So, this is the final part of my 3 Part Blog on Streaming Video, Cord Cutting, Smart TV’s and all the jargon that goes along with it. Hopefully you’ve read and decided if cord cutting is something that will work with your viewing lifestyle. Maybe you feel like it’s too early to make such a drastic change. That’s OK – like I mentioned in Part 1, it took me over a year to finally pull the trigger, and I’m still not entirely sure if my decision was the right one or not.
In this post, I will talk about the various services that exist that will allow you to stream the various content you are interested in. I’ll give a brief description of each along with a link to their website for more information.
-Netflix (www.netflix.com) – Probably the most popular streaming service out there. At around $10 per month, Netflix has 1000’s of movies- not really new releases though – it takes time for a new movie in theaters to eventually make it to Netflix. And Netflix adds content every month (and sometimes takes content away for a period of time). For TV Shows, it’s important to note that they have past seasons of TV shows, not current seasons (for current seasons, read about Hulu in the next paragraph). Netflix also has original programming which makes it a popular choice. If you’ve heard of “House of Cards” or “Orange is the New Black”, then you’ll only find those original shows on Netflix. No live programming on Netflix.
-Hulu (www.hulu.com) – Mostly TV shows (some movies and original programming), but the thing that sets Hulu apart is that it will show episodes from currently running TV series from most of the major networks (Fox, ABC, NBC, AMC, etc.) in addition to past seasons (like Netflix). When it airs for the first time on regular TV, it usually is on Hulu the following day. There is rumors that Hulu is getting into the live TV business in the near future, which will be huge if they keep the price reasonable.
-Amazon Instant Video (www.amazon.com) – Similar to Netflix (nothing live) as they have movies and past seasons of TV shows, along with some original programming. The thing about this service is that if you are an Amazon Prime member, then this is included in that package. That has been an added bonus and has helped Amazon sell Prime Memberships.
-Sling (www.slingtv.com) – A streaming service that offers live programming of many of the major networks. Sling’s packages have a flat-rate price and they offer 2 or 3 different types. For those who like to watch their shows “when they air”, this would be what you’d want to subscribe to. In addition, the sports or news buffs in the family would be interested in this service as well due to live streaming (who wants to watch the big football game after you already know who won it?)
-CBS All Access (www.cbs.com/all-access) – CBS has a service for $6/month where you can watch CBS shows (live and past seasons). I foresee other networks following similarly to what CBS has done, but currently NBC and ABC don’t have this yet. One good thing about this app in the Charleston-area is that you can even watch the local Charleston news on this app as well. Unfortunately, if regular CBS cable airs an NFL game, the All-Access streaming service will not stream the game. Football fans won’t like that. I’m not sure about other sports just yet.
-HBO GO (www.hbogo.com) – past and present HBO programming (movies and tv series) for $15/month. It’s a standalone service, meaning you aren’t required to have a traditional cable package to watch.
-Showtime (www.showtime.com) – Similar to HBO. A variety of movies. Standalone service.
-Starz (www.starz.com) – another similar service to the two above.
-MLB Home Plate, NBA League Pass, NHL Center Ice. MLS Soccer – for the sports fans, you can purchase a package that will allow you to watch most of the games live. You also have the option to pay just for your favorite team in some instances.
-NFL Football – nothing exists yet to pay for NFL games as a stand-alone service, but there is a rumor that in the near future, you’ll be able to buy NFL Sunday Ticket as a separate service. Currently, only DirecTV subscribers have access to this package due to their agreement with the NFL. *UPDATE: Twitter is now live broadcasting Thursday Night NFL Games free of charge. I think this is the start of something big for NFL if they can figure out how to cash in on new viewers.
-WatchESPN, Disney Channel, A&E, SyFy, Food Network, National Geographic, CNNGo, Lifetime, and a host of others have apps that you can stream their content, but these are not standalone services. When you try to stream these channels, you are required to provide your cable subscribers login to prove that you pay for these channels in a traditional cable package. Kinda defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?? Many of these channels are available to watch live on Sling, which we talked about earlier.
-Amazon, iTunes Store, or Google Play Store – there are many new release movies and current TV series from the major Cable Networks that you can purchase on a “per episode” or “per season” basis. My wife loves TLC shows, and since we can’t find a service to stream TLC, she purchases her favorite shows on iTunes and watches them (but not live, as she has to wait at least 24 hours before they are available to purchase and stream).
Lastly, you can purchase HD Antennas for your television to pick up a variety of “over the air” live channels. I haven’t done this, but in speaking with others, certain areas are better than others, and sometimes the poor reception makes it difficult to have a good experience. Antennas usually aren’t very expensive.
There may be other streaming services that are out there as well, but these are the major ones. One thing’s for certain, cable companies are losing their traditional customers due to the rising monthly costs and the fact that they usually have packages with hundreds of channels that you don’t even care about. People are demanding a more “a la carte” service where they pay for what they watch. And when the public wants a service, there’s usually someone out there who can meet their needs.
I hope you have found these posts about streaming TV beneficial. I think this is similar to what computers and the internet did to the music industry many years ago. You’ll be hard pressed to go buy an album on disc anymore when you can simply download it to your iPod in seconds. It’s just another way technology evolves and in turn helps us evolve as a society.
Submitted by Chad Droze
Post and Computer Center (Freshfields Village)