The technological era has come a long way in terms of its prowess, giving everyone a better method of procuring entertainment. As attached as are to cable television, there are some drawbacks to the traditional way cable has been provided. But all of that has changed with the introduction of online streaming websites. No longer are we chained in front of our television sets. No longer are we limited in cable entertainment by the traditional cable providing services. Better still, no longer are we forced to invest hundreds of dollars just to catch up on older shows no longer running on cable networks.
In this modern era, it’s not so lucky a thing to be a traditional cable TV provider. Online streaming services have given those companies a run for their money. With the inception of services like Netflix and Hulu, traditional cable companies have been forced to up their game in order to remain competitors in this fast moving world. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of streaming online instead of cable is the amount of options now presented—and all at affordable prices.
Netflix – $9.99/month
Standing at the front of the online streaming world is Netflix, the progenitor of this alternative form of entertainment. Netflix’s inception helped mold and shape the world of online streaming as we know, and lucky for us it did. Geared towards assisting customers with easy to use interfaces and a simple navigation page, Netflix has shifted its focus to the needs and wants of the customers. With that in mind, Netflix also provides a wide variety of Hollywood movies, cable network television shows, and original content, including long-running television shows, like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, and hosts a wide variety of original comedy shows, as well.
Netflix provides all of this, and without commercial interruptions before, during or after your video. That means no more listening to another cat food commercial—especially when you don’t even have a cat.
Hulu – $7.99/month
Like Netflix, Hulu is an online streaming website, with plans starting at just under 8 bucks a month, making it one of the even more affordable options for online streamers. Unlike Netflix and Amazon, Hulu has access to current cable television shows, allowing you all the benefits of having cable television, without the pricey bill at the end of each month.
As has become the standard with online streaming services, Hulu also produces its own original content, coming in the forms of Difficult People and Casual. In addition to its own content, Hulu also helps to provide accessibility to cable television shows that have been cancelled from their original networks, like Fox’s hit show, The Mindy Project.
Hulu’s basic plan, while cheaper than Netflix, is supported primarily through the use of ads and commercials, meaning occasionally, your video will be stopped to load one either at the beginning, middle or end of your video. Understanding the needs of their customers, Hulu recently added a non-commercial tier to their list of available services, starting at just at under 12 bucks a month.
Amazon Prime Instant Video – $99/year
You know Amazon as an online marketplace, home to everything you’ve ever wanted, needed or thought impossible. But did you also know that Amazon has a streaming service, as well? If you’re an avid online shopper and streamer, look no further than Amazon Prime Instant Video.
Customers who already use Amazon Prime are privy to an insane amount of amazing benefits. When you bundle Amazon Prime with the Instant Video service, you’ll gain access to free two-day shipping, and unlimited to access to Amazon Music.
Like many other online streaming services, Amazon Prime Instant Video has produced much of its own original content, including shows like Alpha House, Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle. In addition to its own content, the service provides unlimited access to a substantial HBO collection, full of classic television fan favorites (think The Sopranos and The Wire). As Amazon works in tandem with Viacom, the service has an even greater collection of comedies and children’s television programming, making Amazon Prime among the best choices for family-oriented customers.
One of the major drawbacks to Amazon prime Instant Video, however, would ultimately be its lack of a monthly paid subscription. Instead of offering customers the full benefits of Amazon Prime with a monthly subscription, the service is designed to be used in annual quantities. At just under 100 bucks a year, the full service comes in at $8.25, making it an excellent alternative to cable television.
HBO Now – $14.99/month
With the inception and general love for online streaming services, it’s become quite a difficult task to be only a cable service option. Perhaps that’s why HBO decided to become the first cable network to break away from the traditional mold and host its own online streaming services in the form of HBO Now. Unlike its non-linear predecessor HBO Go, this newest service is an online-only option that doesn’t require customers have traditional cable services.
HBO Now offers same day streaming of your favorite HBO shows (including Game of Throne, Veep and True Detective), allowing you to stay caught up and not overhear spoilers at work. Additionally, HBO Now gives customers unlimited access to everything already available on HBO Go, allowing users to stream a wide variety of premium shows, at a fraction of traditional cable.
Of course, having unlimited access to only HBO’s digital library is perhaps its glaring downfall. While few other streaming services have such a broad access to HBO’s content, HBO Now only has access to this content, and little else. as compared to other streaming services, specifically Hulu (which offers over 10,000 titles) and Amazon Prime (which offers twice that, at over 20,000 titles), HBO Now is severely lacking in content, with only 2000 titles.
Sling TV – $20/month
Cable television seems to have a lot of advantages over many streaming services, ultimately by giving you more channels than you’ll ever be able to watch. That said, of course, it’s oftentimes an overwhelming financial burden when, in all reality, you tend to watch a handful of channels. Luckily, another television alternative exists, and it’s called Sling TV.
The benefit of Sling TV is its close resemblance to traditional cable networking. As such, it gives customers that same feel of traditional cable, but at a fraction of the price, but with the same ability to pick and choose channels however you’d like. By limiting the number of channels available, customers won’t feel overwhelmed and like they’re wasting money.
By offering channels such as CNN, ESPN and Cartoon Network, Sling TV gives customers a pleasant alternative to cable that might otherwise be inaccessible (especially without use of a satellite dish or cable box).
However, at 20 bucks a month, Sling TV is by far one of the more expensive alternative cable services customers can invest in, but it’s still miles below the cost of traditional cable television services. While that in itself might not be a deterrent factor, bear in mind that Sling TV doesn’t support the use of multiple devices to access the service, leaving larger families high and dry.
At the end of the day, you’re the expert when it comes to determining your online streaming needs. Does having two-day shipping appeal to the inner online shopaholic in you? Is premium cable content all you need to complement your streaming experience? Are you looking for original television shows with interesting characters? When you answer those questions, you’ll know exactly what you want from a TV streaming service.
Just be sure to get exactly what you, and nothing less.