It’s safe to say that the days of cable’s domination over the entertainment market are long dead. Since the dawn of Netflix in 1997, streaming services have expanded in reach, variation, and popularity, with the end result being that most Americans now subscribe to more than one streaming service while cable numbers are slowly declining. It’s not hard to see why: streaming services offer a level of convenience that even the addition of features like DVR can’t match, allowing users to access a curated library of content at any time, in any place.
With the popular properties owned by large and small streaming services alike, the sheer volume of available content (amounting to hours upon hours of TV that can be consumed at the viewer’s pace), and the bundling packages that allow viewers to subscribe to multiple services at once, it’s safe to say that the streaming revolution is here to stay.
Still, the question of which streaming services to patronize can be difficult, as different streaming services offer original content and catalogs meant to cater to specific audiences. Knowing what different streaming services offer can help you decide whether you should spend your money on a particular one or not.
Let’s talk about some of the most popular streaming services out there and whether they’re worth your hard-earned cash.
The king of all streaming services, Netflix makes the top of most lists in the category, being the great-grandfather of streaming and the service ushering in the next era of the streaming revolution. Part of the reason for this is it’s almost-constant production of original content, being a great space for indie filmmakers to get their start and for wonky pitches that network TV usually turns down to find a home.
However, several Netflix films have gone on to considerable critical acclaim, and TV series like “Stranger Things,” “Orange is the New Black,” and more recently “The Witcher” (all Netflix originals) have gone on to be cornerstones of modern pop culture. Netflix also has an extensive catalog of beloved TV series like “The Walking Dead,” “Dexter,” and “American Horror Story” on the platform. If you’re looking for a good staple streaming service that can cater to a variety of tastes, you can’t go wrong with Netflix.
Think of Hulu as Netflix for those of us who miss cable. Hulu offers both a cheaper subscription (about $5.99) with commercials and a full-price subscription (around $11), and neither offers you access to the full breadth of content available on Hulu. Instead, in order to get access to everything Hulu has to offer, you have to pay for entirely different sub-subscriptions to different hubs, allowing you to access streaming content from channels like FX and Starz.
Hulu is a great way to supplement the content you get from other streaming services at a discounted price – if you can stand the commercials. Otherwise, you may want to take a look at the content available on Hulu and decide whether the base content is worth investing in for yourself. This well-known streaming service can become a bit of a money pit rather quickly if you aren’t careful.
Arguably the newest kid on the block, Disney Plus has been trying to be culturally relevant since its debut, which only really featured the first season of “The Mandalorian” and archived Disney films. However, it has become packed with content relevant to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (arguably the platform’s biggest draw for the everyday Joe), Disney channel originals, new Star Wars Universe projects, and even original films and series for beloved properties like the Muppets.
Still, even if you are a fan of these properties, you may find that once you exhaust the queue of available content for your specific nerd-dom, there isn’t much value in you keeping the service month-to-month. You can always turn it back on if they add something new, but it may not be a service worth keeping long-term.
This is actually a free streaming service on par with Netflix and has a proud position among the best streaming services to date. Kodi is essentially an entertainment hub that hosts hours of free TV and movie content and allows users to play things like video games and music on their favorite devices. Moreover, like Hulu, Kodi has options for add-ons that will increase the pool of available content: unlike Hulu, all those add-ons are free.
If you’ve never heard of Kodi, you’re likely missing out on one of the best streaming services on the market. Check it out, and see how you can expand your entertainment library for the low, low cost of free.
While there is an abundance of streaming services available that may scratch different itches for you, the most popular streaming services offer a breadth of content that appeals to everyone. Feel free to check out any of the above entries: the value you get out of them is the most important thing.
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