Whether you're considering cutting the cord and canceling your cable or find yourself interested in supplementing your current cable or satellite subscription, you're going to want to learn more about Internet streaming services.
Although there are a variety of services, you'll definitely want to consider one (or more) of the big three: Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime.
But which service is right for you? Here's our guide on how to get the most bang from Internet streaming for the buck.
When it comes to watching the latest episodes of your favorite shows, there's a huge difference between what's available on the three services. In fact, if you watch a lot of current TV, Hulu Plus is the way to go: it offers a wide variety of network TV series with episodes going up only 24 hours after they air on live TV.
Amazon Prime, though, does offer a few current television series' episodes five days after airing live, including Extant and Under The Dome. Unless, of course, those two series are on your must-see list (and that's doubtful), Amazon Prime won't get you current TV.
Netflix is even more far behind. Seasons of shows usually take about a year to make it up on that service, although this does give you the ability to binge-watch seasons at a time. Netflix is only good here if you don't mind waiting a while to see something.
Hulu Plus might be great for catching up on recent episodes of all your favorite TV shows, but it has a downside: advertising. However, advertising is minimal, at least compared to what you'll see on network TV, but if that's a turn-off, you might want to skip the service. However, Hulu Plus does give you the option of customizing what kind of ads you see.
Both Amazon and Netflix, though, are gloriously ad-free, although Amazon Prime does show short promos before each video for other series available on the service.
Here's where each service differs: because each offers its very own original content. And the real winner here hands-down is Netflix. With award-winning series like the exciting political drama House of Cards and the hilarious Orange Is The New Black, Netflix has the shows you don't want to miss. And the service creates these shows specifically for marathon watching, so you can dedicate full weekends to your favorites. And the good news is that the service continues offering more and more original content every year, including the upcoming Jessica Jones series, along with Daredevil, Luke Cage and Sense 8.
However, Amazon Prime is slowly catching up to Netflix in the original content category. Its original series Transparent recently won big at the Golden Globes and the service has also offered some other critically-acclaimed series, such as Mozart in the Jungle and Alpha House. What's even better about Amazon, too, is that they offer several pilot seasons a year, where pilots of potential series go up for customer reviews and the most popular get selected for a full series run. We're most excited about the upcoming The Man In The High Castle series that came out of the most recent pilot season.
Hulu Plus has original content, but some of it isn't really original. Mostly, what Hulu Plus offers comes from other countries and production companies, including the UK's BBC. There are a few original web series that have made a dent, however, at the service, including The Awesomes, Deadbeat and Behind The Mask. However, Hulu Plus is still way behind the other two services when it comes to original content.
It's no secret that if you want to watch movies, Netflix is the way to go. With a long list of films that range from Marvel to indie movies you may not have yet heard of, Netflix is the go-to when you want to watch a lot of movies. New movies arrive on the service every month, too. In particular, if you love documentaries, Netflix has the best selection to choose from.
Amazon Prime, however, has a decent selection of films, too, although it's nowhere near as vast as Netflix's offerings. More often than not, a film you find on Amazon Prime will also be on Netflix, so Netflix still wins here.
Although Hulu Plus doesn't have a lot of movies, it does have access to the Criterion Collection, which is the perfect resource for classic award-winning and critically-acclaimed films from around the globe. However, unless you want to see the best from the likes of Ingmar Bergman or Akira Kurosawa, the Criterion movies might not be enough to sway you.
Perhaps the biggest concern when it comes to Internet streaming is cost. Both Hulu Plus and Netflix run $7.99 per month, which, let's face it, is a lot cheaper than cable. However, Amazon is a bit pricier and costs $99 per year.
However, when you break down Amazon's price, it only comes out to about $8.25 per month, so it's really not that much more expensive than its competitors. Plus you also get free 2-day shipping on all items ordered from Amazon.
So which service is right for you?
So which service is the best? It all depends on what you want out of the service. The costs are all around the same, but if you want movies, go with Netflix. If you want next-day TV episodes, go with Hulu Plus. If you want free shipping plus a streaming service, go with Amazon Prime.
Or you can do what most cord cutters do: go with all three services. With a total cost of around $24.23 per month, you're still spending less than you would with cable or satellite. And you have content on demand: watch what you want when you want.