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Saving Money by Streaming Movies: Review of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime

streaming movies

The cost of going to the movies is expensive, and so is paying for premium cable, therefore it’s no wonder cheaper video streaming services are rising in popularity. Sure you have to wait a while to see certain films, but it sure beats the price of instant gratification.

By now you’ve likely considered or have an account with a streaming service; however, are you sure you have the best account for your viewing preferences? With some streaming sites now competing with cable channels to produce original content, like the hit success of Netflix’s “House of Cards” — which is releasing Season 3 today to members — leaving your cable bill behind seems even more appealing than before.

If you’re tired of spending your entire entertainment budget going to see just one movie, or throwing away your savings on your cable bill, consider saving money with a streaming service like Netflix, Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime.

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Netflix Streaming

Netflix offers both physical DVDs and online streaming. It currently offers thousands of movies and TV shows available for streaming, though the selection tends to be older with few new releases.

You can stream video to your TV through most major gaming consoles like Wii and Xbox, as well as a number of Blu-Ray devices, HDTVS, and streaming players. You can also purchase a special device from Netflix that will allow you watch on your television if you don’t have the proper equipment. It’s also possible to stream videos on your computer or mobile device such as an iPad or Kindle Fire.

Netflix costs $8.99 a month for new members and you can watch as many movies and TV shows as you want. A one-month free trial is also available.

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Hulu Plus

The free version of Hulu is pretty limited — you can watch up to five TV shows per month and streaming is only available on your computer. However, the paid version known as Hulu Plus is much more expansive as far as selection and streaming capabilities.

Hulu Plus allows you to watch all current-season episodes of a variety of popular TV shows, as well as hundreds of older shows. You can also stream full length movies — currently, there’s a selection of about 2,500 films to choose from, though again, they tend to be an older and somewhat obscure assortment.

Like Netflix, you can stream over just about every major gaming console, Blu-ray or streaming player, mobile device, etc. The cost is also $7.99, though you will have to sit through some commercials. Hulu offers a free one-week trial.

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Amazon Prime Streaming

At first glance, Amazon Prime’s video streaming service seems pretty inferior compared to Netflix and Hulu. The selection is small and it streams across fewer platforms. However, there are a couple of things Prime offers that the others can’t.

First, $79 per year seems like a lot of money, until you do the math: Paying $8.99 and $7.99 per month for Netflix or Hulu means you’re spending $108 and $96, respectively, per year on the services.

Secondly, membership to Amazon Prime gives you a substantial shipping discount on qualifying Amazon purchases, as well as instant access to thousands of Kindle books. Video streaming is really more an additional perk.

Anyone should carefully review the benefits of each of these services to pick the best one for him. For streaming movies, Netflix has the best selection. If you’re more interested in staying up on the latest TV shows, go with Hulu Plus. Those who are frequent Amazon shoppers should choose Prime simply for the added discounts that will increase its value for you.

Photo credit: David Hall

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  • Danny

    Yes Netflix is not the bargin it once was. This is reflected in their stock price plummeting from 300 to around 60 currently. They had a good product before with the latest titles on DVD and streamable replay TV and long-tail content. I don’t know why the CEO is still there; in my opinion he really missed the mark with the change in strategy of casting off Starz and streaming replay TV. I don’t appreciate the Netflix executive PR about the majority of the members stream replay TV. Of course they stream replay TV, because that is all Netflix offers now.

    Netflix went from a blend of entertainment to predominantly replay TV. Then they added insult to injury by doing an about face to include the disk service but at double the price. To top it off they removed the sorting interface in exchange for a recommendation interface that works as bad as the executive decision making. What are these guys smoking? There is an old saying, “they have their head up their @$$ and they like the view!

    So it boils down to this: Netflix executives forgot that content is king and thought that they could fund the expansion into Europe and South America by raising the price and cutting expenses of the disk delivery program in the US market. The bundles from Cable, Telco and Satellite when compared to the a la carte of separate services; Netflix, internet and phone, starts to look better and better. Once cable adds a Cell phone to the triple play package it will be worthwhile to cancel the diluted value of Netflix and sign up for quadruple play or as an alternative, renting current movies from Redbox and use Hulu for replay TV. The best part is, you can count on Netflix executives selling their services to the big three, Cable, Telco, and Satellite because they no longer believe in the product that was so popular just a little more than a year ago.

  • Titanius

    If there is anything I love more than watching movies it would have to be saving money while doing so. I did enjoy Netflix for quite some time until the eventual price increase that made me choose between streaming or receiving discs by mail. I know that I can receive both of the features if I pay for both but who wants to pay more for something that used to be included in the previous price? Then my cousin who works at Dish with me told me about Blockbuster At Home. I signed up last week and have never been happier. They have movies and television shows but they even let me order video games and blue ray discs at no extra charge. Now I can save money on games too! That’s one hundred thousand reasons for me to smile.

  • MARIA

    Netflix is the best streaming service eriod! Those who complaint probably work for competitors desperately trying to scare customers into their service. For $7.99 a month you have the best documentaries (thousands of them), classic movies and childrens’ cartoons while you have to pay hundreds of dollars to view some bs* network through cable. Other streaming services don’t even come close. HuluPlus is primitive in terms of picture and sound quality not to mention that they force you to watch ads (even though you pay). I haven’t found another service that is so good and so cheap. And I think that is the reason why they’ve been pounding the Netflix stock – they can’t beat it any other way so they try the stock market game. Netflix is still number one. Even if they triple the price it still is cheaper than all the c**p out there.
    As for Blockbuster??? Are you kidding me? In case you forgot we’re now in the 21 century.