Streaming services are becoming the new way in which visual content is consumed by the masses. Even traditional television channels are moving online offering applications for various devices to allow users to access their favorite content on the go. However, this the demand for streaming content has grown so sharply, there has been a plethora of services introduced to the market.
Viewership statistics around the world are staggering. Streaming services are finally beginning to churn in profits and the market is expected to be worth almost $125 billion by 2025. The industry is growing at a staggering 19.6% per year. This is thanks to services like Netflix which accounted for 15% of all internet traffic in 2019 and it is just one of the many streaming platforms available today.
Here we are going to compare some of the leading services available today:
There is no doubt about the fact that Netflix is currently the undisputed king of the streaming world. With presence in every country around the world and a little more than 158 million subscribers, Netflix is the dominating force and the benchmark that all others are trying to beat. A regular Netflix plan starts at $8.99 a month and allows users access to more than 10,000 titles that include original content as well as movies from a wide variety of genres.
Anyone who has the slightest inclination towards streaming lands on Netflix first but the growing competition is causing them to lose some great shows like Friends, which will leave when HBO Max launches in 2020 and The Office which will be exclusively available on NBC’s Peacock. These developments can make users question whether to get Netflix now or not.
2. Amazon Prime Video
Owned by the eCommerce giant Amazon, Prime Video came on to the scene quite later than Netflix but it has been able to make some significant ground due to some original content and added shopping as well as shipping benefits that it provides to users of Amazon. Prime Video’s library is expanding but its no where near as extensive as that of Netflix.
Amazon subscription prices start at $12.99 a month which is a tad bit higher than that of Netflix but Amazon Prime Video makes up for this through the discounts and privileges that it offers on other related platforms. Another area where Amazon falls short is availability. It is only available in 17 countries compared to Netflix’s 194 nations.
The only reason Crackle is on the list is because it is owned by Sony. The service is completely free but offers just a small library that plays in poor quality spoiling the entire experience for the users. Also, the content follows a rotating format which means that a show or movie will be there one month but then it disappears the next month. Crackle is one service that adds no value and it won’t hurt skipping it completely.
4. Disney Plus
Disney is by far one of the biggest media houses and entertainment conglomerates in the world. Recently, they jumped on to the streaming bandwagon with their dedicated service called Disney+. On the first day of its launch, Disney+ was able to rake in more than 10 million subscribers from around the world. Disney is part of the company that owns the MCU and all the movies and TV shows related to it will begin. The regular package for Disney is just $6.99.
5. HBO Now and HBO Go
HBO is home to Game of Thrones, The Wire and Silicon Valley. These three shows alone are good enough to help it secure a spot in the list of best streaming services. HBO offers two different subscriptions to its customers. HBO Go is absolutely free but only if you have a paid cable subscription for the channel. If you don’t, the other option is HBO Now. The service costs $15 a month and offers access to the entire HBO library. If HBO hosts your favorite shows, then this is the service you need to have.
The streaming services we discussed as of now feature content from their own channels or other original productions but Hulu is different. It offers a video on demand service and a separate plan which allows access to Live TV. Some of the noteworthy shows on Hulu include Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons and South Park. Channels whose content features on the app include NBC, Fox and Comedy Central. The two options from Hulu, i.e. the video on demand service and the Live TV cost $5.99 and $40 respectively. It is the only service beside YouTube that is available for Nintendo Switch too.
7. iTunes / Google Play Store
Although these don’t necessarily dub as streaming services, we had to feature them because they offer a huge library of TV shows and movies. The library is accessible to everyone but you have to make a payment and buy each show individually. iTunes is exclusively for iOS and Google Play Store is only for Android. These services are ideal if you don’t watch that many TV shows or movies because buying them one by one can otherwise cost an enormous amount of money.
8. PlayStation Vue
Since everyone was doing it, PlayStation couldn’t have held back. The good thing about PlayStation Vue is that it offers high-definition viewing and connection for up to five devices at the same time. It is available for platforms like Apple and Android TV, Chromecast and mobile platforms etc. It features content from channels like HBO, Showtime and NFL Redzone. It is a great service but for those who can find the content they regularly watch on the service.
9. Sling TV
Sling is another Hulu alternative which offers a huge selection of TV channels that are split between three packages that cost between $25 and $40. Featured channels include CNN, ESPN, Disney Chanel, NBC, Fox, Cartoon Network and a lot more besides. It is the ultimate viewing experience that also provides videos-on-demand a host of other features to go with each package. However, it doesn’t come without limitations which are in terms of the channels as well as other content that the service is not licensed to air.
10. YouTube TV
Last but not the least is YouTube TV. Allowing a staggering 6 simultaneous streams it is by far the most extensive streaming solution. However, it lies last on the list for a number of reasons. One, it is fairly expensive at $40 a month. You do get as many as 60 channels for that price but the service is available for the US only at the moment. There are also chances that the channels available may not have the content that you prefer watching.
Describing any streaming service as ‘best’ is impossible because how viewers elaborate that term differs. The service is ‘best’ when it offers the content that a person is used to watching and does all of it in one place. This is why Netflix has by far the biggest subscriber base of any of these services although it doesn’t offer live channels. There are people around the world who hold multiple subscriptions for different services because their viewing habit necessitate it. So, what service is ‘best’ for you all comes down to personal preferences.
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