Chasing Your Stream

Long gone are the days when the family gathered together in the living room for must-watch TV or scheduled activities around their favorite shows.

First it was DVR that allowed viewers to record their favorite programs and watch them later. Then cable companies began offering on-demand programming, which allowed viewers to select from a list of channels and programs to watch after they had already aired.

But with the rise of high-speed broadband, like the service provided by TEC, streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime have transformed the way we watch TV.

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Subscription streaming

According to Allconnect, an online guide to internet-based in-home services, there are more than 270 subscription-based streaming services. There are options for just about any viewing preference. A few of the most popular options include:



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Netflix

Pros:
Netflix is the gold standard for streaming services. It has a ton of original content to keep you entertained forever.

Cons:
Netflix is losing some of its most popular content to other streaming services, including “Friends,” “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation.”

Notable exclusives:
“Stranger Things,” “Black Mirror” and “Seinfeld.”

Purchase options:
Basic ($8.99/month) — One screen at a time, standard definition.
Standard ($12.99/month) — Two screens at a time, high definition.
Premium (15.99/month) — Four screens at a time, HD and 4K ultra HD.


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Hulu

Pros:
Hulu is one of only a few streaming services with a live TV option that can serve as a substitute for a cable subscription, and it includes a large library of content.

Cons:
Some of the more popular shows out there are already exclusive to other streaming services.

Notable exclusives:
“The Handmaids Tale,” “Family Guy” and all FX content.

Purchase options:
$5.99/month with ads.
$11.99/month with no ads.
$54.99/month on-demand and live TV over 50 channels.
$12.99/month bundle with Disney Plus and ESPN Plus.



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Disney+

Pros:
Disney Plus has an entire library of Disney content, from the most popular blockbusters to your favorite Disney Channel show from the ’90s.

Cons:
If you are not a fan of typical Disney content, there’s not as much for you here.

Notable exclusives:
Marvel, “Star Wars,” “Simpsons” and any Disney movie you can think of.

Purchase options:
$6.99/month.
$69.99/year.
Verizon customers get a year for free.
$12.99/month bundle with Hulu and ESPN Plus.



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HBO Max

Pros:
HBO Max has all of the HBO content you know and love plus more original content and old favorites.

Cons:
It has a higher price point.

Notable exclusives:
“Game of Thrones,” “Friends,” “Big Bang Theory,” DC and “South Park.”

Purchase options:
$14.99/month.



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Paramount Plus (CBS All Access)

Pros:
Paramount has available older CBS and Viacom shows along with many shows and movies straight from Paramount’s own vault plus live viewing of CBS programming.

Cons:
It has a limited amount of content.

Notable exclusives:
“Star Trek: Discovery” and “The Twilight Zone.”

Purchase options:
$5.99/month with ads.
$9.99/month without ads.

Free streaming

With the market saturated with pay subscriptions, new streaming services are offering programming for free to set them apart from the others. Some of the best free services include:



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Hoopla

Pros:
Hoopla has more than 9,000 titles of movies or TV shows and is a great choice for critically acclaimed dramas, classics and family movies.

Cons:
You will need a library card from a participating library to access it. It is not a good choice for new releases.

Notable movies:
“City of God,” “Memento” and “Good Will Hunting.”

Notable TV shows:
“Planet Earth,” “Rick and Morty” and “The Vietnam War.”

Available on:
Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV Stick, Roku.



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Kanopy

Pros:
Kanopy is a great option for movies, especially Oscar nominees, foreign and indie films, documentaries, and educational courses.

Cons:
It also requires a library card to access programming.

Notable movies:
“Lady Bird,” “Moonlight” and “First Reformed.”

Available on:
Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV Stick, Roku.



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Locast

Pros:
Locast is a great option for live TV programming on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS and the CW.

Cons:
It is currently available in only 17 U.S. markets but is growing and expanding to more areas.

Notable shows:
Includes 47 of the 50 most-watched shows in 2019.

Available on:
Android TV, Apple TV, Fire TV Stick, Roku.



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Tubi

Pros:
With more than 15,000 titles in its database, Tubi has the largest selection of any free streaming service. It is a great option for comedy, action, anime, horror and action films.

Cons:
Not a good option for those looking for new releases or classics.

Notable movies:
“New Jack City,” “Spotlight” and “Kill Bill.”

Notable TV shows:
“Cowboy Bebop,” “The Beatles Anthology” and “Mr. Bean.”

Available on:
Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV Stick, PlayStation 4, Roku, Xbox One.



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Pluto TV

Pros:
Unlike many of the streaming services with on-demand options and movies, Pluto TV is primarily focused on live programming with hundreds of live TV shows. It’s an excellent source for news coverage and sports.

Cons:
While Pluto TV does have a fair number of on-demand movies, it is not a good option for action or comedy movies.

Notable programming:
“The King of New York,” “Election” and “Big Fish.”

Available on:
Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV Stick, Roku.



Paid streaming services are abundant enough to satisfy any viewing preference, but if you are interested in cutting the monthly fees and willing to do some research, you are certain to find a free service to suit your needs.