When it comes to finding the best TV streaming service on the market, it can be quite a challenge in this day and age. We’re inundated with choices and if you pick the wrong provider you may not have all the content you hoped you would. Picking the right service to stream through can be a challenge and there are usually quite a few influencing factors that need to be taken into account before deciding. In this guide we’ll talk about the different services on offer and the factors involved, going into what makes them great and each one’s Achilles heel.
First, you’ll need to consider what content you need in your life and what content you want, but isn’t essential to your ideal viewing platform. If you enjoy watching a lot of news, then you won’t get much of it from Amazon Prime or Netflix. Conversely, if you can live without news, both Prime and Netflix can be a wonderful option that has a lot of pluses we’ll discuss later on. There are other things that matter though, like price, user experience (UX), types of content and any exclusive you won’t find on the others.
When considering price, the best idea is to set out a budget that you can afford to spend on TV, because if subscribing to more than one of the best tv streaming services is affordable then there’s no reason not to. On the other hand, if you need to watch your spending it might be wise to stick to one and rotate every few months so you can get through everything on each that you want to watch eventually. All prices are correct at the time of writing (accounting for price hikes).
When we cover the types of content, we’ll be talking about movies, TV series, news, sports, documentaries and other online streaming content. If you can’t live without live streaming news, this can limit your options but there are definitely options available.
Netflix is a world-renowned mainstay in the TV streaming service industry. They’ve been around for over 2 decades at this point and were the pioneers for the industry.
Portability, pricing, amount of content and original content are all competitive with Netflix.
Netflix has 3 plans, all of which give you access to the entire content library available in your country.
The cheapest “basic” plan comes in at $8.99, giving you 1 non-HD stream. The “standard” plan comes in at $12.99 and allows up to 2 HD (1080p) streams at once. Their “premium” plan comes in at $15.99 and enables up to 4 simultaneous streams with 4K enabled content where the content is available in 4K. All in all, it’s a lot more cost-effective than traditional cable/satellite options.
No live content at all with Netflix. To counterbalance that, Netflix releases some of its content at a rate of one episode a day. When you’re accustomed to binging seasons in a day, you can find yourself climbing the walls when left on a cliff-hanger. 0 channels, but plenty of on-demand content.
There’s definitely a lot of ideal features for Netflix that make it obvious why it’s a world-class choice. Not going to be the best move if you need live content, but if you can live without it, then you can’t live without Netflix.
When it comes to Amazon Prime, the amount of benefits available are plentiful and I can’t begin to name them all, but when it comes to Prime Video, there’s a lot more content than anyone could expect for the price.
While the UI on Prime Video can be a bit clunky at times, with a frustrating need to back out and go right to the top to access the search function, it has just as much portability as competitors with it being accessible on TVs, Consoles, Phones, Tablets and PCs.
When it comes to Prime membership there are two ways to pay. The first is in a $113 lump sum, or if you don’t have the cash for an up-front payment, $12.99 monthly fees are used.
If you don’t want to be tied down, just pay monthly until you’re sure you want it for a full year and then take advantage of the discount. If you just want a stand-alone Prime Video membership, you’ll be paying $8.99 a month.
Live sports and some local channels are the only available live content from Prime. To make up for that, there are thousands upon thousands of TV series, movies and documentaries spanning lots of genres in a plethora of languages. 100+ subscribable channels for extra fees, but 0 channels included.
If you enjoy lots of great blockbusters, lots of functionality and the ability to rent or buy more content, then Prime Video is a wonderful addition to any entertainment selection. Originals are some of the most inventive shows out there.
Hulu has been streaming video content under a subscription model for almost 10 years. In that time, Hulu has grown to over 28million subscribers and features a lot of the most up to date content that can be found through online streaming services.
The biggest obstacle that Hulu faces as a business is only being accessible to users in the U.S. and Japan. Like Netflix and Prime Video, there are no hidden fees or contracts to worry about, so it’s definitely in contention for the best TV streaming service in the U.S. for quality.
The UX on Hulu is unsurprisingly gorgeous given the price tags involved. The on-demand section alone is relatively competitive, especially if you can tolerate ads to save $6 a month.
The pricing at Hulu is competitive if you’re willing to put up with ads, where the on-demand only portion is just $5.99 a month. If you can’t tolerate ads then you’ll be looking at $11.99, which is similar to Netflix but more expensive than Amazon Prime as a standalone. But is the on-demand section worth it in comparison to Netflix and Prime?
For the live-TV portion, Ad-supported is $44.99 instead of $50.99 otherwise. It doesn’t end there however, with additions like HBO costing $14.99, DVR capacity upgrade costing $9.99, Showtime costing $10.99 and other add-ons being able to send the price far above competitors who, for the same price, include both HBO and Showtime in the price.
All in all, Hulu is pretty damn spectacular, but only if you can afford all the bells and whistles. Ideal for sports fans and news junkies but definitely not budget friendly if you’re looking for a complete on-demand and live viewing experience. Best in show for broadness of offerings and most current content, worst so far for pricing and the value for money is debatable given price differences for ads.
HBO has been around for decades and is a household name the world over. Both HBO Go and HBO Now actually have the same content, the only difference is that Go is added onto a traditional cable package and Now can be purchased as a standalone.
With a clear and concise UX that makes it easy for both browsing and searching, HBO has definitely nailed the execution of it’s Now app. To add more desirability, the show is released on-demand on Now at almost the same time as it releases the episode for first-run broadcasting.
At $14.99 a month for HBO Now, you can’t really fault it. With access to everything at one price, there’s a definite feeling of fairness that Prime Video doesn’t always have.
None. No live HBO TV for HBO Now subscribers, but the on-demand content can keep you busy for a long time. If you love sports or news, avoid this platform because there’s little to nothing that will scratch your itch.
HBO Now is a very attractive proposition, especially at $14.99 a month. The HBO Originals make it worth getting the Now app at some point anyway, even if you only use it to watch/re-watch the likes of Game of Thrones and Silicon Valley.
When you see Playstation Vue, you might think it’s primarily for Playstation users. If you thought this like I did, you’d be wrong too.
Don’t get me wrong it’s definitely available on Sony consoles, but it’s also supported on just about anything that isn’t an Xbox. Sony have definitely got a wide range of packages with the cheapest being almost identically priced to Hulu’s ad-supported model.
Another nice UX with high portability with the PS Vue app being supported on the majority of non-Microsoft platforms. A wide selection of news channels for the viewers that love current events is a big plus here though, as PS Vue may have the widest selection of news available among competing providers.
Playstation Vue has a variety of packages, one for every type of streamer.
Right from the Access package you’ll get a broad and basic experience across all genres, including a little bit of on-demand. ABC, NBC and Fox on demand are available along with Animal Planet, BBC America, Bravo, Cartoon Network, Cozi TV, Destination America, ESPN, Food Network, Fox Business, Fox News and SYFY are all accessible for just $45 monthly.
The core package is very rewarding for sports fans, including the likes of MLB, NBA and NFL Network channels which gives viewers the chance to stay up to date on the best American sports across the board. Soccer fans may want Fox Soccer Plus at an extra $13 a month. This step up gives a few other channels like the cooking channel, but is mostly tailored to sports fans.
The elite package adds everything in the repertoire that isn’t HBO and Showtime, which is only included in the ultra. MotorTrend, Hallmark Movies, Hallmark Drama, Fusion, Discovery Life, Discovery Family and CNBC World are among the added channels.
The ultra, as mentioned above, includes HBO and Showtime along with their respective on-demand apps. Offers a saving of $6 a month when compared with getting them separately.
Between 45-90 live TV channels up for grabs depending on the selected package.
Playstation is a solid contender for the highest quality selection of large shows but it’s an expensive proposition with all the bells and whistles.
Youtube originally started as a website where users could create channels and upload videos, where people could then view them at any time and subscribe to channels. Over the next decade YouTube evolved into much more than that.
Recently, Youtube started offering YouTube TV. Designed to be a replacement for traditional cable TV services, it gives access to local channels and has DVR just like traditional packages.
Much like YouTube.com, the UX with YouTube TV is easy on the eyes and highly accessible. It might come as a shock, but with a base price of $49.99, it doesn’t come with AMC which is an American TV staple.
At $49.99 for YouTube TV, it’s hard to see why potential customers wouldn’t go elsewhere and it’s easier to see why their subscriber numbers pale in comparison to that of Hulu and PS Vue.
If you’re paying through iTunes, you’ll be charged $54.99 instead.
YouTube TV is an expensive option, and the value for money doesn’t seem to be there yet. There’s hope for this TV streaming service later down the line because it’s still in its infancy in comparison to the likes of Hulu plus Live TV. A sad fact is since it increased the price to $50 a month, you’d be better off with PS Vue as the content offerings are still better for live TV.
When you’ve set your budget, see if you can mix and match for better quality. Look at the example below:
PS Vue (Core) – $49.99 + Amazon Prime Video – $8.99 = $58.98 which is fantastic value for money. YouTube = $49.99 which would need a lot of add-ons that would cost $20+ per month to come close.
For those of you that can live without news, live TV and live sports, Netflix and Prime Video combined offer the best value for money. If you need live TV, sports and/or news fans will get their best experience from PS Vue (Core).
Hulu plus Live TV is the most balanced platform between live TV and on-demand content.
There are a handful of options around, and today we’ve covered the best of the best. Now it all boils down to what you want to watch.
A: Usually, you’ll need about 2.5mb/s to stream on-demand content comfortably and you’ll need about 5mb/s for comfortable live viewing.
A: Consider what’s most important to you, if you value sport or news above all else, go PS Vue. If you’re picky and want lots of on-demand to choose from, add Prime or Netflix. For a middle-ground, choose Hulu.
A: Short answer, yes. Just make sure the other site you want to use it on uses HBO Now and not HBO Go.