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Best Video Streaming Service: Hulu Plus vs Netflix vs Amazon Prime

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Girl watching streaming media on laptopCable TV bills can run as high as $120 or more per month!! Sure, cable companies have “basic packages,” but the channels they offer are never the ones you want, right? This forces you to upgrade packages at a premium price. After spending way too much on cable, you’ve likely become frustrated and want to cut the cord. Video streaming services are less expensive than cable or satellite TV and technology is advancing so that you can watch TV without paying such a high price.

Best Streaming Media Players

An easy way to to watch your video through your streaming service is on a media streaming player. Some popular ones you may have heard of include Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast. Devices like these integrate with services like Netflix, Hulu and more so you can watch your video on your TV instead of always watching on a smaller screen like a tablet or computer. Check out our article on the best streaming media players and find out their pros, cons, pricing and what you can watch on them.

What is the Best Video Streaming Service Terminology?

Below are some terms you’ll want to familiarize yourself with regarding bandwidth speeds and screen resolutions:

  • HD – HD means High Definition or the pixelation the video uses to display (720 or 1080 pixels per line). More pixels means a higher quality picture. HD is preferred over SD.
  • SD – SD means Standard Definition, which is video displayed at 480 pixels per line. HD offers better image quality than SD because the total number of pixels displayed is higher.
  • KBPS – KBPS stands for kilobits per second. The higher the number, the faster the speed.
  • MBPS – MBPS stands for megabits per second. 1mbps = 1000kbps, therefore 1mbps is larger than 1kbps.

Best Streaming Movie Service – Netflix Review

Netflix

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Netflix is great for movie enthusiasts because it has a wide variety of new, old, foreign, indie and original videos to watch. Netflix also has a massive library of television shows that have ended so you can binge watch an entire TV show in a weekend. You can create different accounts for one login so multiple family members can use it. There’s an entire section dedicated to children’s movies and TV shows too. The recommended bandwidth is 500kbps in order to get maximum results.

Pros

Cons

  • Netflix for Kids
  • Premium account allows up to 4 screens to watch at the same time on 1 account
  • Full TV series
  • Old and new movies
  • Award-winning original content like Orange Is The New Black and House Of Cards
  • Lots of foreign films
  • No advertisements while watching content
  • No Game of Thrones

Price

  • 1 month free trial
  • Basic – $7.99/month
  • Standard – $8.99/month
  • Premium – $11.99/month

Best Streaming Service For TV Shows – Hulu Plus Review

Hulu Plus logo

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Hulu Plus offers TV shows as well as older films. They typically post new TV episodes the day after they air so you can keep up on your favorite big name shows. Their focus is more on what’s currently popular on prime time TV. Episodes “expire” so you won’t always be able to watch any episode at any time (it’s only posted for a period of time). If you want to stay up to date on current TV shows, then Hulu Plus is the way to go. Other video streaming services only show old episodes. They also have recently launched a few original series and we expect they will continue to add to their lineup in the coming years. The base version, Hulu, allows you to access limited content for free without signing up for an account but you’ll need to pay the monthly fee for most shows. For SD, you’ll need a bandwidth of 1.5mbps and for HD you’ll need 3mbps.

Pros

Cons

  • New shows are typically put online the day after they air
  • Great for those who don’t have cable since there’s a wide selection
  • Easy way to catch up on current TV shows
  • Commercials break up the content
  • The Walking Dead is not on Hulu Plus
  • Mainly old or independent films, which could be a pro if that’s what you like

Price

  • 1 week free trial
  • $7.99/month
  • Pay an additional $8.99/month for SHOWTIME

 

Other Video Streaming Services

Check out some of the other best video streaming services available.

Amazon Prime | CrackleHBO GO | HBO NOW | PlayStation Vue | Sling TVVudu

Amazon Prime Review

Amazon Prime logo

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Amazon Prime isn’t just a video streaming service. In addition to blockbuster films and popular TV shows, you also have access to more than 1 million songs and more than 500,000 free ebooks as well as 2 day free shipping on amazon.com purchases. (Note: Not all items on Amazon are eligible for Prime shipping. The Prime logo must be marked next to videos, books and other items.). With Amazon Prime, you get a lot of things at the same price as other video streaming services. So if you are a frequent shopper (or reader) this may be a good choice for you because it has tons of benefits. Amazon is best for watching newer releases that you can rent at a low price. Often you can watch movies at home for a lower price than what it costs in theaters.Amazon also won several Golden Globe awards this year for their original series “Transparent”. Minimum Internet bandwidth requirements are 900kbps for SD and 3.5mbps for HD.

Pros

Cons

  • 40,000 movies and TV shows
  • Watch on Fire HD, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, game consoles, smart TVs, smartphones and more
  • Golden Globe winning original series: “Transparent”
  • Unlimited photo and music storage
  • Access to movies, music and Kindle books
  • Free 2 day shipping from Amazon for you and anyone else with an Amazon account at your address
  • Only available in the U.S.
  • Bad for local retailers because you’ll buy things from Amazon more than the local shops

Price

  • 30 day free trial
  • 6 month free trial for students
  • $99/year

Learn More About Amazon Prime

Crackle Review

Crackle

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Crackle is owned by Sony and consists mainly of Sony movies and TV shows, although they do offer content from other film distributors. They also offer original productions like “Trenches” and “The Bannen Way”. The biggest benefit of using Crackle is that it’s completely free; however, with the lower selection it may be hard to find the content that you want to watch. Your Internet connection speed should be 200kbps or more if you plan to use Crackle.

Pros

Cons

  • FREE
  • Don’t have to create an account
  • Available in U.S.A. and Canada
  • Doesn’t have the newest movies and TV shows
  • Tons of advertisements on the site and while content is playing
  • Small selection (about 250 movies and 50 TV shows)
  • No HD

Price

Crackle is completely free.

HBO GO Review

HBO GO logo

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HBO GO gives you unlimited access to HBO movies and shows. They have a variety of content including comedy specials, sports, blockbuster movies, documentaries and more. HBO shows are released on HBO GO the day after they air including Girls, Looking and more. You’d think they would air at the same time since it’s HBO content, but they don’t. HBO GO requires a 3 Mbps connection for HD content.

Pros

Cons

  • Create custom “watch lists” to save content for later or get a “season pass” and be notified when new episodes are ready
  • TV shows are released a day after they air
  • Known for their original documentaries
  • Must have cable (we suspect this will change soon)
  • Limited number of users can access at once
  • Everything is HBO content except for movies
  • Some content expires (usually a 4-8 week watching window)

Price

  • Free with HBO subscription

HBO NOW Review

HBO Now logo

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HBO NOW was released in April 2015 and you do not need cable for HBO NOW. The content on HBO NOW is strictly HBO and some blockbuster movies. Every season of popular award \-winning HBO programs is available. Since they are still in the beginning stages they are not available on many devices.

Pros

Cons

  • Includes every episode of every season of HBO’s award-winning original programs
  • Includes some Hollywood blockbusters
  • Programming is available at the same time it premieres
  • Only available on Apple TV, iOS, laptops and desktops (through browsers)

Price

  • 30 day free trial
  • $14.99/month

PlayStation Vue Review

PlayStation logo

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PlayStation Vue offers live and pre-recorded TV viewing so you can replace your cable package with this but live TV is only available in larger markets (see details in Cons below). It is still in the early stages and is only available in full in 7 cities so if you want to drop the $50 and you live in one of the available cities you can try it. But if you go for one of the upper level packages you may want to just keep your cable package since it gets a little pricey.

Pros

Cons

  • Popular channels offered
  • 50+ channels
  • Now available without a PlayStation (Roku, Amazon Fire TV, iOS, Android, PS3, PS4
  • Expensive
  • Live service is only available in Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas and Miami

Price

  • Access: $49.99/month
    • 50+ live TV, movies and sports channels
  • Core: $59.99/month
    • More local sports, channels and shows
  • Elite: $69.99/month
    • Shows from the best channels

Sling TV Review

Sling TV logo

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Sling TV is great for those who don’t want to pay the expensive prices associated with cable. With Sling TV you have access to live TV for a lower price, you can cancel whenever you want and view content on most Internet-enabled devices. Sling TV is fairly new (released February 2015) so we can’t warrant it a top spot, but it looks to be a promising service.

Pros

Cons

  • Access to live TV including sports, prime time TV shows, movies and breaking news
  • Watch on phone, tablet, computer, game consoles and smart televisions
  • Includes 15 channels
  • Add on interest specific packages for an extra $5/month
  • New service so they may be working out some quirks

Price

  • 7 day free trial
  • $20/month
  • Additional $5/month each: Sports Extra, News & Info Extra and Kids Extra

Vudu Review

Vudu logo

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Vudu is similar to iTunes rentals. Instead of paying for a subscription you pay per rental/purchase. You can rent or buy movies in SD or HD. Vudu is owned by Walmart and may be clicking in your head right now because when you purchase a DVD or Blu-ray you are sometimes given a digital copy. You can download your digital copy onto Vudu so you have access to it digitally. The price can go up quickly because if you like to watch lots of movies you have to pay for each individual rental or purchase, so two Vudu rentals can add up to a month subscription to Netflix. For HD streaming, 3mbps is required and for SD streaming 1mbps is needed.

Pros

Cons

  • No subscription needed
  • Download your digital copies to Vudu’s platform
  • Offers TV shows and movies
  • U.S. only
  • If you watch a lot of movies it is more expensive than some other services

Price

Vudu’s pricing is a “pay as you rent/buy” model. So price varies depending on how much you buy.

What Are Your TV Preferences?

Are you a movie fanatic, or do you prefer to keep up on your favorite TV shows? Or maybe you like to binge watch an entire TV series. Which service is best for you really depends on what your viewing preferences are.

Which streaming media service do you like most and why?

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Kimberly researches everything before she buys. She wants to make sure she is getting the best bang for her buck by purchasing the best product/service, which is why she loves her work. She has a degree in Multimedia Journalism and has been researching and writing professionally since 2013 to help consumers make more educated decisions.

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15 Comments on "Best Video Streaming Service: Hulu Plus vs Netflix vs Amazon Prime"

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Chick1970
Chick1970

Do all of these have the ability to be downloaded and watched offline?

Marie Ferraz
Marie Ferraz

A few quick questions from someone not very technologically inclined:
1. What do you use to stream these services – Roku? Is that a totally separate discussion?
2. Can you still use a DVR or Tivo with any of these services?
3. Do any of these services allow you to fast forward through ads?

Cat Larkin
Cat Larkin

The one thing these articles leave out is that, for most of us, we are still tied to Comcast or Verizon for our internet (at least on east coast). they make their base internet too slow for streaming, and the next jump up is only $20 cheaper than that with basic TV. Like Comcast is currently around $75 for decent internet speeds, THEN you are buying all of these other streaming options on top of that. their step up from basic TV plus fast internet is like $95. That said – this is a very useful article – would love to see update as too improvements on Sling TV options. Thanks

Tamara Liggins
Tamara Liggins

Do an update on the differences now. I think Sling Blue (beta multistream) and PS Vue (available in more cities, live TV and sport) are now the best contenders since you also get TV Everywhere access it comes in handy for those that use mostly Apple products. For PS Vue, invest in a used PS3 or PS4, the savings will outweigh. You only need it for activation or if a localization update is needed. I have Sling, PS Vue and Amazon Prime (have the card so the 5% and free shipping outweigh the video content for me) I cut the cord a year ago and only kept the cable internet.

jim ledford
jim ledford

Hulu, lol, Netflix, #1

Shaw Wakefield
Shaw Wakefield

Thanks for sharing Kimberly! I love Hulu especially because I can watch the latest episodes 1 day after they air. If you live outside USA like me, you can use UnoTelly or other similar tools to access Hulu Plus overseas.

notsofastnow
notsofastnow

These are spurious comparisons — each streaming service offers different things. I subscribe to Hulu for the Criterion Collection and library of drive in movie science fiction. I subscribe to Netflix for more mainstream fare. And I’m a member of Amazon Prime for the shipping. Video is a bonus. I subscribe to Sling mainly to have access to sports. Since I cut the cable, I consider these costs minor after having to swallow a $165 a month Comcast bill.

Ruben Martinez
Ruben Martinez

Hi, I’d like to ask if you are able to watch pro sports? MLB, NFL & NBA as I am looking to cut the cable. Thanks.

Tricksforums
Tricksforums

Awesome article.

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