How to maximize your streaming services
For the longest time, cable TV has been the go-to for the latest and greatest programs. Now, with so many streaming services available, cable TV providers are taking a hit and it’s certainly the start of their demise. So, how can you maximize streaming services?
- In case you hadn’t heard, Netflix is popular. In fact, we might spend even more time on Netflix than with friends.
- Proving its popularity, most Netflix users don’t have another streaming service. But, Hulu and HBO Now subscribers do.
- Netflix isn’t just killing it on the small screen, they’re also great at social media and are known for personalizing all of their responses.
- Hulu is going above and beyond with their beta for Live TV. You can tune into live shows as they air, plus it has cloud storage for DVR.
It seems that everyone and their mom has Netflix (or at least someone else’s login details) and the reason is clear: it’s brilliant. It’s so brilliant, in fact, that loads of other brands have put forth their own version to get a piece of the pie. Of those, many have become nearly as popular. What’s most fascinating is that many have also begun to create and produce their own original content. With all of this at our fingertips, it gives us reason (and the power) to determine whether streaming services will be the ultimate killer of cable TV. However, there are so many options that figuring out the best one for you can be tricky.
- Multiple devices: You can stream your favorite programs on a variety of devices in addition to your TV including your smartphone and tablet.
- Add/drop: Because there is no contract, you can decide when you want to drop or add services and even rotate between them.
- Combinations: Likewise, you can sign up for multiple streaming services to cover all genres of shows and movies.
- Premium content: In addition to the public’s favorites, many services are also producing their own original content. And it’s good.
- Ad-free: With no commercials, you can binge-watch to your heart’s content.
- Availability: With an entire series available immediately, you can watch at your own pace.
However, cable TV does excel where streaming services fail. There are two key areas where cable TV still holds the top position:
Sports: With individual streaming packages being so expensive and blackouts all but guaranteed, watching sports on cable is one of the easiest ways to enjoy the games. But, even with ESPN’s new app, no streaming option totally fills this space.
News: Watching the nightly news is arguably America’s favorite pastime (after baseball, Sunday drives, and perhaps eating). With cable TV, you have a plethora of viewing options and can even cater your programs down to your political affiliation. However, social media is also a prime source for news consumption, no matter how fake it may be sometimes.
When it comes to streaming services, there are a few names that instantly come to mind for everyone. While Roku used to be a frontrunner, their teaming up with Netflix paved the way for the major brand to excel even further. Each of these brands offers tons of movies and TV shows as well as exclusive content. Plus, you can add multiple profiles so you, your other half, and your
gremlins kids can live in a world of TV peace.
- Netflix – The original and, arguably, the greatest. For only $10.99 a month, you get the best of the best, including award-winning original content.
- Hulu – A sort of little brother to Netflix, you get thousands of titles starting at $7.99 a month. Plus, you can add premium channels such as HBO, SHOWTIME, and CINEMAX starting at only $8.99 a month. However, nixing commercials will cost you extra.
- Amazon Prime – You can choose to pay $99 a year or $12.99 a month to stream everything Amazon has to offer. You can add-on premium channels, too. Don’t forget the free two-day, same-day, and 2-hour shipping options.
- DIRECTV NOW – Starting at $35 a month, you can access over 60 live channels without the need for a satellite or an annual contract. You can stream everything from live news to sports in addition to on demand titles.
For some, premium channels may be the only reason for sticking to cable TV. But, there’s good news. Some of the most famous have branched out to offer on demand streaming for all of your devices. While these streaming options started off as a bonus for paying for a premium channel through your cable provider, these services have taken the business into their own hands to offer contract-free accounts direct to the consumer.
- Showtime Anytime – Beyond the standard movies and TV shows, you can also access sports and even live TV from your smart TV, tablet, phone, and computer. Commercial-free, it’s only $10.99 a month.
- HBO Go – The wide world of HBO is now available everywhere for only $14.99. Plus, it kicks off with a 1-month free trial (like you’d even need it).
- Starz – The most affordable of the premium channels, you can access all of Starz for only $8.99 a month.
While those big brand names certainly bring a lot to the table, there are plenty of smaller options to fulfil your streaming needs (and budget). In addition, another trend in this field is the advent of social media networks becoming content producing machines. Combining these two industries is nothing short of genius. We’re already on social media, why not have it take up even more of our time?
- YouTubeTV – With up to 6 accounts per household and no cloud storage limits, this service is only $35 a month with no contract. Plus, you can watch live TV with over 40 networks, including local sports.
- Facebook Watch – It has content specifically made and designed for the social media platform. It puts original content where you’re already browsing. Plus, it’s free.
- fuboTV – Starting at only $19.99, this is designed for true sports fans. You can watch over 70 live channels and view TV shows and movies. However, after the first month, it goes up to $44.99 a month.
- CBS All Access – Live TV, 10,000 episodes, and CBS originals all in one place starts at just $5.99 a month, including ads. You can go commercial-free for only $9.99.
- Sling – Advertized as “a la carte TV,” plans start a just $20 a month. For just $5 each, you can add loads of add-ons, keeping your monthly bill low and personalizing your experience.
- PlayStation Vue – Now you can live stream sports, news, and the best shows right from your gaming console. Plus, you can DVR shows at home and on the go. Plans range from $40 to $75 a month.
Where cable TV fails
The beauty of streaming services is the lack of commitment. While we all have our tried and true apps and programs, it’s comforting to know that we can instantly drop any of them at a moment’s notice. It’s not unheard of for users to switch back and forth between Netflix and Hulu to binge-watch a series before going back again.
Cable TV, on the other hand, requires an hours-long window for a technician to come out, pages and pages of contracts, and a term of at least a year. Not to mention, the monthly bills are all but extortionate. In addition to all of this, the major streaming brands are coming up with all sorts of solutions to our need for TV. Take Hulu with Live TV, for example. Still in beta, it offers all of Hulu with no commercials, 50+ live TV channels, 50 hours of cloud DVR storage, and more. All of this comes at $43.99, a fraction of your cable bill.
While we don’t condone illegal activity, we certainly cannot fully explore this topic without talking about the elephant in the room: jailbreaking devices. One of the most notable is the Amazon Fire TV Stick. Essentially, once this nifty USB stick is plugged into your smart TV, you can use your tech IQ to install media server software (or get someone to do it for you). It’s not exactly “jailbreaking” as we know it, but more of a workaround.
The most popular software of this variety is Kodi. While the software itself is legal, it doesn’t actually include any content. Instead, the user must also install add-ons, many of which are illegal. These provide totally free content and are not part of the list of approved add-ons by Kodi. Nonetheless, you have access to virtually anything you can imagine, including live TV options. However, the quality is never guaranteed.
Another savvy solution to all of this is taking advantage of free trials. With many of the services, including Hulu and DIRECTV NOW, you can sign up for a two-week, 30-day, or even a 45-day trial period. This requires your details, including a credit card. All you have to do in order to avoid a charge is to cancel before the determined trial end date. Now, if you were to create dozens and dozens of email addresses in order to register for these free services, that would be one hell of a streaming hack. However, it’s worth noting that you wouldn’t be able to use the services to their full potential. Your profile would never roll over so any queues or saved lists would be deleted. Plus, trial versions may not have all the content you’d get with a paid service, and you might be subjected to more ads.
Ultimately, streaming services have certainly stated their case. They’re versatile, ever-evolving, and unprecedentedly present with the consumer. Leveraging a combination of multiple services is sure to cover everything you could want from TV and more. For example, having Hulu Live TV and HBO cover all the shows, movies, and news you could want. Pepper in fuboTV for sports, and you have everything. That all comes in at just under $95 a month. Although cable companies may offer a great introductory price, you’ll end up paying a lot more over time only to receive a lot less (and have to put up with commercials).
As a result, we’re predicting a major change in the cable TV industry. There will come a time when cable companies can no longer compete. Which streaming services do you use? Did we miss any great ones on our list?
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