To my count, there are over a dozen online streaming media services where you can watch your favorite TV shows that have long since ended their run on network television. You can also use these services to watch old movies that you wish were a part of your own personal movie catalog.
Streaming media services are only going to get more popular in 2014 as TVs and set-top boxes connected to the web get cheaper and easier to setup and operate. So to follow up on my story about Netflix expiring some of its online movies and TV shows, I wanted to give readers tips to choosing the best TV streaming service for their needs. I’ve broken down my tips in three sections that I call the “three C’s” to help you make the right choice.
With so many ways to watch your favorite content online, it sometimes feels like you have to solve a complicated math problem just to find content. So the first area I would suggest you focus is to evaluate each streaming media service’s catalog to find out which one will have the bulk of the content you like to watch.
There are services like fan.tv that can show you where the content you want to view is located, but that still doesn’t mean you want to jump through hoops cycling through a bunch of inputs on your TV and Audio/Video receiver, in addition to digging through that box of remotes every time you want to watch something online. While it won’t completely eliminate input/remote jumping, finding the service with the best catalog of titles that suits your needs will reduce the amount of time and effort it takes to find what you want to watch.
If you have preferred brand, device or “ecosystem” where you already use most of their services, to me it may be a good idea to take a serious look at their online content offerings to make it more convenient for you when it comes time to watch some internet TV.
For example, if you love Apple, iTunes might be your primary way to get content because you can buy and watch iTunes media on all your Apple devices. If you already buy everything from Amazon, you’re probably already familiar with how the service works, so streaming content from the Amazon cloud may make more sense to you and your family than using any other service.
The final reason why I would suggest analyzing the catalog and convenience of each online streaming media service is while on their own, they are cheaper than loading up your cable/satellite subscription with every package available; online streaming services can add up if you just subscribe to each and every one and also have to buy all the devices to gain access to each service.
You may not be able to get away with choosing just one online streaming service to completely “cut the cord” and cancel your cable/satellite service, but picking the right online streaming service(s), as well as “cord shaving” and cutting back on your cable/satellite packages may just net you some family-budget friendly savings as well as offer more options for family movie night.
Online media streaming services are here to stay. I envision a future where everything will be found online, including television entertainment. Right now is a good time to familiarize yourself with all the available services, and get in the habit of going to the web more so when the time comes to “cut the cord” completely, you will already be in the game.