Checkout Television on the Web pt. 1 “Is it right for me?” if you haven’t already.
So what do we replace our hundreds of cable channels with? There are several on-demand Internet streaming media services out there. Each has its strengths and weaknesses.
Cost: $7.99/month streaming or $15.98 streaming + DVDs
Available on: Apple TV, Roku, Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3, Smart TVs, various tablets, phones and internet connected DVD players and devices
This is the most well known service out there. They offer complete seasons of TV shows and an immense number of movies. Netflix just recently added Disney movies and TV shows.
Netflix doesn’t add TV shows the day after they air on cable. Generally, their shows are already available on DVD. They also offer a larger DVDs by mail service for an extra 7.99.
They do offer a 30-day free trail.
You can checkout their catalog at Netflix.com
Cost: Free on computer, $9.99/month for Hulu Plus which allows access from other devices and a larger catalog
Available on: Apple TV, Roku, Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3, Hulu, various tablets, phones and internet connected DVD players and devices
Commercials: Yes, even with Hulu Plus
Hulu is a joint venture between NBC, Fox and Disney. Hulu offers free viewing of a good portion of their catalog including next day TV shows. If you want to stay current with TV shows from NBC, Comedy Central, Fox and others, this is your service.
One unique feature of Hulu Plus is the addition of the Criterion Collection. This is a nice feature for cinema fans because you’ve got a lot of great, critically acclaimed movies here.
Hulu Plus is free to try for one week.
Available on: Kindle Fire, Roku, Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3, Smart TVs, various tablets, phones and internet connected DVD players and devices
This one can be a little confusing, so bear with me.
With Amazon, you can buy TV shows and movies by the episode. This is much like iTunes. In order to buy shows and movies, you don’t have to be an Amazon Prime member.
If you want to watch unlimited streaming TV shows and movies (think Netflix) then you need Amazon Instant Prime Video. This will also give you access to free two-day shipping on a lot of Amazon.com items and access to the kindle lending library.
The Instant Prime catalog is very much like Netflix, but not as extensive.
Amazon is great for those shows that aren’t offered on streaming or the if DVD hasn’t come out.
For instance, my wife and I watch “The Walking Dead” the day after it airs. It isn’t offered on Netflix or Hulu, so we just buy the $1.99 episodes. Your purchases are always available from that point on. You are actually buying the episode, not renting it.
Amazon Prime offers a free 30 day trial.
Cost: Per Item Cost varies, $.99 and up.
Available on: Apple Devices
Most people will be familiar with iTunes. You buy the TV show, music, or movie and can watch it on your Apple TV, iPad, iPod, and iPhone.
Their catalog is huge and if you can’t find it here, good luck finding it anywhere else.
Cost: $8/month with 4 free DVD rentals from Redbox kiosks per month.
Available on: Mobile devices for now- iPad, iPhone, Android
So, First off, I should point out that Redbox Instant is in beta right now so it’s not fair to compare them yet.
You have access to a limited catalog of movies you can stream and DVDs from a Redbox kiosk.
Redbox Instant isn’t taking any business from Netflix yet, but when it roles out publicly, this might change.
Check out the free 1 month trial.
Price: Pay per download
Available on: basically, everywhere iTunes isn’t
Vudu is from Walmart. I really like this service because it’s available in a lot of places, has a big catalog, TV shows are available quickly after air and they have nice curated lists of shows and movies.
Right now, they’re offering 10 free movies when you sign-up.
Price: Starting at 9.99/month
Available: Roku, Smart TVs and mobile
Ok, so I think blockbuster is confused by itself. It offers DVDs by mail like Netflix did, and it offers streaming purchases like Vudu.
I’m not sure how much longer they’re going to be around and I don’t really consider them players.
Free trials… yep, they’re offering all kinds of promos to get you to try them. Maybe I’m a bit bitter from paying $5-6 for a 1-day VHS rental back in the 1990s and I’m not interested. Pass.
Now, which device is right for you? Television on the Web pt. 3 “Pick a Device”
Which services are you interested in? Which have you used? Which do you recommend?