March 31, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has everyone spending much more time watching TV. If you’re looking to expand your TV options, or if you want to ditch cable and try a cloud-based service instead, there are many options to choose from.
Cloud TV allows customers maximum flexibility in taking their preferred programming on the go at any time they choose. Cloud TV generally works in the same way as other cloud-based services, meaning that information and programming are stored on remote servers that allow users to access and stream or download media through any suitable internet connection at any time. With the advent of cloud technology, many new cloud-based TV platforms are appearing to address growing consumer demand. In this post, we look at the top five platforms in the industry today.
YouTube TV has the powerful advantage of taking advantage of the familiarity and popularity of YouTube and its powerful presence for many years as the go-to video sharing platform. In addition to the millions and millions of user-generated videos available for streaming on YouTube, YouTube TV offers live streaming of multiple TV channels.
YouTube TV also capitalizes on consumer familiarity in its user interface. With some intuitive modifications, it operates in the same simple way as always.
Depending on your local area, YouTube TV offers local station programming for most networks. The platform also includes most major sports networks, although the NFL Network is not currently part of YouTube TV’s programming.
YouTube TV currently costs $49.99 per month, and several network add-ons like Showtime and Starz are available, usually at less than $10 per month.
YouTube TV subscriptions also include access to YouTube Premium, which includes original programming and some special features like ad-free streaming and YouTube Music Premium. YouTube TV’s original programming has not been as active or critically acclaimed as some other platforms, but the company claims dedication to investing heavily in original offerings.
The original industry giant for streaming TV remains near the top of the list for almost all streaming TV viewers. In about a decade, Netflix transitioned from a highly disruptive DVD rental service to a streaming service, and now to an industry leader in highly popular original productions.
While Netflix is not a complete replacement for a cable or satellite subscription, there original programming and offerings of other very popular and highly re-watchable content make it an essential add-on for cloud-based TV customers everywhere.
Netflix is available on virtually every streaming device currently on the market. It offers three tiers of service, depending on the picture quality and the number of continuous streams a customer wants. Monthly plans run between $8.99 and $15.99.
Netflix also still offers the DVD rental service that put it on the map. For movie fans who enjoy classics that are virtually impossible to find for rental anywhere else, the Netflix inventory remains impressive.
Amazon has a strong history of entering into almost every consumer-based marketplace with force, and Amazon Prime Video has become an extremely popular offering. Like Netflix, Prime Video is not a replacement for a full cable or satellite channel lineup but acts as a great add-on for on-demand entertainment. Amazon’s original programming has become more popular in the last couple of years, although new releases are not nearly as frequent or consistent as Netflix. The service does include a wide variety of old classic and B-movies that many customers enjoy.
The biggest bang for the buck with Prime Video goes to regular Amazon customers. If you are an Amazon Prime subscriber, Amazon Prime Video is part of the package that consists of several features and savings for Amazon customers. As a standalone service, Amazon Prime Video costs from $8.99 to $12.99 per month. If you are not a regular Amazon customer and do not find the other benefits of a Prime subscription valuable, the standalone Prime Video expense may not be worth the cost.
The user interface is intuitive and consistent with traditional Amazon platform use. However, the service does not allow customers to create multiple accounts or profiles under a single subscription, and simultaneous streaming on two devices simultaneously.
Perhaps the fastest-growing platform is Hulu, as newly developed Hulu + Live TV is hitting the “cord-cutting” marketplace powerfully. Hulu has traditionally operated as a streaming service that provided access to most TV shows the day following its original broadcast along with some original programs.
Hulu + Live TV costs $54.99 per month, markets itself as a full replacement for cable or satellite TV subscriptions. Local channel availability varies significantly in some cases from city to city, and prospective customers should check the available lineup carefully. For sports, Hulu currently provides the ESPN networks and the major networks’ sports programming.
Hulu markets aggressively to family customers and allows users to create six personally configured viewer profiles under a single subscription. Simultaneous streaming is allowed on unlimited devices on a subscriber’s home network and up to three devices away from home.
HBO has been the standard-bearer for cable TV movies and original programming for decades. Previously, HBO offered streaming service through HBO GO, which required an active ordinary HBO subscription through a traditional TV provider. HBO NOW is a standalone streaming service that provides HBO’s original programming without a cable or satellite TV subscription.
HBO’s programming, including The Sopranos and Game of Thrones, has placed it at the front of the line for millions of viewers. In addition to original content, HBO NOW includes a rotating selection of movies shown on the network that is available on demand.
HBO NOW costs $14.99 per month, and many cord-cutters find that the cost is comparable or cheaper than the subscription cost of HBO through a cable or satellite provider. HBO NOW is compatible with almost all streaming devices and has a slick and enjoyable interface.
If you are looking for more streaming TV resources, check out our cord-cutting guide.
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