Guide to Streaming Services
The way we watch TV and movies has definitely changed over the years! Video streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime make it possible to watch our favorite TV shows and movies “on demand” whenever we want – from our laptops, tablets and smartphones.
With so many streaming services and options to choose from – like "live" streaming (similar to cable) and access to channels like Disney, ESPN, local stations and even music – we’ve pulled together a list of some of the most popular services and highlighted some of the options and pricing. Some are even free – like Pluto TV. (Tip: Verify pricing prior to subscribing to the service.)
How to Stream on Your TV
The easiest way to stream on your TV is buying a streaming media player (stick or box) like Roku and Amazon Fire TV. Both are affordable – starting at $30 for Roku and $40 for Amazon Fire TV.
Live Streaming TV & Movies
If you like to watch TV as it’s happening in real time, you’ll want to subscribe to a live streaming service. Like cable and satellite companies, you need to choose the right provider for you. Each of these streaming services offer additional paid channels and a cloud-based DVR. Just like regular TV, the live channels have commercial breaks and in some cases, even if watching the show on the DVR, commercials cannot be skipped.
Hulu + Live TV
Price: $55 per month with access to 60+ network channels.
Local Channels: ABC 15, CBS 5, Fox 10, Fox Sports Arizona and Arizona Plus, My Network TV, Telemundo Arizona, and NBC 12.
Extras: Over 3,000 on-demand shows and movies. Original content only available through Hulu.
Price: $65 per month with access to 70+ network channels.
Local Channels: ABC 15, CBS 5, Fox 10, NBC 12 and 3TV
Extras: A handful of add-on network channels. Over 90 different on-demand shows and movies. Original content only available through YouTube.
Price: Blue (47 channels) or Orange (34 channels) package, $30 per month. Combined (54 channels) packages, $45 per month.
Local Channels: Fox 10
Extras: Add-on packages are available to add customized channels for specific topics such as sports, kids and lifestyle. A small handful of movies and TV shows available for on-demand viewing.
If you don’t need to watch TV programs at the exact time they’re airing or don’t need any local channels, on-demand streaming services are right up your alley. At a fraction of the cost, you gain access to thousands of TV shows and movies, as well as original content only available through the streaming provider.
Companies like Hulu and YouTube, in addition to offering the live TV options described earlier, also offer on-demand only services. Most of the services are the same, minus the live TV options; however, there are a few differences.
Price: $6 per month with ads. $12 per month without ads. Bundle Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for $13 per month.
Content: Over 3,000 different movies and TV shows.
Extras: New episodes of TV shows that are currently on air (available next business day). Original content.
Price: $12 per month.
Content: 100+ different movies and TV shows.
Extras: Ad-free videos for all YouTube.com content. Access to ad-free YouTube Music and Google Play Music (over 40 million songs).
Price: Basic plan, $9 per month; Standard package, $13 per month; Premium package, $16 per month.
Content: Over 7,000 movies and TV shows.
Extras: Offers the most original content of any streaming service.
Amazon Prime Video
Price: Annual Prime Membership rate is $119. The Monthly Prime membership option is $12.99 per month. Student pricing is also available.
Content: Over 20,000 movies and TV shows
Extras: Original content and Amazon Prime benefits (two-day free shipping on Amazon purchases). Unlimited photo cloud storage. Access to over two million songs. Discounts at Whole Foods. Selected audiobooks from Audible for free. See Amazon.com for a complete list of Prime benefits.
Price: $7 per month or $70 annually. Bundle Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for $13 per month
Content: Over 800 movies and TV shows
Extras: Original content, ad-free, all your favorite Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars movies all in the same place.
Other Types of Video Streaming Services
There are many other types of video streaming services out there – some are free but come with ads, like Pluto TV and Tubi. Others are subscription-based services by direct providers such as HBO Now and Apple TV +.
New services such as Peacock TV offers a free account to watch select movies and TV shows, while also offering a paid subscription for premium content.
Like video streaming, there are many different music streaming services available. Unlike video, most of the music services offer free versions of their services, with limited options. To entice you to subscribe to their services, they offer specific perks that become available once subscribed.
Amazon & YouTube
Like mentioned before, subscribing to Amazon Prime or YouTube Premium gives you access to both video and music streaming. Amazon also has a service called Amazon Music Unlimited.
Amazon Music Unlimited
Price: $8 per month or $79 Annually for Prime Members. $10 a month for Non-Prime.
Songs: Over 50 million songs.
Extras: Hundreds of pre-made playlists and stations. Customizable playlists. Integrates directly with Amazon Echo devices.
Price: $5 for students, $10 for individuals and $15 for families.
Songs: Over 50 million songs.
Extras: Integrates directly into all Apple products. Exclusive and original content. Find new music with suggestions from friends. Siri can locate songs by title or by lyrics.
Price: Free with ads; Pandora Plus, $5 per month with no ads; Pandora Premium, $10 ad-free and music on demand.
Songs: Over 30 million songs
Extras: Included with a free account – customizable stations and 100 stations. Included with Plus – everything in the free account plus unlimited stations, unlimited skips and replays, and higher quality audio. Included with Premium – everything in Plus, search and play any song, create playlists and download music.
There are plenty of streaming options available to you. What’s important is finding the right ones that fit you and your family. Don’t go crazy and subscribe to every service, or you may end up falling victim to “subscription fatigue.”
TIP: Take advantage of any free trial periods so you can see what might work best for you. If you’re already an Amazon Prime subscriber, consider taking advantage of everything they already offer, and then filling in the gaps with one or two other services. This should help you get all the streaming entertainment you and your family could ever want!