There are a number of great streaming video providers that are enabling the cable cord cutting. Netflix and Hulu are the most popular, with several other companies filling in the gaps or providing credible alternatives.
The Top Tier Streaming Video
- Netflix: The Netflix streaming video service provides on-demand video to just about every TV connected widget out there. Netflix provides mostly older or B-movie content, but has recently been expanding it’s streaming catalog. Netflix also provides a DVD rental service to complement their streaming offerings. Look at our take on Netflix.
- Amazon Instant Video: The Amazon Instant Video service provides streaming video service to different platforms. Amazon provides first run TV shows, new movies, and subscription access (Netflix style) with it’s Amazon Prime service. Look at our take on Amazon Instant Video.
- Hulu: Hulu streaming video website provides first-run TV shows and movies. Hulu provides two offerings. Their free service will often give the last 5 episodes of TV shows, some 30 days after first airing, and a variety of back catalog movies. Hulu also offers their Hulu Plus subscription to gain better access to current and older shows and movies. Look at our take at Hulu.
- Sling TV: Sling TV provides streaming access to live TV channels like ESPN, TNT, AMC, and the History channel. Sling TV is $20 a month with added channel packages like HBO, Sports package, and Kids channel package for an additional charge.
Other Great Streams
- Crackle: Crackle streaming video service provides back catalog movies and TV shows for free. Videos have advertising embedded, similar to Hulu. Crackle is run by Sony Pictures, and all the video content is from the Sony Pictures catalog. Look at our take on Crackle.
- Apple iTunes: Apple iTunes video is Apple’s video offering that’s tied to their iOS ecosystem. Although there are always rumors of something much more grand, Apple says it is dabbling in this marketplace. They currently offer downloadable TV shows (buy only) and movies (buy and rent) in both standard definition and HD.
Streaming Video Quality and Bitrates
Most streaming video services have 720p and 480p video streams, but choose different ways to degrade their streams for lower bandwidth viewing. Some use lower resolution while others use lower bandwidth and incur more compression artifacts.
|4.1 Mbps||2.8 Mbps||3.2 Mbps
|1.6 Mbps||1.3 Mbps
|1.0 Mbps||1.1 Mbps|
|360p||0.7 Mbps||0.8 Mbps|
Many consumer electronic devices support video streaming options. Here’s just a few of the options for viewing streaming video.
|Playstation 3 (TV)|
|XBox 360 (TV)|