The three most well-known streaming services that provide a large selection of on-demand movies and TV shows are Netflix, Amazon Video, and Hulu. This post compares the cost, content offerings, and supported devices for these three services.
Note: Before I get into specifics, I just want to emphasize that the home-entertainment environment is a huge and complex mess of contracts negotiated between companies that create the content, distribute the content, and manufacture the devices that you watch the content on. So after reading this post, you may very well link, “THAT doesn’t make sense,” but it might make sense from the perspective of any individual company or the industry as a whole.
Note that the number of screens include computers and mobile devices as well as TVs.
With TV shows, you can get a discount for buying an entire season, even for current seasons with unaired episodes; you just buy the season up front and they’ll alert you when the next episode is available to watch.
In addition to the paid video library, Amazon makes a subset of titles available for Amazon Prime members to rent for free. There are two Prime subscription options available: one includes all Prime benefits for $99/year or $10.99/month and the other is exclusively for Prime Videos and costs $8.99/month.
If you have a Prime membership, you can also subscribe to dozens of other third-party video providers, called Channels, like SHOWTIME, STARZ, and ACORN TV. In most cases they’re not cheaper than subscribing to them individually (although you can add on SHOWTIME for $2 less than standalone), but it means you don’t have to set up a bunch of separate accounts. Plus, those videos can then be integrated with your Amazon watchlist.
While Netflix, Amazon Video, and Hulu dominate the streaming landscape, there are other providers you can check out. Apple iTunes and Google Play Movies & TV both offer lots of videos and can be especially good choices for people who use those companies’ devices. You can also check out providers like FANDANGO NOW, Crackle, VUDU, and Popcornflix for multi-genre options as well as niche services like ACORN TV (British series) and Timeless Television (classic TV) for programming that may not be available on the Big Three, you can’t access on the devices you own, or offer better deals.
Do you have a favorite third-party streaming content provider not listed above? Share it in the comments section!
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