A Race to the Top: Streaming Video Services Battle for Top Place
Recently, it appears that the entire race has been with streaming video as an entertainment choice for most tech-savvy people on the planet. Netflix has been the trusty old friend who was always available, adding multitudes of new content every month while also shipping DVDs to your home, usually by the next day, for those movies and TV shows that they are not licensed to stream. However, that comfortable feeling vanished as the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011 came and went. With the New Year came new video streaming options available from Netflix for your enjoyment!
Video Streaming Comparison Chart
In addition to Netflix, there was now Hulu Plus and latest come to the party, Amazon Prime Instant Video. Each of these services has its pros and cons, of course. As time goes by, they all grow, and there is a vast array of changes occurring with each as they strive to become more innovative than their competitors with every new press release. It is our pleasure to provide a guide to the ever-growing world of the top three video streaming solutions.
First to arrive on the scene, Netflix began as a DVD mail rental service, offering individual plans at fair prices in order to meet their customers’ needs. In late 2007-early 2008, the company announced and rolled out an instant streaming option for select content on their site. Users were given about one hour of streaming video per dollar paid on their plan. Of course, this new option took off like a rocket, and toward the end of 2008, Netflix lifted the streaming time limit for all plans with the exception of it $4.99/2 DVDs a month-one at a time plan, which has 2 hours of streaming video included. As time marched onward, Netflix kept trying on new features and options, removing those that did not take off that well and keeping those that the users used most often and enjoyed. Then there came their agreement with Starz, which allowed content that was exclusively shown on the Starz network to be made available to the streaming menu and, once again, the company saw an incredible time of growth and prosperity.
There began to be some troubled waters, however, in the summer of 2011 when Netflix made it known that they were investigating splitting the services into two separate companies and services, renaming the DVD rental service and effectively creating two different services with two different sets of subscription options. The Netflix customer base was utterly outraged by this announcement! They began calling, e-mailing, writing and just otherwise bombarding the already slightly confused company with demands that they not make this change. As their customer base viewed the situation, streaming and DVD rental belong as one service. Thankfully, in early October, 2011 they relented.
Netflix Streaming Device Options:
1. Traditional computer or laptop running Windows or Mac
2. iOS devices and handheld phones
3. Set-top boxes such as Roku
4. Video Game Consoles such as Xbox360
5. Internet Ready TV’s
Amazon Prime Instant Video
While the shock was going on over at Netflix Headquarters, Amazon got the impression that perhaps now was time to move on an idea that they had in the pipeline for some time now. Out of almost nowhere, Amazon Prime Instant Video was born! Amazon Prime, for those who might be a little behind the curve right now, is a valuable priority shipping service Amazon began to offer a long time ago. For 79 dollars each year, your family could be upgraded to free second day air shipping on all eligible purchases. This service has enjoyed a marvelous, long standing relationship with its members. Along the way, Prime began to make available video streaming rentals and purchases of digital versions of movies and TV shows that were available. Now that their main competitor was scrambling though…out came the announcement with much FaceBook sharing and Google + posting: Amazon Prime Members now get video streaming for free! That’s right Amazon Prime Members were getting “Netflix-like services”, without paying anything more. This meant that quite a few Netflix members jumped ship to Amazon. As they saw it, there might be less content, but why pay for two of the same service?
Now in all honesty, Amazon’s service has nowhere near the number of movies and TV shows that Netlfix has. However, their selection continues to grow and new options become available for the user. There is little doubt that they will be 100% in line option-wise with its biggest rival and the runner up: Hulu Plus.
Amazon Prime Video Device Options:
1. Traditional computer or laptop running Windows or Mac
2. Television set top boxes such as Roku
3. Internet Ready TVs
4. Android device streaming
Definitely a runner-up in the streaming video race, Hulu Plus would not even have warranted mention with these two well known names if it were not for the deluge of advertising dollars that have recently been spent to bring Hulu Plus into the public eye. It probably sounds as if we have an extreme dislike of Hulu Plus, and honestly the answer to that is, “No”. Hulu Plus service is excellent for keeping in touch with currently running TV shows as well as accessing past episodes of old off air favorites like Babylon 5.
When it comes to a pure numbers game for TV sitcom lovers, Hulu Plus will win out. Offering 16,000+ TV sitcom episodes available for viewing their selection of titles interests even the idle browser with past episodes of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “Happy Days”. Now, certainly 16,000 is not higher than the 23,000+ episodes that Netflix offers, the episodes of currently running TV favorites are available the day after the first live network broadcast. This is truly the one thing that they excel in. Hulu Plus has the know-how and the potential to become one of the big time players. Unfortunately, there is one serious flaw holding them back. That flaw is that users who pay $7.99 a month, which works out to $95.88 a year, will not continue to do so if you keep interrupting their videos with advertisements! If they wanted that, they would remain with a cable company! Hulu Plus needs to stop using advertisements in their videos or else they will remain a runner-up or be replaced by whatever the next video revolution might be.
Hulu Plus Video Device Options:
Traditional computer or laptop with access to a web browser. (Yes, this means that those running Linux can indeed use this service on their systems.)
iOS devices and handheld phones.
Some Set Top Boxes
When it comes down to choices, it will all depend on if you are shopping for a wide variety or if you are satisfied waiting on a service that is still building its library or a service that will run on your Linux computer. These are the Major dividing lines. There is also the option, however, that for a little more than that extra large pizza and bottle of soda that was going to be dinner one night last week you can just subscribe to all three services and use personal experience to find the winner.