We've never had better options for streaming movies and TV to our mobile devices, and the services are affordable. However, if you're a cord cutter or a media glutton trying to build your own bundle,more
We've never had better options for streaming movies and TV to our mobile devices, and the services are affordable. However, if you're a cord cutter or a media glutton trying to build your own bundle, the cost of multiple services can really add up -- a la carte can end up costing you more than a cable subscription. Let's show you what your best choices are, and why.
Netflix pricing ranges from $8 to $14 per month. All tiers let you screen unlimited content to your TV, laptop, tablet, or phone. The Basic tier ($8) gets you streaming to one screen at a time with no HD; Standard ($11) offers HD on up to two screens simultaneously; Premium ($14) offers HD, Ultra HD 4K, and streaming to four screens at once.By comparison, HBO -- which has also announced 600 hours of original programming available for streaming -- charges $15 per month for HBO Now, making it the most expensive option. (HBO Go is bundled for free with HBO cable subscriptions.)
Hulu is the most similar, with its combination of recent TV shows and a growing library of original content like the acclaimed Handmaid's Tale. Hulu also has a live TV service, which you can get at a discount if you combine it with their standard subscription. The standard sub is roughly the same price as Netflix, though you do have to pay a few more dollars to get rid of ads entirely.
This service is free with Amazon Prime subscription, which costs $100 a year or $9 a month; it has high-quality original content like Goliath, Bosch, and Sneaky Pete. You can add Showtime streaming for an additional $9 per month (versus $11 per month if acquired separately).
Sling TV is one of the cheapest live TV services around, especially for sports fans, coming in at $20 a month. However, its interface doesn't have a reputation for smooth navigation, and your on-demand options are limited (partly to reduce costs).
Despite its name, Sony's live TV streaming service is available for iOS and Android, Chromecast, and Roku. It offers a wide variety of channels, up to the point where you might not be saving much over a standard cable TV subscription. You can also tag upcoming episodes and live events to be recorded and saved in your personal cloud, so that you can watch them at your convenience later on.
Hulu costs slightly more than Netflix, but it gets recent network TV episodes within about a week of live airing, sometimes less. It also has some shows not available on Netflix (there's no master list, though, since they may trade back and forth over time). They also offer live TV, but it's not available in all markets, and some devices may have Hulu but not support its live TV portion.
Despite increasing competition, Netflix is the most complete online video store you can find, with movies, TV series, and impressive original shows that range from House of Cards to Marvel's Jessica Jones to BoJack Horseman. Plus, as with Amazon Prime, you get an entire season of those original series at once, so you can binge-watch to your heart's content.
And Netflix plans to collect even more shows. The company announced at the beginning of 2016 that it plans to spend $6 billion on content this year, an amount that puts it in the ranks of the biggest media companies. Some of that money will go toward original content -- Netflix intends to produce over 600 hours across 30 different shows in 2016 (up from 450 hours in 2015 and 320 hours in 2014). Probably the bulk of those 600 hours will be in more television series, though the company recently purchased the distribution rights to several feature films that were being circulated at festivals.