There’s only one plan. It’s actually a membership fee that costs $99/year. When you break it down over 12 months that comes to just $8.33/month so it’s not a bad deal if you don’t mind prepaying for the whole year upfront versus having the flexibility to cancel at any time as with the other services listed below. In addition to thousands of free “Prime” movies and TV shows your membership includes a staggering number of benefits: an mp3 library with hundreds of free prime stations by popular artists, free 2-day Prime shipping (invaluable around the holidays), discounted “Prime Pantry” staples, one free book a month with the Kindle Lending Library, unlimited photo storage in Amazon’s cloud and other deals exclusive to Prime members. It also qualifies you for a free Amazon Mom membership which gives you discounts on baby products including diapers (20% off). Plus if you already have any of Amazon’s Kindle tablets, transferring free or purchased digital goods (movies, music and books) is effortless and wireless! My household has three Kindles; we’re big fans of Amazon over here!
- You get a ton of benefits on top of free movies and shows for about the same price that you’ll see on any of the other services listed below.
- If they don’t have a free show you want to watch you can easily buy it at very competitive rates. I’ve been buying all of my music, TV shows and movies through Amazon for years – no complaints.
- You can’t pay for the service month-to-month; you have to pay a yearly membership fee upfront.
- Only certain seasons of TV shows are available for free with Amazon Prime; others must be purchased.
For my family this service has been worth every penny and with their base streaming plan starting at just $7.99/month it easily fits into most family’s budgets. The basic plan doesn’t include HD or Ultra HD however I have the basic plan and have never noticed poor image quality. The next tier level is $9.99; it includes HD and you can stream Netflix on up to two devices at a time (so you and your kids can watch separate shows at the same time on your TVs, tablets, computers, phones, etc). The last tier costs $11.99 and includes HD, Ultra HD and can stream Netflix on up to 4 devices. None of these options include their DVD rental service which is available at an additional cost.
- In my opinion, Netflix has the best mix of shows for both adults and children for the best price. They have almost all the shows my daughter loves and tons of movies for my husband and I to stream.
- You’d be hard-pressed to find a device that’s not compatible with Netflix. My Roku 3 has this amazing feature that when you open Netflix it lets you set up separate profiles for all the different users – meaning I don’t have to scroll through 20 kid shows to find shows I want to watch and my daughter won’t accidentally turn on “Orange is the New Black” because I’ve set up a separate kid’s account for her. Sadly, my Roku 2 doesn’t have this feature.
- Their shows and movies are all late releases and past seasons so you’re always going to be a season behind on your current favorite shows unless you supplement this service with another (see Hulu/Hulu Plus & Sling).
- If they don’t have your shows in their lineup you’re tough out of luck. They don’t give you the option to purchase shows/episodes. You’ll have to buy them somewhere else (Amazon, iTunes, etc).
Hulu is a free streaming service that collects all the network shows that are available to stream for free online so that viewers can watch all their shows in one place. They stream current season shows however there is usually a limit to how many previous episodes you can watch. For example I became addicted to the series “Scandal” by watching past seasons on Netflix but when I tried to watch the current season on Hulu I could only view seven of the most recent episodes. To “unlock” the older episodes of the current season I had to buy Hulu Plus. The “Limited Commercial” version of Hulu Plus is $7.99/month and the “No Commercials” version is $11.99/month. They advertise that you can stream Showtime for an additional $8.99/month however that is only available if you already have a paid cable subscription.
- It’s an inexpensive way to view current season shows.
- You can only stream some basic network shows (on FOX, NBC, etc) but not many shows on cable channels.
- You still have to wait a day to watch new episodes, so you’ll have to put on earmuffs if your friends start talking about the crazy episode they watched last night.
There are no plans available on iTunes. TV shows are offered for purchase by episode or you can buy a “Season Pass.” Movies are also available to purchase and rent. To be honest I haven’t streamed any movies or TV shows on iTunes in years however I don’t remember having any issues with the streaming quality or picture. The purchase and rental prices seem to be comparable to the prices you’ll find on Amazon
- If you’re an “Apple” household this would probably integrate seamlessly with your other Apple devices.
- There is no subscription plan or “free” video library so you have to pay for every movie or TV show that you watch individually.
The basic plan is $20/month and is called “Best of Live TV Package.” Channels included in this package are: ESPN, ESPN2, AMC, Food Network, A&E, History, TNT, El Rey, HGTV, IFC, Disney, POLARIS+, Maker, TBS, Travel, Adult Swim, CNN, H2, Cartoon Network, Lifetime, Galavision, & Bloomberg TV. There is also the option to purchase extra channel packages (including HBO!) on top of the basic package at an additional cost (between $5 – $15/month each).
Sling is a relative newcomer to streaming services. It’s the only live TV streaming service on this list and the channel lineup is pretty impressive. This service is great for people that want the same TV watching experience they’ve become accustomed to but at a lower price. A few months ago I did 2 trial months of the Lifestyle, Kids Extra & Hollywood Extra Packages in addition to their basic package. I was very excited to try it because I like the idea of only paying for the shows I will actually watch. Now that the two months are up I have a love/hate relationship with Sling, here’s why:
- It’s an effortless transition from traditional TV watching to TV streaming because it’s pretty much the same experience.
- Sling is the only streaming service to offer premium cable channels (HBO, LMN, WE, HGTV, Disney, etc) without requiring a current cable subscription.
- Sling is the only service on this list to offer live streaming sports on ESPN & ESPN2.
- You pay for only the channel packages your family needs.
- The base package price is much higher than any of the other streaming services and if you “add-on” too many channel packages you could be paying close to what your original cable bill was.
- This is a deal breaker for me – there is no way to record shows. The channels on their basic “Best of Live TV Package” are all live streaming and cannot be recorded. However with some of the add-on channel packages you are able to go back through the channel’s schedule to view past episodes/movies.
- Another deal breaker for me: poor picture and streaming quality. On many occasions the previously sharp images became fuzzy blobs while I was watching shows. I also had issues with channels freezing so bad I had to restart my Roku. At this price point I expect a seamless streaming experience.
I hope this helps you find the right streaming service(s) for your family. Any questions? Ask away!
Have you already cut cable? Are there any other streaming services you use and love? Please let me know in the comment section!Intro to Streaming – Page 1 Previous Page