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Streaming Video Services: How Do They Compare?

These days you can enjoy video just about anywhere. With a network-connected device and a streaming video service, you’re only a few clicks away from catching a hit movie or binge-watching an award-winning TV show. Many services even offer a free trial period. Below we compare the key features of some of today’s most popular video streaming services.

Netflix®

Subscription options
$7.99/month access to unlimited amount of available content from any compatible device
Video and audio quality
Up to 4K. While most content is only available up to 1080p, Netflix began streaming some 4K content in 2014. To view it you need a 2014 4K Ultra HD TV and a fast Internet connection — Netflix recommends at least 20Mbps for optimum 4K picture quality. Learn more about 4K Ultra HD TV.
Stereo or 5.1-channel Dolby® Digital Plus
What can you watch?
Unofficially, over 30,000 titles including older and newer movies, documentaries and television shows
How can you watch?
Home: Most high-speed broadband-enabled televisions, Blu-ray players, Apple TV®, streaming media devices, game consoles, and TiVo®
Mobile: iPad®; iPhone®; Android™ smartphones and tablets
Computers: Mac®, Windows®
Pros and cons
  • Gives personalized recommendations. Strong TV streaming selection including award-winning original programming such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.
  • Depending on your movie preference, you may be underwhelmed by the selection of newer box office hits.

huluPLUS™

Subscription options
$7.99 per month for unlimited viewing, with limited commercial interruption
Video and audio quality
HD when available
Stereo 
What can you watch?
16,000 episodes of 400 current and classic TV programs, includes programming from many of the major networks (ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, and NBC) along with cable shows, some movies are available
How  can you watch?
Home: Many high-speed broadband-enabled televisions, Blu-ray players, streaming media devices, Apple TV, game consoles, and TiVo
Mobile: iPad; iPhone; Android smartphones and tablets
Computers: Mac, Windows
Pros and cons
  • Large selection of TV content includes entire seasons of shows, both older and current programs. Some current seasons of shows are available. After login, the menu quickly shuffles you to the shows you frequently watch. 
  • Supported in part by commercials that can't be skipped.

Amazon Prime Instant Video

Subscription options
$99 a year (Amazon Prime subscription) gets you access to unlimited viewing of many movies and TV shows from any compatible device
Newer movies and TV shows available for sale a la carte
Video and audio quality
Up to 1080p
5.1 Dolby Digital Plus
What can you watch?
Amazon says over 40,000 titles
How can you watch?
Home: Most high-speed broadband-enabled televisions, Blu-ray players, streaming media devices, game consoles, and TiVo
Mobile: iPad; iPhone; Android smartphones and tablets
Computers: Mac®, Windows®
Pros and cons
  • Intuitive search options, including very specific genres and moods. Some original programming. Starting May 2014, exclusive streaming home to classic HBO shows such as The Sopranos and The Wire, also earlier seasons of current shows like True Blood and Boardwalk Empire.
  • Search results can include content that is for sale a la carte; this can cause confusion and disappointment.

Vudu™

Subscription options
None. Pay as you go, $2 per movie for two night rental of standard-definition titles
HD titles ranging from $3.99 to $5.99 for new releases
Video and audio quality
480i to 1080p
Stereo to 7.1-channel Dolby Digital Plus, depends on equipment compatibility and rental selection
What can you watch?
Unofficially, over 20,000 titles    
How can you watch?
Home: Many high-speed broadband-enabled televisions, Blu-ray players, streaming media devices, and game consoles
Mobile: iPad; iPhone; Android smartphones and tablets
Computers: Mac, Windows
Pros and cons
  • New releases simultaneous with DVD release.
  • You pay for each movie and show as you watch, rather than a monthly fee.

iTunes®

Subscription options
None. Pay as you go, with the ability to rent or buy movies, individual TV shows, or entire seasons.
Wide variety of prices, but average HD movie prices range from $3.99 to $6.99
Video and audio quality
Up to 1080p
Stereo and Dolby Digital Surround 5.1 (some movies include Dolby Pro-Logic II Surround)
What can you watch?
Older and newer movies and TV shows
How can you watch?
Home: Apple TV
Mobile: iPad, iPhone, and iPod
Computers: Mac or PC running iTunes 10 or later
Pros and cons
  • New releases simultaneous with DVD release. In some cases, the latest episodes of current TV seasons are available.
  • Primarily geared toward iOS® users. Works well on Apple devices, but less presence elsewhere.
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