Streaming Wars: Which Service Suits You Best?
Today we have 75’’ smart-4K UHD TVs strategically mounted every five feet throughout our homes. We can be entertained 24-hours a day by tens of thousands of shows on just as many channels, and we can watch them just about anywhere–inside, outside, poolside, in the passenger side, or projected on the side of our homes.
Now that Netflix has created—and now dominates—the new world of television, other TV providers can’t continue to sit back, relax, and enjoy the latest episode of Stranger Things. They’re launching their own platforms with their own original content in hopes of recovering their fair share of the bing-watching, couch potato market.
So many choices, so much confusion
In terms of new streaming services, Apple TV+ launched on November 1, Disney+ arrived on November 12, NBC Universal’s Peacock is scheduled to debut in April 2020, and HBO Max will hit the small screen in May 2020. But don’t be blinded by those shiny new pennies. You still have the seasoned veterans who have a decade or so of streaming under their belts like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and CBS All Access.
With the exploding popularity of streaming services, viewers have access to more shows and movies than ever before. You will, however, have to pledge your allegiance to one lucky TV provider. That decision, which we suspect will be strongly influenced by finances and FOMO, won’t be easy.
Not to add fuel to the fire, but if you’re a hard-core fan of a specific series, you might also have to track it down. Several shows could potentially move from one platform to another. For example, “Friends” is saying goodbye to Netflix and hello to HBO Max, and The Office will strut on over to the Peacock in 2021.
Tell it to me straight
The rush of new streaming services has many of us wandering around in a state of confusion. What’s more, they’re all trying to win viewership, and we’re stuck in the middle. Don’t worry–we’ve got your back. Here’s a break down of the who, what, when, and how much of it all:
Netflix offers a wide variety of commercial-free, award-winning TV shows, movies, anime, and documentaries that you can watch whenever, wherever you want. They offer three different plans based on the number of devices that can stream the service at the same time. It’s available on smart TVs, Playstation, Xbox, Chromecast, Apple TV, Blu-ray players, and more. You can even download your favorite shows and watch them on the go.
The monthly cost is $12.99, but take advantage of the 30-day free trial first.
With Hulu, you can watch thousands of shows—full seasons of your favorite series, hit movies, current episodes, and premium Hulu Originals–with plans that start at $5.99/month (after a free 7-day trial, of course). If you’re looking for more, you could also bundle Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+ for $12.99 per month.
Hulu’s newest feature is live television– sports, news, and entertainment. With access to their entire streaming library, the package is $44.99 per month.
You can stream Hulu online and on iOS, Android, Roku, Fire TV & Fire Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Xbox, Samsung, LG, and Nintendo Switch.
Amazon Prime Video is included in the Amazon Prime membership ($119 per year). It allows viewers to stream thousands of movies and TV shows, including exclusive Amazon Originals. Without a Prime membership, Prime Video can be accessed with a standalone membership at a monthly rate of $8.99.
Viewers have the option to rent or buy select movies and TV episodes. They can also bundle 100+ premium channels like HBO, SHOWTIME, MLB.TV and STARZ for an additional cost of 4.99-14.99 per month.
Some Prime Video subscriptions include the Watch Live feature, which allows viewers to live-stream programming. Watch on the Prime Video app, on a compatible Fire TV, smart TV, streaming media player, game console, mobile phone, or tablet.
CBS All Access offers streaming of more than 10,000 episodes of your favorite CBS shows, classic hits, and exclusive, critically acclaimed CBS All Access Original Series. Viewers can also watch live sports, shows, and news at home or on the go via their local CBS station, CBSN, CBS Sports HQ, and ET Live. Streaming devices include Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, Chromecast, Android TV, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Samsung Smart TV.
CBS All Access offers a Limited Commercials Plan for $5.99 per month and a Commercial-free plan for $9.99 per month. Opt for the annual plan and you can save over 15%, but take advantage of the free 7-day trial first.
Apple TV+ features Apple’s original ad-free and on-demand series and movies. Viewers will also find hit movies and shows available for rent or purchase, and access to other video subscriptions like Showtime, Starz and HBO. Watch it on your favorite Apple devices, on streaming platforms, smart TVs, and AirPlay‑enabled TVs. You can also access it on the web at tv.apple.com.
Most Apple TV+ series will release three episodes and then one new episode per week, so binge-racers take note. Apple TV+ doesn’t have a library of licensed shows or movies, and won’t release full seasons of your favorite shows all at once. Their current nine programs are soon to be expanded by another five in the coming months.
After a 7-day free trial, the service costs $4.99 per month, and subscribers can divvy up viewing privileges among six family members. Apple is also bundling Apple TV+ with its Apple Music student-discount plan at no extra cost. One cool perk–viewers who purchased an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod Touch, or Mac as far back as September 10, 2019, qualify for a free 1-year subscription.
Disney+ launched its highly anticipated streaming service on November 12. Now viewers can get the best of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic all in one place—and it’s always ad-free. The entire family can watch new releases, classics, and exclusive originals on the go or at home on up to four different devices at one time.
After a 7-day free trial, you can start streaming for $6.99 per month. Want more? Bundle Disney+ with Hulu and ESPN+ for $12.99 per month.
HBO Max is a new, soon-to-be-released streaming platform. It will bundle HBO with classic shows, documentaries, specials, and blockbuster movies from WarnerMedia’s expansive library, a selection of acquired series and movies, like Friends, for example, plus an exclusive collection of new programming under the Max Originals banner.
The new service is scheduled to launch in May 2020 and will be available on tablets, phones, PC and Mac browsers, game consoles, and streaming media players.
HBO Max will be available for $14.99 per month. Viewers who currently subscribe to HBO NOW through HBONOW.com and are billed through HBO, or subscribe to AT&T TV or U-Verse TV will have access to HBO Max at no additional cost. Subscribers of premium AT&T mobile and broadband services will also gain access to an HBO Max bundle at no extra charge.
Want more information about HBO Max before it launches? Sign up for updates at HBOMax.com.
With so many new streaming services, multiple viewing options, different pricing plans, bundles, and promotions, watching TV can be more stressful than ever. Your best bet is to make your best guess and go!