Sorting through the streams

There are quite a few different streaming services out there and they all offer different features. One of the newest features is that many streaming services are now offering their own original programming, which you can only watch by subscribing to their service. Will a streaming service provide you with everything you need, or will it only supplement your viewing? Let’s find out.

Amazon Video is most effective if you are already an Amazon Prime subscriber, as it includes loads of free movies and TV shows for on-demand viewing with a Prime membership. The shows are full catalogues (all seasons) of older shows, recently aired past seasons and original programming. You can pay to purchase individual episodes of current episodes or subscribe to a full season of a current show. It’s recommended as a supplement to live television either through cable, over-the-air antenna or live TV streaming service.

As of my writing this, DirecTV Now has not yet been released, but the limited information available seems to indicate this will be an option for streaming live television with over 100 channels. It is unknown if the ability to pause and skip live TV will be included or not. Without knowing the channels, I can’t yet recommend the service, but the goal is for it to be a cable replacement.

Hulu airs television shows shortly after they originally air so that you can watch them at your convenience. There are commercials, but you can pay for a limited-commercial plan. There is also the rumored upcoming Hulu Live service, which will presumably offer live television. Hulu also has some original programming and non-original movies and TV shows in their back catalogue. It is easy to search the Hulu website to see if your favorite shows are included. Hulu also has non-first run movies available for streaming. Hulu is another potential cable replacement.

Netflix provides past shows and movies as well as original movies and series. For the past shows, they generally have the full catalogue, or all past seasons of a show. While their original programming is available to all at the same time, their non-original programming, including movies, can be a bit outdated. It’s recommended as a supplement to live television either through cable, over-the-air antenna or live TV streaming service.

Sling TV has live television with limited channels and no ability to record shows for later viewing; you watch live television. Some of the channels allow pausing of live TV, but not all. The goal is to replace your cable with Sling, but, again, you need to confirm that their channel lineup has all of the channels you are looking for and ensure that you are comfortable solely watching live TV as it airs. Not all local network television channels are available, but you can add on premium movie channels. Netflix and Amazon Video are great options to supplement here.

Sony Playstation Vue, to be clear, does not require that you have a Sony Playstation video game console (however, it can be played through the console). Like Sling, Vue plays live TV with a limited number of channels and does not include some local network channels. However, Vue includes a “cloud DVR” which allows you to record your favorite shows for playback at your convenience. The ability to record is what makes Vue stand out today and makes for a great cable replacement option (verify that it has the channels that you need). You can also subscribe to premium channels through Vue. As with Sling, Netflix and Amazon Video are great options to supplement here.

Viewing these streaming services still requires that you have the right equipment. Some of these are built into smart TVs (Netflix is built into everything). Otherwise, there are inexpensive streaming boxes that can be purchased to get you up and running.

Are you still subscribing to cable?


Paul Burnstein is a Tech Handyman. As the founder of Gadget Guy MN, Paul helps personal and business clients optimize their use of technology. He can be found through or via email at [email protected]