We gave up cable several years ago, because it seemed incredibly expensive to have our DVR service. We loved it when we first had it, because there really were not many options out there for accessing shows and movies. Then Netflix and Hulu Plus came along. We decided to give it a whirl a few years ago, and we honestly haven’t looked back.
With these two subscription services we pay only about $20 a month, v.s. over $100 for cable. That’s a huge savings over time. We’ve used streaming services for several years, and I am totally sold on the experience for many reasons.
First, here’s the dish on both services.
Netflix is the world’s leading Internet television network with over 50 million members in nearly 50 countries enjoying more than two billion hours of TV shows and movies per month, including original series. For one low monthly price, Netflix members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on nearly any Internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without commercials or commitments (Info provided by their website).
What I love: NO COMMERCIALS! You can customize profiles. There’s something for everyone in the family.
What I’m not so hot about: I wish more new content was added more frequently. The romantic comedies list is basically been there, done that for me (but we’re talking over my life time, not just since we subscribed to Netflix).
Hulu is an online video service that offers a selection of hit TV shows, clips, movies and more on the subscription service Hulu Plus. Instantly stream any current season episode of primetime TV shows. Explore a wide array of acclaimed movies and documentaries, including hundreds of titles from The Criterion Collection. Also discover Hulu Original Series.
What I love: You can watch your favorite t.v. shows the day after broadcast (The day after broadcast watercooler talk is a thing of the past, so I don’t feel deprived by having to wait a day to watch something. Besides, we usually waited a couple of days with our DVR too). You can create a favorites list.
What I’m not so hot about: They only bank 5 episodes of current shows, so while you don’t have to watch them right away, there is a shelf-life. No current CBS shows. The commercials get repetitive. Beware scrolling through the new content and popular lists, especially in the movies section. There are many graphic images that you may not want to explain to your kid(s). (This sounds like a lot of negatives, but the few pros outweigh the cons).
More about what I love:
1) No or limited commercials. Netflix does not have commercials and Hulu Plus shows limited commercials. I cannot even begin to express how awesome it is that my daughter has basically grown up without watching commercials. We don’t have to contend with the toy and food commercials marketed to kids. No begging for the current hot toy. In fact, we were at a birthday party recently and the hottest toy from last Christmas was one of the gifts. I hadn’t even heard of it. Also, we recently found out why we are really happy we don’t have to sit through commercials. When the season premiere of The Flash was aired, the whole family was too excited to wait one day for it to show up on Hulu Plus (kiddo loves her superheroes). What we encountered at 7:00 on a weeknight were advertisements for erectile dysfunction and a show called Jane the Virgin where she ends up pregnant without ever having sex. Yep, that’s totally appropriate for a 6 year old. Thank goodness we were able to distract her through them. Needless to say we will wait and watch the rest of episodes the next day. There are limited commercials on Hulu Plus, but I have never encountered one that I would feel uncomfortable about my daughter watching.
2) Customizable. Both systems allow you to personalize your experience. My favorite is probably Netflix. What is great about this is on our one account we can have 3 different profiles–one for each member of our family. Why this is cool… We can each select what we want to put on our playlists. The grownups don’t have to have the kids movies and my husband doesn’t have to put up with my romantic comedies. Why is this even necessary? Another cool feature of Netflix is that after watching and adding to your playlist for a while, the service starts giving you suggestions. Because you watched this, you might like this… Which is one reason why our own profiles is so handy so you’re not getting tips based on someone else’s preferences. Also, since the kiddo is a kiddo, she is locked in to only searching through the Kids version of Netflix on her profile and she won’t accidentally stumble upon something not kid-friendly. Hulu Plus is also customizable to a point. You can add shows to your “favorites” and they also keep track of your most recently watched.
3) Our favorites are all in one place. Both Netflix and Hulu Plus offer access to t.v. shows, movies, and documentaries. Almost all of our favorite t.v. shows are on Hulu Plus. The one bummer is that current CBS shows are not available–but it was just announced that CBS is going to be releasing it’s own streaming service. Since many of our favorite shows are on CBS, this is great news for us. And this is the BIG reason why I am so very happy we have Netflix this week. Back when the Winter Olympics were on, we decided we would give cable one more shot–and we wanted to see the Olympics. We had cable for a month. The only things we watched were the Olympics, HGTV, and the Food Network (and a little ESPN). Not really worth the chunk of change needed for the fancier DVR our cable company now requires. Last night I made an amazing discovery. Tons of Food Network and HGTV shows that we all love are now available on Netflix! Are they the brand new episodes? Probably not, but several season of each are included and that’s mostly what we watched in re-runs anyway. Are all of the shows included–no, but all of our very favorites are. My daughter was thrilled when we told her, and so am I. (She loves Guy and the Property Brothers). This is unscripted programming that we can get behind and all watch and enjoy as a family. I am super giddy about this new development.
4) We can access them pretty much anywhere. The nice thing about these services is that you can basically get them anywhere you have an internet connection on a supported device. Since most of our house is run through devices on Wi-Fi, this works really well for us. We have run them both through an Apple TV, game systems (both Xbox, Wii, and Play Station), and a tablet. My mom runs hers through a blu-ray player that has these and other streaming services built in. And that’s just in the house. If we connect to Wi-Fi somewhere else, we can still access our profiles.
5) We watch t.v. with purpose. One of the things I noticed almost immediately when we cut out cable was we didn’t waste time channel surfing anymore. When we sit down to watch t.v., we do so because we want to be watching a specific show or want to find a movie to enjoy. You might not think this is a big deal, but it really is. If you have t.v., think about the amount of time you spend just blindly flipping channels when you really haven’t found anything worth watching. I know I would be up way later than I should have been just browsing for no real reason and then regretting it later. And, we never have the t.v. on for background noise. Even if my husband and I are spending time together (and working at the same time), we choose shows we want to watch and are not locked into what is currently being broadcast or saved in a DVR list.
Is a streaming service right for you? There are many streaming services out there, and you should consider a few things before jumping in. Check what will really work in your budget. While both Netflix and Hulu Plus are less than $10 per month, you also have to consider the cost of the internet service, the machine you are going to stream it on, and your wireless router (we had to upgrade at one point, because as I said before most of our house runs off of our Wi-Fi and we were seriously causing ours strain). There are also other services out there besides Netflix and Hulu Plus (these are just our personal favorites). We also have Amazon video through my husband’s Amazon Prime account. We do use this every once in a while, but it’s definitely not one of our go-to services. Generally I only use it when I looking for something I am not finding on the other two services–because we can only use it easily through our game system. I also heard that HBO is going to offer its own streaming service! But, they do add up over time. Consider the cost of Netflix, Hulu Plus, CBS and HBO streaming, and an Amazon Prime account. If you get all of these are you truly saving enough money? One good thing is that both Netflix and Hulu Plus will let you try their services out for free for a certain length of time (one month, I believe) to make sure it really is for you.
Why I am even happier? I kept saying that if cable would just let us choose which channels we wanted and only pay for them, I’d might reconsider. But, now I don’t have to, because the only two channels that we really watched on cable now provide shows through our streaming service. I am a very happy camper.
Do you use a streaming service? What are your favorites?