has been rumored to be the entry-level price point. For that price, viewers would also get access to everything they would get with Hulu Plus.
Extras included with Hulu Live
Hulu Live extras include the ability to have two simultaneous streams per household. In addition, Hulu Live could provide limited cloud-based DVR storage. Finally, the company is promising a best-in-class user interface (“The Hulu Interactive Experience”) that will make it easier to find content to watch on TV.
4. Sling TV Review
Sling TV launched with much pomp and show at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in 2015. The service has ushered in a new era, where a streaming service is no longer only a content library, but a place where users can also watch live television. Sling TV offers both video-on-demand and live programming for its users. There are lots of live channels and the best part is that Sling TV users will also be able to get ESPN and ESPN 2. This is definitely something to rejoice about for the sports lovers, as no other streaming service offered sports programming before Sling TV arrived. The service offers niche programming with extra packages for sports, kids’ programming, news, and so on.
For some channels, it is possible to pause, fast forward or rewind the content. It also offers 3D-replay for selected channels, where users can watch any show that aired on the channel in the past three days.
Pricing and Packages
- Sling Orange
For $20, this is the lowest plan available with Sling TV and offers 28 channels including ESPN, CNN, Comedy Central, History, Disney, Food Network and so on. On-demand content can also be accessed with this pack.
- Sling Blue
For $25, this plan offers a little over 40 channels to the subscribers. This package does not include ESPN channels, but has a lot of Fox programming like Fox Sports Network, FOX, and more. It also offers NBC, Cartoon Network, History, Travel Channel, Food Network, BBC, and so on.
- Sling Orange+Blue
For $40, as the name suggests, the plan brings together all the programming of the Orange and the Blue packages, with the total channel count coming to around 60.
Apart from these plans, users can also add extra packages. There is a Kids Extra, Sports Extra, Comedy Plus Extra, Lifestyle Plus Extra, Hollywood Extra, World News Extra, Broadcast Extra, and Best of Spanish TV packs for $5 per month. Then, you can also add the Cinemax live stream at a monthly fee of $10, and HBO for $15 per month.
Sling TV is supported on iOS and Android-supported phones, tablets and laptops. The service can be accessed through a Smart TV, PC and Mac. Sling TV is currently available for many streaming players, including Amazon Fire TV and Stick, Roku Streaming Stick and all Roku players.
Sling TV is basically a cable connection without any cords and much cheaper. The service enables its users to watch their favorite programming without any delay. You watch at the same time that it airs. Plus, it offers sports programming, which is not available with any other streaming service except PlayStation Vue. It offers lots of on-demand videos and some really cool features.
The selection of channels is pretty limited, especially for the low priced packages. For a streaming service, it is on the expensive end of the spectrum. Moreover, the service does not offer DVR functionality.
Sling TV is a revolutionary concept. It is the final frontier for cord cutters where they can enjoy live programming with the flexibility of a streaming service, offered at an affordable price.
5. PlayStation Vue Review
As the name clearly reveals, this streaming service is from the house of Sony. This service streams everything – movies, sports and live TV on a variety of devices. This service is pretty much a cable connection without a contract and credit check, and is available at similar prices as well. However, the service does offer an impressive selection of channels and on-demand content. These include CBS, Disney-ABC, NBC Universal, Viacom, CNN, ESPN, Food Network, Fox Business, Travel Channel, VH1, and many more. There are many local live channels on offer too. PlayStation Vue offers a lot of sports programming,g including national channels and local sports channels.
Pricing and Packages
Access Slim: 55+ channels for $29.99/month (live TV, sports and movies)
Core Slim: 70+ channels for $34.99/month (more sports programming)
Elite Slim: 100+ channels for $44.99/month (more movies and other entertainment channels)
- Select Cities (San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Miami)
Access: 60+ channels for $39.99/month (movies, TV, and sports channels)
Core: 75+ channels for $40/month (More channels and local sports programs)
Elite: 100+ channels for $45/month (More content from Machinima &Epix Hits)
The service is available for streaming on Sony consoles and smart TVs. PlayStation Vue can also be accessed via Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast along with iOS and Android-supported smartphones and tablets.
The sheer breadth of content offered by Sony is pretty amazing. It also offers cloud DVR functionality that is a great addition. Live TV without any contracts is a huge plus and the ‘Slim’ packages introduced by the company are highly competitive.
It is quite an expensive service. The markets in which it was initially rolled out, the higher packages were priced close to a cable connection.
PlayStation Vue is definitely the most expensive streaming service around, but considering the content that it offers, it’s more comparable to a cable connection than a regular online streaming service. In that context, it is a great option for cord cutters, who were waiting for live TV without contracts and wanted more extensive sports programming.
6. HBO Now Review
HBO was already acclaimed for its high level of original programming, including iconic shows like “The Sopranos” and “Game of Thrones.” Its new standalone streaming-only content service, HBO Now, is a way for people to watch that content without having cable or satellite TV service. As long as you can access the Internet, such as via a Wi-Fi connection, you can access HBO Now. In fact, the slogan of HBO Now is “All you need is the Internet to get HBO.” For fans of HBO content, of course, this is an amazing offer, since they can now watch their favorite shows on just about any screen or on their TV via a third-party set-top box or gaming console.
Once you subscribe to HBO Now, you get access to all the exclusive programs of HBO, including live premieres and movies. Moreover, shows are updated within an hour of being aired on cable, so there’s no lag or delay. And, even if you don’t want to watch HBO’s new shows, you still have access to a very extensive archive of movies, documentaries, sports programs and specials. These are just some of HBO’s most famous series:
- Game of Thrones
- The Sopranos
- The Wire
- Boardwalk Empire
- Six Feet Under
- True Blood
- Sex and the City
- Curb Your Enthusiasm
The current monthly rate for HBO Now is $14.99
Once you download the HBO Now app, you can stream content to your iOS or Android devices. HBO Now is also available for Amazon Fire tablets, Amazon Fire TV stick, Chromecast, Sony Playstation (PS3 and PS4), XBox One, and XBox 360. In addition, you can access HBO Now through any of the following set-top boxes: Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV or Roku. Best of all, you can watch across an unlimited number of supported devices.
The major allure of HBO Now, of course, is the premium content. If the major reason why you signed up for cable was to get access to HBO, you now have a way to get your HBO content without paying for all the extras. Plus, HBO Now is easy to access on mobile devices or simply via HBONow.com.
Unless you’re an HBO fan, you probably won’t sign up for HBO Now. And, even if you’re a huge HBO fan, the monthly rate of $14.99 is still relatively expensive for just a single network, no matter how good the quality is.
If you want to watch HBO’s premium content, this is a simple way to do so without signing up for cable TV. If you enjoy HBO, this is a must-have service.
7. Showtime Review
Showtime is another streaming service from a premium channel, Showtime. The channel has hosted popular shows like Homeland, Dexter, and Masters of Sex, among others. There are a lot of movies and sports programming on offer as well. Showtime is one of the popular channels on cable and its programming is not easily available with other streaming services. The shows that air on the channels are updated on the app pretty quickly. So, if you are a fan of the Showtime programming, then this is a great way to access it.
Pricing and Packages
- The monthly subscription fee for the service clocks in at $10.99.
Supporting Platforms & Devices
The service can be accessed through Apple TV, Roku devices, Amazon Fire TV devices, Nexus Player and Chromecast. Its content can also be streamed on iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, second generation Amazon Fire Tablets, and Android-supported devices.
Showtime offers some really good television entertainment and you will be able to access it all with this app.
Like any other standalone streaming service of a channel, it offers limited programming. The monthly pricing of $10.99 can be considered a little pricey, when you can subscribe to other streaming services to get more content from other channels.
You can subscribe to Showtime as a supplement to your primary streaming service, but it is definitely not a replacement for cable TV. The available content is good, but whether you want to pay $10.99 per month for only Showtime’s content is a choice that you have to make.
8. Starz Review
Starz is another premium cable network that followed in the footsteps of HBO and Showtime by offering a standalone streaming service. Just like them, Starz too provides users complete access to all of Starz content. In fact, Starz’s even followed the path taken by HBO. Quite like HBO’s first streaming offering HBO GO, Starz is not new to streaming. It had previously experimented with services like Starz Play, MoviePlex, and Encore Play. The content on these services could be accessed only by those users who had subscribed to Starz and Encore on their cable or satellite television. Later, Starz decided to also target the growing population of cord-cutters by offering standalone streaming service. Now, Starz has consolidated all the content that was previously available with its three streaming services into one power-packed service.
- Starz charges its users $8.99 a month to give unlimited access to all of its content.
- Cable subscribers do not have to get a separate subscription for Starz streaming service. They can use the login credentials of their Starz subscription on cable or satellite TV to access the Starz’s streaming service without any additional charges.
Supporting Platforms & Devices
Starz is presently available only on iOS and Android platforms, and that too in a limited way. The iOS devices that support Starz streaming app are iPhone, iPads, iPad Touch, and Apple TV. However, some of the older versions of these devices may not be compatible or support the app. Further, smartphones and tablets running on Android are compatible with the app. But, other Android platforms like Android TV, NVIDIA Shield, and so on still do not feature the app.
Starz is a highly reputed premium network, and is known for high quality television shows, and latest blockbuster movies. By subscribing to the service, users can enjoy up to 2,400 new titles every month. This includes the latest episodes of top shows on Starz, including the original shows like Outlander, Power, and even the upcoming American Gods. However, the best part about the service is its collection of movie titles. The movie library of Starz is one of the biggest among all streaming services. Moreover, it keeps adding the latest blockbuster movies. If that is not enough, Starz allows its users to download its content for later viewing, which is not something that most other streaming services offer. Also, a single streaming subscription to Starz grants up to four users to stream its content simultaneously on their own devices.
As with other network based streaming services, a subscription to Starz will only get you access to Starz’s limited television content. If you enjoy shows like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, The Big Bang Theory, and so on, you will not find them on Starz.
Starz does bring its own high quality television programming to the table. Not to mention its original shows. With more than 2,400 new titles being added every month, it sure is a lot of content. However, if you love shows from other networks, then Showtime cannot be the only streaming service you subscribe to. But, at the price that it charges, you can get a lot more in terms of TV shows from the likes of Hulu Plus or Netflix. However, if you are a serious movie buff, then Showtime should be among your top preference list.
9. iTunes Review
Apple has always been one of the biggest players when it comes to entertainment. Over the years, it has partnered with most of the Hollywood’s producers, production studios, broadcasters, and other parties to offer their content on its services. Whether it is music, TV shows, or movies, Apple offers everything for its users through iTunes. Apple’s users can enjoy all of its content in SD and HD. iTunes does not come with a blanket subscription. Each video has to be purchased individually. However, in case of TV shows, users can rent or buy entire seasons of TV shows at a discount.
- Old movies cost $2.99 to rent in SD, and $3.99 to rent in HD
- New Titles are priced higher at $4.99 per movie to rent in SD, and $5.99 in HD
- You can purchase old movies at $9.99 in SD, and $14.99 in HD
- New Titles can be purchased at $14.99 in SD, and $19.99 in HD
- TV shows cost $1.99 per episode in SD, and $2.99 per episode in HD
Supporting Platforms & Devices
All iTunes apps and software are supported only on Apple devices, save its Desktop Client. These supported devices include iPhone, iPod, iPod, iPad, and Apple TV. The iTunes Desktop Client can also be installed on Windows PC, and accessed by the users.
iTunes offers much of its content in full HD 1080p resolution. Only some of its content is available either in 720p or in only SD. One of the perks of iTunes is its on-the-go capability. You can rent or purchase the content on iTunes, and the content will be available on your iTunes account, which you can enjoy on a host of your gadgets, wherever you go. Rented content is usually available for up to 30 days for the users to enjoy, and once they start watching it, the content is available to them for finishing within only 48 hours. On the other hand, purchased content will be permanently available in the account of the subscribers. They can either stream it online or download it for offline viewing.
The major problem with pay-per-view services like iTunes is that the costs of entertainment stack up very fast. Even renting two old movies in HD will end up costing more than the monthly rent of the basic package of Netflix, which will allow you to enjoy unlimited content at almost the same price. Add a couple of dollars and you can even enjoy HD content with multi-device streaming. Further, all the content on iTunes is available only for accessing on Apple’s devices, except in case of the desktop client of iTunes. This means that if you ever wish to migrate from Apple to Android, then you will not be able to enjoy iTunes on Android.
If you like to collect movies and TV shows, then iTunes is undoubtedly one of the best places to do that. However, it is designed to bind you to Apple’s ecosystem, and if you are comfortable with the idea, then it is worth your time. However, it is best if it is used as a complement to your other entertainment systems, and not as your primary entertainment service, unless you wish to go bankrupt.
10. Google Play Review
Google Play is another pay-per-view streaming service that is accessible to almost everyone, no matter where they are located. Sure, Google is the undoubted king of the internet, and even the biggest player when it comes to online videos, thanks to its acquisition of YouTube at the right time. But, there is a lot that needs to be done by Google in the area of Hollywood entertainment. You can find both TV shows and movies on Google Play. Quite a lot of its content is in HD, but not everything.
- TV shows can be rented at $1.99 per episode in SD, and $2.99 per episode in HD
- Prices for the complete seasons vary, depending on the number of episodes. But they are usually at discounted prices
- Prices for renting and buying of older movies varies too. Renting an old flick can cost $1.99 in SD, and $2.99 in HD.
- You can purchase old movies starting from $9.99
- The latest movies are not always available for renting. When they are available, they usually cost $4.99 or above per movie
- Also, if you wish to purchase latest movies, then they cost $14.99 or above.
Supporting Platforms & Devices
Google Play is built for Android. As such, it is compatible with almost every device that runs on Android. All Android smartphones, smart TVs that feature Android TV, Android Tablets, Android game consoles, Android set-top-boxes, and so on, support Google Play. Also, you can use Chromecast to stream your Google Play content on your tradition television. Unlike Apple’s iTunes, Google’s Google Play is available on cross platforms, meaning that Google has released a version of the app for iOS too. Although you cannot make in-app purchases on iOS version of Google Play, you sure can enjoy the content that you purchased on the app on other platforms. Also, you can enjoy Google Play content on both Mac and PC by using browsers.
Unlike iTunes, Google Play is available on a huge variety of devices, which alone makes it much more convenient to use. Also, using Google Play does not restrict you in terms of platforms of devices which you can use to enjoy the service. Moreover, this service is from one of the biggest internet companies, and hence, the interface is fluid and effortless to use. This app too allows you to enjoy your rented content within 30 days of renting it, and up to 48 hours once you start watching it. Also, the purchased content will be available for you to stream on pretty much every smart device.
Like all other pay-per-view services, the costs of entertainment stack up very fast in case of Google Play too. It is not a substitute for other streaming services, let alone cable television. Moreover, the content library of Google Play is so small that it does not even compare in size to that of most of its competitors. Making matters worse is the fact that HD playback on Google Play is restricted to 720p. Perhaps, because Android was designed to be an OS for handheld devices in the first place.
If you own an Android device, then you don’t even have to sign up for Google Play. You are automatically signed in. But, the costs of renting or buying the content can add up to become even higher than cable subscription charges. So, you can always use the platform to enjoy some movies or TV shows occasionally. Again, just like iTunes, it serves best as an occasional entertainment option, and not as a primary entertainment center.
11. YouTube Review
YouTube is the most popular video entertainment platform in the world. As a streaming service, YouTube is available on almost every smart platform. This makes is versatile and easy to use. Much of the content on YouTube is produced by independent content creators, who are not associated with any particular production house. However, with the growing popularity of the service, quite a number of producers have also started featuring their movies on YouTube. YouTube features a lot of entertainment, most of which is free, while some of it can be rented or purchased too. Apart from this, YouTube also offers a premium subscription – YouTube Red – which provides the users access to premium content.
- Being another Google product, the pricing is quite similar to that of Google Play. However, in the case of YouTube, there is a huge library of movies that are free to watch
- Pricing starts from $1.99 per movie in SD and $2.99 in HD, to rent older movies. It can vary significantly from this price too
- Purchasing older movies can set you back by $9.99 per movie in SD, and $14.99 in HD
- Latest releases can be rented at $3.99 per movie in SD, and $4.99 per movie in HD
- Purchasing latest movies can cost as much as $14.99 per movie in SD, and $19.99 per movie in HD
- YouTube Red costs $9.99 per month
YouTube is one of the most versatile services that is supported on a wide variety of platforms. It is available on both Android and iOS, which together cover almost all smart devices between them, be it smartphones, tablets, or even smart TVs. YouTube apps are also available on set-top-boxes and streaming sticks. If that is not all, you can stream YouTube’s content on HDTVs using Chromecast too.
You need a Google+ account and Google Wallet to purchase or rent content on YouTube. There is a huge library of content available on YouTube, which is updated by the movie producers themselves. You can find everything from old movies to the latest ones like The Jungle Book and Zootopia. Then, the fact that YouTube can be practically accessed from every smart device is what makes is a handy app.
A huge selection of the movies on YouTube are not of good quality. Also, when you can get access to the entire library of Netflix or Amazon Instant Video at almost the same price as YouTube Red, it hardly has any special appeal to the viewers. Also, you will not find any good television shows to enjoy on YouTube either, unless you want to enjoy the video clips of various TV shows uploaded by third parties. Such content is not only illegal, but the clips usually last 5 to ten minutes, and you have to search and find multiple clips to enjoy a single episode of a show. Finally, when it comes to renting the content, the costs of renting easily go well beyond the subscription charges of some of the best streaming services.
YouTube is not a great place to find and enjoy high quality original programming, especially when it comes to television content. However, you can find some good collection of movies there. Yet, the costs of renting or purchase, as in case of all pay-per-view streaming services, get prohibitive too soon.
12. VUDU Review
VUDU is the most popular among the pay-per-view streaming services and is growing fast. It enjoys the backing of Walmart as it was bought by the retail giant in 2010. What used to be a set-top-box manufacturer is now a video rental service. VUDU is set to continue to be a video rental service, albeit by leveraging on the digital technology. You can rent the videos online and enjoy them on a host of devices. Thanks to Walmart’s might, VUDU has been able to consolidate a huge library of movies, TV shows, sneak previews, extras, documentaries, and what not.
- Pricing on VUDU is on pay-per-view basis, and it varies significantly from one product to another
- Renting TV shows usually costs $1.99 per episode in SD, and a dollar more in HD
- Movie rentals can vary greatly starting from $4.99 to $9.99 or even higher
VUDU is available on both Android and iOS. Thus, the app can be downloaded on smart TVs too. Further, it is compatible with set-top-boxes, and gaming consoles including PS3, PS4, Xbox One, and Xbox 360. The other devices that support VUDU are Roku, Chromecast, and Blu-ray players.
The selection of content on VUDU is impressive. Its movie library is one of the best in the industry. You will find a great number of latest movies for renting or buying. You can even preorder some of the movies before their releases. With device compatibility with a host of platforms, VUDU is a great on-the-go entertainment platform you can have. Although VUDU is best known for its movie library, its TV content library is worth a look too. For instance, you can find all the seasons of Game of Thrones on VUDU, which is hardly available outside of HBO.
VUDU still needs a lot of improvement when it comes to its apps. It is available on a decent number of devices, but not all apps offer a great experience. On some of the devices, the app does not support captions. There are many similar issues that are plaguing the service, which need to be addressed. Further, the much of the content on VUDU is available for purchase. The rental library in comparison to the purchase library is very limited in size.
VUDU is no doubt a pricey option when it comes to entertainment. But, it does bring a lot of content to the table that is not usually found on other services. Since there is no subscription, you can have the app, and use it only when you can’t find any desired content on other streaming services. As such, VUDU services best as an add-on service for your entertainment, and not a primary one.
13. FandangoNOW Review
M-GO has now recently been rebranded into FandangoNOW, but the service, and features continue to be the same. The streaming service is a product of collaboration between Technicolor and DreamWorks entertainment. It is a relatively new service, having only started in 2013. But, within the limited time it has been in the market, FandangoNOW has been able to acquire its own loyal fan base. There is no blanket subscription, and you to rent or buy the content individually to watch them.
- Pricing of a video for renting or purchase usually depends on how old the title it
- Older movies can be rented for as low as $1.99 per movie in SD, and $2.99 in HD
- Renting a latest movie can easily cost you $4.99 for SD, and $5.99 for HD
- Purchase prices of latest movies can cost anywhere between $14.99 to $19.99, SD or HD
- Bulk deals on entire seasons of TV shows are also available, which can cost starting from $20.99 per season
Supporting Platforms & Devices
FandangoNOW can be accessed directly on the web, which means that anyone with a PC or a Mac can enjoy FandangoNOW using any of the browsers. Further, FandangoNOW app is available for download on iOS and Android. It is also available with a host of smart TVs from manufacturers like Samsung, Vizio, Toshiba, and LG. FandangoNOW is also available on Roku.
Although FandangoNOW is new on the block, it supports a variety of devices, which makes it convenient to use. The service enables you to purchase content on one platform and enjoy it later on any of the supported platforms seamlessly. Moreover, FandangoNOW features 30,000 tiles in its content library, which is larger than that of many of the industry veterans. Further, TV shows are updated on the service within as much as a day of their airing on the cable television.
Despite the convenient features, FandangoNOW is another money-sucking machine. Without a subscription, which is the case with FandangoNOW, your expenses on entertainment can go out of hand on FandangoNOW. Further, the service does not support many of the devices used by a lot of users such as Amazon Fire TV, or Apple TV. Moreover, TV shows are only available for purchase.
There is no question that the selection of content on FandangoNOW is impressive in its own rights. TV shows are updated pretty fast, and movies are even available for pre-order. Clearly, FandangoNOW is a great place to find content that is usually not available on other services. However, relying on it for your daily dose of entertainment is a costly affair, especially when better options are available with subscription based streaming services or cable substitutes like Sling TV.
14. CinemaNow Review
In the world of streaming services, CinemaNow is one of the oldest players. It started its journey in 1999 as a digital movie service. It was a time during which brick and mortar video rental services were slowly trying to go digital, and CinemaNow entered the market at the right time. Over the years, it has experimented with a variety of offering to the users, including multiple subscriptions, pay-per-view models, and so on. It even ownership when Best Buy bought it, and has been making long strides in the industry since then. At present, CinemaNow offers its content only on pay-per-view basis.
- CinemaNow is relatively a less expensive option among the pay-per-view streaming services
- TV shows start from $1.99 per episode for SD, and $2.99 per episode for HD
- Usually, you can rent movies at $4.99, but the price can go higher depending on the movie
- If you wish to purchase, most of the movies will be available for $19.99 to $22.99 per movie
Supporting Platforms & Devices
CinemaNow is compatible with multiple platforms, including Android, iOS, PCs, Mac, and others. It is compatible with gaming consoles like Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, and others. It is also compatible with many of the smart TVs too.
While CinemaNow was mainly into streaming movies in its early days, it has now shifted its focus on TV shows. You can enjoy the early episodes of a variety of TV shows. In fact, you can enjoy entire seasons of TV shows until you reach the latest episodes of the show. There is a good collection of TV shows on CinemaNow. The streaming service features a parental control feature, which allows parents to decide what content their children can access on the service. Further, the support service of CinemaNow has one of the best support services in the industry.
CinemaNow’s movie library is nothing to brag about. Further, the interface is not designed to be user friendly. There are few options to personalize your account, which makes for a bad experience on the service. Most important of all, the pay-per-view model turns out to be an expensive option for users even when they use it conservatively.
CinemaNow is not a great streaming service by any definition. But, it displays a huge potential to become a great service in the future, thanks to the backing of Best Buy. Right now, it is a decent supplement to your existing entertainment options, and you might occasionally find a TV show that is not on any other service, or a movie that is cheaper here.
15. DIRECTV Now Review: A Beginning with a Promising Future
DIRECTV Now is a new streaming service from DIRECTV, and will be competing directly against DISH’s Sling TV, and Sony’s PlayStation Vue in 2017. At just $35, DIRECTV Now offers more than 100 channels. While Sling TV and PlayStation Vue have cheaper basic packages, they offer a lot less number of channels than DIRECTV Now. At a glance, DIRECTV Now does look like a winning combination of price and number of channels. But, there’s more to a service than just cost and channels. It is the experience offered by it that counts the most in the end. On that front, the verdict is yet to be out.
Following in the footsteps of Sling TV and PlayStation Vue, DIRECTV Now is a new entrant to the streaming service market. Like the former two, DIRECTV Now is also offering live TV to the cord-cutters. With a singular strategy to one-up those two services, DIRECTV Now offers more number of channels at lower prices. To enjoy channels that are not included in your package, you can pick the various add-ons, which are available for $5 each. These add-ons will bring you HBO, Cinemax, and other channels.
Fans of CBS and its family of channels are in for a disappointment here as they are not offered as a part of the service. Also not included are NFL Network, NFL RedZone, and many local channels. Actually, local channels are offered by DIRECTV Now in a handful of cities, and the rest are not so lucky.
The first thing that you will notice about the user interface of DIRECTV Now is its fluid smoothness. The home screen throws up your favorite channels, your watchlist, and the on-demand shows that you are yet to finish viewing. That being said, neither the navigation on the screen nor the remote are intuitive to use. DIRECTV Now’s controls do not follow the convention typically favored by the industry players. For instance, pressing the Back button exits the app, rather than showing up a menu, which is what usually happens on other services. Likewise, there are many pitfalls, which together make up for an unintuitive experience on the service. To be fair, these issues are not something that cannot be addressed with a software update in the future, if DIRECTV feels like it.
For now, DIRECTV Now is compatible with a handful of devices viz. Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Chromecast, Apple TV, iOS, and Android. You can also enjoy the service on browsers like Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Safari. It will be some time before the service is available on other devices like Roku, Android TV devices, and gaming consoles. It might take even more time for the service to finally make its way into other smart TVs.
DIRECTV Now is missing a lot of crucial features at this point. It does not sport cloud DVR, and there is no word from the parent company, AT&T, on when it will be part of the service. As a consolation, there is the 72-hour Rewind feature, which allows you to catch shows that were aired recently. Before you get your hopes up, this feature is available only with some channels, and even then, only some of the shows are available for later viewing.
There are surely quite a lot of bugs to be addressed and features that are missing on DIRECTV Now. Naturally, being an early bird means suffering through all of them until they are fixed by the service. Perhaps, this is why DIRECTV Now is being offered at an introductory price of only $35 per month for more than 100 channels. What’s more, the pricing can be locked in for as long as the subscriber remains subscribed to the service. If you want to try something new before it becomes mainstream, then give DIRECTV Now a chance. It is an okay service at the moment, and will surely become a major player sooner than later. However, if smooth experience is your top priority as a cord cutter, then give DIRECTV Now some time before subscribing to it.