Part One: On-Demand Services
There are so many streaming platforms, and even more in development. That is why we had to split step three of the OTELCO Streaming Series into two parts. Part one, which we will explore today, is all about on-demand streaming services and part two is dedicated solely to live streaming services.
On-demand services offer a host of content, both original and licensed, that you can access at any time. They all come as monthly subscriptions and are promoting free trials so you can test them out before committing. Here is a break down of some of the most popular services out there today.
These are the top three on-demand streaming platforms. If you are serious about cutting the cord, you should subscribe to at least one of these services.
Netflix: Netflix has a ton of original content for on-demand viewing, including award-winning productions such as Orange Is the New Black and last year’s Roma. It also has an immense library of licensed content, from all over the globe. It starts at just $8.99, with Standard and Premium plans available for a special price.
Hulu: Hulu stands out because they have current episodes from select networks, along with their original content, and a library full of classic shows. A basic plan starts a $5.99, but you can purchase network, feature, and premium add ons, such as HBO, unlimited screens, or ad-free viewing, all for various prices.
Amazon Prime: If you are a frequent Amazon buyer, Amazon Prime is a no brainer. For $12.99 a month or $119 a year, you gain access to a whole host of Amazon perks, including but not limited to free shipping, and access to Amazon Video. Amazon Video has thousands of shows and movies, both original and licensed, as well as network add ons such as HBO and Masterpiece Theater.
Free On-Demand Options
Free anything is great, and these four streaming services have a lot to offer for absolutely no cost. With that being said, free stream services tend to have less content to provide and will mean you have to watch a few ads here and there. These services alone may not serve all your streaming needs, but they are an easy addition to any streamers collection.
Tubi: Tubi is the highest rated free streaming service available today. They have an extensive content library and have been growing out their viewing selections to better compete with streaming giants like Netflix. They even have a section titled “Not on Netflix” that contains such shows and movies like The Bachelor in Paradise and Charlotte’s Web.
Crackle: Sony Crackle is decidedly less well-reviewed than it’s competitors. It has less content then Tubi and is said to have poor video quality. What sets Crackle apart from other free streaming platforms, though, is original content. Crackle has fourteen original shows, including a crime drama produced by 50 Cent and starring Rupert Grint (Harry Potter).
The Roku Channel: The Roku Channel is well-loved by Roku’s many users. Unlike other free streaming platforms, the Roku Channel adds News and Weather into their offerings. It also allows you to add premium channels, ranging from HBO to the History Channel.
IMBD TV: IMBD is an Amazon-owned free streaming service. It has a ton of great content, like The Middle, Lala Land, and A Fish Called Wanda. The one downside to IMBD is that it is only available online or through an Amazon device.
Practically every major network has an app you can stream from; the catch is you need to put in you need an existing TV provider to use the. Pretty counterproductive for a cable cutter. Luckily, these four apps let you access content independently.
HBO Now: Unlike its counterpart, HBO Go, you do not need an existing television provider to access HBO Now. For $14.99 a month you can access all the movies, and TV shows HBO has to offer, including a library of older shows such as the much-beloved Game of Thrones. You cannot stream shows live, but they do become available as they air.
Stars: Stars has some great original content available right now, and you can access it all with their streaming app. For just $8.99 a month you can stay caught up on Outlander, American Gods, and Power, with no TV provider necessary.
Showtime: At this point, you probably know the drill. The Showtime streaming app allows you to ditch your TV provider while still staying connected to fan-favorite shows like Shameless and Homeland for $10.99 a month.
CW Seed: The CW Seed app is different from the three we have already covered. It is entirely free, but you can only access older obscure CW shows. So, if you were a huge Pushing Daises fan (as we all should be) or always wanted to catch up on the Blade TV series, this one is for you.
Whatever your TV niche, there is a streaming platform for you. Looking for meditation videos? Try Gaia! Interested in Anime? How about the Crunchy Roll? There are hundreds of specialized apps for whatever you are interested in, and these three are among the most popular.
Shudder: If you are a fan of the frightening and macabre, you will want a Shudder subscription. For $5.99 a month you can access the largest collection of horror, suspense, and thriller productions out there. It includes movies, TV shows, and even original series like Born to Kill.
Acorn: Acorn is a one-stop-shop for fans of British and European TV. It features classic shows like Foley’s War and Doc Martin, along with side feature films and original content. At $5.99 a month, Acorn TV has a vast library of content for anyone who enjoys TV from across the pond. (There is also BritBox for anyone who doesn’t see their favorite British show on Acorn.)
Criterion Channel: The Criterion Channel specializes in classic and independent movies. It is a must for any cinephiles out there who want to pay $10.99 a month for access to over 1,000 of Hollywood’s best films.
Pay Per View
Pay-per-view platforms allow you to purchase content as you go, instead of paying for a network or service subscription. It is a great way to rent content that isn’t available on your favorite platforms, or as a standalone service if you don’t watch TV often. The videos themselves will cost you, but the platforms themselves are all free.
Google Play/Amazon Video/ Itunes: We lumped these three together because they are all the same thing, just for different devices. If you are using an Android TV, or a Chromcast you can rent or buy from the Google Play Store. If you are streaming from an Amazon device or are a prime member streaming from your laptop/mobile device, you can rent or buy from Amazon Video. Lastly, if you are using Apple TV, you can rent or buy all the content you want from iTunes. They all function in the same way, but you cannot access content from one provider on another providers device. That means you can’t watch your iTunes purchases on your Fire Stick, and you can’t watch your Amazon rentals on your Chromecast.
Vudu: If you can’t rent from the platforms above, or just want another option, Vudo is a great place to go to rent/buy movies and TV shows. Not only do they offer digital versions of popular content, but they also offer you the option to bundle digital and disc versions of some popular shows and movies. More so, they provide some free-with-ads content.
FandagoNow: FandagoNow has thousands of TV Shows and Movies available to rent or buy online. It costs nothing to sign up for a Fandango VIP account, and they are always offering great deals on shows and movies.
The Speed You Need
Streaming from any of these services will mean a strain on your current connection. To get a better idea about how much speed you will need, check out OTELCO’s Bandwidth Calculator.