Gone are the days of movie and television rental stores. It seems the new norm has become at-home or on-the-go viewing of movies and television through streaming services on television and mobile devices.
Not only are streaming services convenient, many can be extremely cost-effective (especially considering the cost of purchasing a single movie can run you around $13 each). Whether you’re a movie buff or sports enthusiast, the options in video streaming services are numerous. Viewpoints is now collecting reviews of video streaming services to help you learn the pros and cons of each. If you have experience with any of the below, please share your feedback by writing a review:
TV & Movies
Amazon Instant Video
Amazon Instant Video is a feature of the Amazon Prime Subscription which costs $79 per year, or just under $7 per month. In addition to unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows, the subscription allows you to rent one free Kindle book per month and offers free 2-day shipping on millions of items.
Although the service doesn’t offer the same variety of shows and movies that Netflix does, the low cost and additional benefits (free 2-day shipping and Kindle rentals) might be reason enough for you to try it out. Amazon Student offers the same benefits as Amazon Prime at $39 per year to students.
Crackle is one of the free movie streaming service options available.
Crackle offers free, on-demand, streaming movies and television shows as well as some original content. The range of movies seems somewhat limited, but I don’t doubt if you searched around you could find something that fits your liking. At no cost and with a free app that allows you to take the movies with you on most devices, there really is no reason not to try the service out.
EPIX is a television movie channel, an on-demand service as well as movie website available through some, but not all, television providers. With the purchase of the service (or in some cases, it may already be bundled with your cable package), it is available for play on many mobile devices.
The channel features some big name movies and numerous other genres as well as some original content. Though the channel offers only movies for watch, the added ability to watch on your laptop and most mobile devices is an added incentive.
HBO Go offers some major movies as well as classics but primarily targeted towards those who watch HBO original shows such as Girls and Game of the Thrones. The service is only available for those who are subscribers of the HBO through their television provider, thus the cost varies anywhere around $15 to $20 per month.
The cost is still more reasonable than purchasing full season DVD’s or downloads from iTunes, and another plus is the television show is immediately available after it airs, no waiting necessary.
Hulu Plus, the premium version of the online streaming service, is offered at $8 per month and may be best for those mainly interested in prime time TV shows and sitcoms such as Modern Family, Parks and Recreation and The Office. The premium service also offers movies, most of which are not major or current.
- iTunes offers movie purchases and rentals as well as TV shows and music, all playable on your iTunes-enabled device.
iTunes is essentially a movie, TV show and music store where you can purchase music, movies, episodes and even seasons of television shows to have with you forever on any of your iTunes-enabled devices. Users can also rent movies or television shows from the service and view full episodes of selected shows for free.
The costs of purchasing or renting varies by title. Newly released films can cost around $15, while rentals of older movies may cost $5. You can also purchase single episodes or season passes to various television shows.
Netflix allows users to stream unlimited television shows and movies on any internet-enabled device for the monthly price of $8. If you prefer, you can alternatively choose to have DVDs sent to you for a monthly price of $8 (the service costs an extra $2 if you choose to receive Blu-Ray discs to your subscription). Netflix offers many popular movies and TV shows, both new and old; some of the more popular television shows include Mad Men and Breaking Bad.
One potential downside is that not all shows and movies offered through Netflix DVDs or Blu-Ray discs are available through its Netflix streaming service. The service offers a free one-month trial to new users if you wish to test out the options before committing.
Redbox offers standalone video rental “vending” machines in locations across the United States. In addition, the company is now offering streaming services for $6 per month for unlimited video streaming and also an $8 plan that offers unlimited streaming as well as four one-night DVD rental credits at the physical locations.
The new online streaming service, however, offers only movies for streaming and does not currently have the same variety or quantity of movies as Netflix.
VUDU is a service similar to Redbox, but its completely online — meaning you can rent movies or TV shows for two nights at a time. This would be a good option for those who aren’t frequent movie watchers, allowing you to rent a movie for about 4 to 6 dollars, depending on the playback quality you select.
VUDU can get pricey, however, when you are looking to watch a full season of a show and the only option is to pay $2-$3 to own the episode (there is no renting option for television shows on VUDU). The service does allow playback on most devices such as laptops and game consoles but strangely not on the iPhone (although iPad use is an option).
There are also several services tailored to the sports fan. We’ll cover those in my next blog post. Stay tuned!
Editor’s note: If you have professional experience with video streaming services, Viewpoints is recruiting experts in priority product categories to write for our blog. Check out this overview of the Viewpoints Category Expert Program, including qualifications, compensation and how to apply.