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Netflix, Amazon and Hulu are the heavyweights in the video streaming industry, but there are many other options as wel
Plenty of options
Netflix, Amazon and Hulu are the heavyweights of this industry, but new players like Epix, Redbox and Vudu all offer competing services. Some of these services even come as part of cable packages consumers already have. Here’s a list of 10 video streaming options, their prices and pros and cons.
Amazon has two flavors for video streaming. One is Amazon Instant Video, which claims to have 150,000 movies and TV shows to rent or buy. Amazon’s most dedicated customers – those who sign up for Amazon Prime for $79 per year – get access to many of Amazon Instant Video’s titles at no additional charge. But, not all video streaming is available for free for Prime customers, new releases usually still cost between $4.99 for a 48-hour rental and $12.99 to buy a digital copy of the movie. Amazon Instant Videos are available to watch on through a customized Apple application, or through web browsers on other devices.
From its roots as a mail-order movie rental business, Netflix has evolved into a robust video streaming outlet, boasting more than 36 million subscribers. A Netflix subscription costs $7.99 per month, or about $96 annually. Users get access to some shows only on Netflix, including original content like political thriller TV show House of Cards, and the latest and last, season of cult comedy hit Arrested Development. Content can be streamed on mobile devices via a Netflix app, on connected TVs like the Apple TV, or on gaming systems like the PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360.
Like Amazon.com, Hulu offers a couple of flavors for customer between Hulu.com and Hulu Plus. The video streaming site offers a wide selection of television shows that users can watch for free, but they usually come with commercials and only the most recent handful of episodes are available. For $7.99 per month (same price as Netflix), Hulu Plus members get entire video libraries of shows, including current and past seasons. Hulu can be streamed in a browser, or through Apple and Google Android-specific apps. Hulu is generally seen to have more recent and current shows that appear the day after airing on television, while Netflix has a larger historical library and a broader selection of movies.
Yes, the venerable viral video outlet has more streaming options as well. Still, many are niche video production outlets, not brand-name movies and TV shows. YouTube Live includes look-ins to events happening around the world, from concerts to political rallies and sporting events. There are a variety of free YouTube channels as well; including comedy and gaming focused ones. There are also paid YouTube channels, including one for UFC Fighting ($5.99 per month), another for Jim Henson Family TV ($2.99/mo). YouTube is available through any web browser, or customized applications for both Apple and Android devices.
HBOGo, tied to cable subscription
If you get HBO from your cable provider, then you can access HBOGo online, and through both Apple and Android apps. HBOGo features original TV series’ like The Newsroom, Real Time with Bill Maher, and a variety of movies.
Epix is a video on demand service offered by a handful of cable providers as a premium add-on or as part of an a la carte suite. Major providers it works with include Charter, Cox Communications, DISH Network and Verizon FIOS. The company is sponsored by major movie studios including Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM, so it focuses on having those big blockbuster movies, and has a fairly good selection. Epix has iOS and Andoird apps, as well as ones for gaming consoles.
Vudu is Wal-Mart’s video streaming service. It has a simple service model: Rent movies for $2 for two nights and watch them on a variety of devices, from computers to game consoles (PS3, or Xbox 360), or on select Blu-Ray players that are Vudu enabled. New releases cost more, usually $4.99 for a standard definition and $5.99 for high-definition. Wal-Mart also offers credits on some physical movies it sells in its stores to get the digital copy online with the purchase. Vudu has a pretty good selection of major new and old movies and television shows.
Apple’s video streaming service is run through iTunes, which is also the spot to get music on the company’s platform. Most new release movies cost $19.99 to buy or $4.99 to rent, while most TV shows cost $1.99 per episode, or around $30 for the entire season. Once downloaded, they can be watched on MacOS, iOS, or Apple TV.
RedBox, which has rental kiosk boxes in many parts of the country where DVDs and Blu-Ray discs can be rented, has recently rolled out an online streaming service named Redbox Instant, which it partners with Verizon to offer. A glitch is that due to licensing restrictions, movies can not be purchased on iOS devices from Redbox, but they can be viewed on the devices once purchased on a Mac or PC. It does have apps for viewing RedBox content on both Apple and Andoird devices. Redbox Instant just debuted in June, so the service is still in beta, but customers can sign up for $8 per month.
For sports aficionados, there are a number of options to watch your favorite teams play full games, or just catch the highlights. One is ESPN, which offers streaming of ESPBN, ESPN2 and EPSNU (which focuses on college sports). Watching streamed ESPN requires users to authenticate that they pay for ESPN through their television cable service provider. Each of the major sports, as many niche ones, have streaming options available as well. MLB, NHL, NFL and NBA all have their options to sing up to games in a single season. MLBTV, for example, allows baseball fans to watch games starting at $19.99 per month, or $79.99 per year, depending on what additional features, like mobile app viewing is selected.