Online Video: A Stream of Entertainment

NetflixI smile when I remember running home from school to catch my favorite cartoons.  I also remember many dates with my wife, walking to the theater or staying in and renting a movie. To this day, we still enjoy a good show, but once we had kids our TV time became very limited.  There were two problems we ran into. First, we could never find anything we wanted to watch. Second, our cable bill was getting out of hand.  A few years ago, we took a leap and cancelled the cable entirely – an experiment to see if we could rely only on online video.  Surprisingly, we made it and looking back I don’t regret that in the least.

I’m not suggesting you drop your cable or dish, but I think it’s worth knowing what’s out there.   There are already many options and it’s a growing trend. The sites below have video that can be watched from your computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet. Some are free, others have a small fee. With some setup, you can even watch these on your TV.

Netflix. I’m sure you’ve heard of Netflix and receiving DVD’s in the mail. While the DVDs are still an option, the company is focusing on streaming content.  By far, Netflix has the largest online selection of movies, as well as a large selection of TV shows. $7.99/month.

Hulu. The basic service at Hulu is free for current episodes of TV shows.  By upgrading to Hulu Plus, you get access to past seasons and a larger selection of movies.  Beware there are a lot of commercials to deal with! Free or $7.99/month.

Amazon Prime. Amazon may not have as much to offer as Netflix, but it is still a significant variety.  And the membership comes with other perks, like free shipping on most Amazon orders and free Kindle book rentals. $79/year.

YouTube. YouTube has been the way to get the word out for smaller independent movies that never make it to the theater or DVD, but you may not know there is also a large selection of older shows and full-length movies. Free.

TV Channel Sites. Most channels that you receive through cable will offer you free access to recent episodes of their shows from their websites. NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC, and PBS are a few examples. Free.

Crackle. This is one I just learned about, and have been trying out. It’s owned by Sony and is very limited on their content, but the price is right if you find anything you are interested in. Free.

iTunes / Google Play. These are similar to the brick-and-mortar video rental store: when you want a movie you pay by the title.  This is your best option for brand new and hard to find movies. $1.99 and up/show.

The next time you want to watch a movie, try the Internet rather than your cable stations or dish.  You may be surprised what you find.  Are there any streaming sites you use that I’ve missed?

2 Comments on “Online Video: A Stream of Entertainment

  1. General public preferences today control the entertainment marketplace in a way which wasnearly impossible before the world-wide-web and also the viral submitting of media, andcomplete entertainment material. When you add to that distribution on the web and, headlines, sites, from gossip to complete movies. It really is a brand new world. A lot of it fine, some not.

    • Great Points! You are right, in my lifetime the media space has changed from requiring millions of dollars, private companies, and major advertising to one where anyone with a smartphone can create and distribute something. There is no shortage of entertainment streams out there. Some of them are fantastic, many of them I find to be a waste of my time.

      With the freedom to create and distribute media, the challenge for us as consumers is to focus on finding the best entertainment for our preferences.

      Thanks for visiting.

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