Five years ago I had enough of paying for 50 channels that I didn’t watch and didn’t renew my cable subscription when it expired. For a year I just used a digital antenna (which never worked well for me, poor reception) and streamed Netflix (very slowly). Since that didn’t work great for us the first time around I went back to cable and signed a two year contract with a company I’ll call “BadTV.” After being overcharged almost every month for a year and three months I broke the contract with BadTV and bought a Roku 3 about a year ago. Now we stream Amazon Prime and Netflix and save hundreds of dollars each year. The savings can be tremendous, depending on your family’s TV and movie watching habits.
In this article I’ll break down the pros and cons of each service that I have personally used (Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu/Hulu Plus, iTunes & Sling) to help you decide which would work best for your family. Please keep in mind that your experiences with these services may differ from mine depending on your streaming device and internet speed (we get the fastest one available – my husband’s a gamer).
For those of you completely new to the concept of streaming shows, there are three (or possibly four) things you’ll need in order to get started:
- A wireless internet connection at the highest speed you can afford.
- A streaming device. Think of this as the cable box with which you’ll select and view your channels – except you pay for it once and there are no monthly fees.
- One or more streaming services.
- Most streaming devices require an HDMI cord; they are generally not included with the streaming device unless you purchase a bundle.
A quick note about streaming children’s shows:
If you’re primarily looking to stream children’s shows I recommend making a list of all the shows that your child(ren) have to have and then use that list to narrow down your streaming services. For example my daughter went through a period where she was obsessed with Dora; that show is only available to stream for free on Amazon Prime and only certain seasons are available for free. If you want newer episodes you have to buy them individually or by season. Also be aware that both Amazon & Netflix have and promote their own “original” children’s shows heavily. This is a marketing strategy to ensure that you will keep using their service long term because kids become obsessed with the shows they watch and don’t want to give them up. The same is true for adult shows – for example “Orange is the New Black” on Netflix (that show is addictive!). So if you just want to try a service out for a short time I’d recommend not diving into their original shows for kids until you’re ready to commit to a service.Streaming Devices – Page 2 Streaming Services – Page 3
Photo credit: Wavebreak Media Ltd / 123RF Stock Photography