Best Video Streaming Services of 2017

In this article we introduce the 5 best video streaming services including Netflix and Hulu. Which one(s) deserve your subscription dollars? We break it all down.

What is Streaming Video

Streaming video is content sent in compressed form over the Internet and displayed by the viewer in real time. With streaming video or streaming media, a Web user does not have to wait to download a file to play it. Instead, the media is sent in a continuous stream of data and is played as it arrives. The user needs a player, which is a special program that uncompresses and sends video data to the display and audio data to speakers. A player can be either an integral part of a browser or downloaded from the software maker’s Web site.

Best Video Streaming Services

Streaming services started as an add-on to DVD and digital download offerings with a trickle of second-run movies and TV shows. But speedier internet connections, an abundance of dedicated streaming video devices, and an explosion of mobile video has allowed services like Netflix and Amazon to bulk up streaming libraries, invest millions in original content, and give traditional pay TV providers a run for their money.

Netflix

Netflix is the standard-bearer of streaming. There’s a solid selection at all times, with new titles exchanged for older ones monthly. And there’s Netflix original programming to take into account, too. It’s the only place to get your fix of shows like Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, and Luke Cage.

The $7.99-per-month plan is for one standard-definition stream. For two concurrent HD streams (two people watching from the same account at the same time), it’s now $9.99 for new members. For $11.99, you can get up to four concurrent streams and support for 4K content. Netflix is available on a variety of devices, from your PC and tablet to the Chromecast and game consoles. And you can now download content for offline viewing. The company’s DVD service still exists if you want newer releases, but Netflix has long said that streaming is its primary focus going forward.

(Available on Android, iOS, and Web)

Amazon Video

Standalone Amazon Video will set you back $8.99 per month, but if you plan to stick with it for more than a year, you might as well swing for Amazon Prime, which includes Amazon Video—not to mention Amazon Photos, Amazon Music, and a number of other Amazon-centric perks—for $99 per year.

Prime Video Streaming LabelAmazon has about 40,000 titles to stream, but only a fraction of those are included with Prime streaming. Look for the “Prime” banner atop selections that stream for free. Everything else is available to purchase or rent (for Prime and non-Prime members).

Amazon also enables offline downloads, so if you haven’t finished watching Transparent or want to catch up on some older HBO shows for your next flight, just download to your tablet and get watching.

In 2015, Amazon also launched the Streaming Partners Program, which lets you add networks like Showtime and Starz to your Prime account for a slight discount (save $2 per month on Showtime via Amazon vs. buying on its own, for example).

Amazon Video does not work with Google’s Chromecast, but it’s available on Roku, as well as Amazon’s own Fire TV devices, smart TVs, and more. At WWDC, Apple announced it will soon arrive on Apple TV, too. Prime Video supports two concurrent streams, as long as you’re watching different videos.

(Available on Android, iOS, and Web)

Hulu  

Hulu has done away with its free, ad-supported tier. For full seasons of current and classic TV series, as well as original content, you’ll have to subscribe for $7.99 per month.

Hulu appUnlike Netflix and Amazon, which typically get new TV series months or even a year after their TV debuts, Hulu gets content almost immediately after airing on TV thanks to its big studio backers. One of the drawbacks, however, is that Hulu still includes ads. An ad-free tier costs $11.99 per month, though some popular shows will have 15-second pre-roll and 30-second post-roll ads.

If you’re on the fence, you can get Showtime for $8.99 per month with a Hulu bundle and save $2 per month. You can also add HBO or Showtime to your Hulu account for $14.99 and $9.99 per month, respectively, but that won’t save you any money; it’s just convenient to not have to switch apps.

Hulu is supported on a number of gadgets, but you can only stream to one device at a time. You can’t yet download content for offline viewing, though that is reportedly in the works.

Hulu recently released a live TV option, named simply Hulu With Live TV. It starts at $39.99 per month and is currently in beta, but already its value and the sheer amount of content available earns it our Editors’ Choice for live streaming TV services. Watch on two screens simultaneously or upgrade to unlimited streams for another $14.99.

(Available on Android, iOS, and Web)

PlayStation Vue  

If you’re a PlayStation fan who’s cutting the cord, Sony’s PlayStation Vue live-streaming service is a good way to ditch your cable company while keeping plenty of channels. Plans start at $39.99 per month for live TV with 45+ channels, including Disney and ESPN. Add sports, movie, and premium packages and prices will range from $45/month up to $75/month.

Sony PlayStation Vue on iOSPS Vue started in only a few markets, but went national last year. Channel availability varies by market, though, so check your location before signing up. “In some cases where a live local broadcast channel isn’t available, an alternative On-Demand channel will be available in its place,” Sony says.

You can DVR PS Vue content, except HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax, though “almost all programs” from the live feed of those channels are available on demand. DVR and on-demand content can be watched inside or outside the home, except CBS shows, which are only accessible inside the home.

The service supports up to five streams at once, but there are exceptions, like only one PS4 or PS3 can stream at a given time (you can’t stream from a PS4 in the living room and the bedroom at the same time) and only three streams at once on mobile devices. You can watch on a variety of devices, like your web browser, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Chromecast, and iOS or Android devices—provided you have internet access.

YouTube TV  

YouTube TV also provides live TV streaming, but it’s thus far limited to Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

If you live in one of those cities, though, you get unlimited cloud DVR storage. YouTube will keep your recordings for nine months, and you can stream your content from anywhere in the US, if you’re connected to the internet (and you sign in from a home network once every three months to verify your location).

One YouTube TV membership supports up to six accounts, so you can share with family or roommates, though you can only stream from three accounts at once.

As you see, there’s a wide world of streaming services beyond Netflix and Hulu. Just choose one to meet your demands. Hope this article is helpful anyhow.

Source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2489103,00.asp

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