Movie and TV Streaming Sites Review
Why Use Movie & TV Streaming Sites?
The top performers in our review are Netflix, the Gold Award winner; Amazon Prime Video, the Silver Award winner; and Hulu, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing an internet TV service to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of these 10 services.
Streaming TV and movies through internet sites has become a staple in homes across the nation, often replacing cable subscriptions. Watching online TV at your leisure is a go-to option for a variety of reasons. People don’t always have time to watch their favorite shows when they air during prime time. Also, rising cable bills and fees make cable increasingly unaffordable. While a few of the best internet TV services don't have the most recent episodes available for streaming, many viewers find it worthwhile to sacrifice being current for a great monthly price.
You don't have to watch internet TV from your small computer desktop. With quality apps and compatible devices, you can binge-watch your favorite shows on your flat-screen TV or on a tablet if you're on the go. For more information, read our articles about internet TV and other entertainment services.
Options for Streaming Live TV
The services we’ve compared here are the best for streaming content on demand, any time you want it. However, there are some options out there for streaming live TV. For example, check out Sling TV or PlayStation Vue. Both services have live cable television channels in packages that range from $20 to over $60 per month. These services allow you to live stream your favorite TV channels, such as ESPN and TBS, through the internet. You can even add on specific channels with these services for an additional fee. These services more closely mimic an actual cable subscription, since you can watch TV as it happens, including sporting events and live specials. As such, they can be used to replace your cable. However, they don’t generally allow you to delay watching until its convenient for you, and like all live TV, they come with lengthy commercial breaks.
Choosing an Internet TV Site: What to Look For
When choosing which online TV site is right for you, the first thing to consider is what TV shows or movies you want to watch. Each site has the rights to stream different shows. However, no service has the rights to stream every program. We rated and ranked internet TV sites based on the following criteria.
If a service doesn't have the content you want to watch, it won't be a good purchase for you. The top-ranked services have limited free trial periods, allowing you to experience the site's content library for a week or a month without paying a fee. You can see what kinds of TV shows and movies the service offers and decide whether if it's a membership you'd pay for, though be aware that the available content is likely to change over time. We looked for sites that host content from multiple media networks, such as CBS and Time Warner, giving users a wide variety of entertainment to satisfy their interests. The services that provided a wider selection of content did better in our rankings. With more TV shows that you like, you get more value for the cost of the service.
You need more than just a Play button to have an enjoyable experience watching internet TV. Other features, such as closed captioning and a customizable viewer profile, make the experience better. Parental controls are essential for restricting the type of entertainment your kids have access to. We also ranked apps on their ability to work with game consoles, smart TVs, tablets and Wi-Fi enabled devices.
As we tested these sites, we found that most of the features are more or less the same, regardless of the internet TV service. For instance, closed captioning on Hulu is the same as closed captioning as FandangoNOW. There are minor differences, such as font type and size, but the functionality is basically identical.
A feature worth noting, however, is offline viewing, where you can download TV shows to watch when you don't have an internet connection. Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are two notable services that offer this convenient feature. We gave a better rank to services with additional features, as the increased options provides greater flexibility.
It's important for internet TV sites to be easy to use. Watching TV shouldn't be difficult, so the design of the site should be simple and intuitive. To test this, we acquired accounts for all the services and used them ourselves. We then gave each internet TV service a percentage score out of 100. The higher the score, the easier it was to use and navigate. A score of 90 or above means that the service was straightforward and convenient to use. Anything lower reflects a more cumbersome design, making it more difficult to browse and search. In addition to ease of use, we also considered a few other factors that contributed to the user experience. These include whether the service has unlimited viewing or the presence of advertising and commercials. The services that had more factors to enhance user experience did better in our rankings than those that had less.
Help & Support
Using a streaming service is easy, but in the event that things don't work out, you will want several help options. FAQs and email support are standard, but many sites offer other sources of aid, such as live chat and social media outlets, when you have problems. We gave services with more support options a better ranking than those with fewer.
Our Verdict & Recommendations
The results of our hands-on experience and analysis of features show anticipated results. The Gold Award winner is none other than the very popular Netflix. With its relatively low monthly cost, numerous features, effective interface and massive amount of content, this internet TV service is the best. And although Netflix lacks current episodes from mainstream cable or network television shows, an increasing amount of original, high-quality content is being produced by the company.
Receiving our Silver Award is Amazon Prime Video. This internet TV service is a close contender to Netflix with its original content and offline viewing feature. The cost per year of this service comes with a Prime membership, which offers a variety of other benefits, such as two-day shipping and access to a library of free eBooks.
Our Bronze Award winner is Hulu. This internet TV service is best if you want the most current episodes of popular television series, but don't mind a few streaming commercials. The service does offer an ad-free subscription, but it costs more per month.
The best internet movie and TV sites have the right combination of everything you need. However, none of them is perfect, so you will want to make sure you know what the most important features are to you and choose accordingly. When you do, you'll be ready to watch your favorite shows whenever you want.