(NEWS CENTER) - The major networks of streaming content are Netflix, with a base price of $7.99 a month,
then Hulu Plus -- also at 7.99 (Hulu does have a free side) and still shows commercials by the way, then Amazon Prime which is a yearly subscription of $79. That includes some free streaming... But there are some TV shows and movies you still have to pay an al la-carte fee for. Finally iTunes which is *all* a la-carte... meaning you can buy a season pass of a TV series or you can buy a show episode by episode. Now none of these guarantee that all of your favorite show will be there when you want it. And there will likely be more choices in the future.
But if you don't want to watch your shows on your computer, how do you access them on your TV?
The two most popular ways to do this are on either Apple TV or Roku.
Apple TV cost a one time fee of $100 and works off of your iTunes account.
It allows streaming of Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, MLB and a few other apps on your TV.
Another benefit to Apple TV is it can do what we call "mirroring" from newer apple computers, iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches. Mirroring allows for you to play something off your devices and then send he signal to your Apple TV and watch it on the big screen. This works with most video apps on your device.
Roku has a variety of models and costs between $70 and 100.
Rokus also streams Netflix, Hulu and also Amazon. They then go one step further with many channels from networks.
So there is a PBS channel, a channel for the HBO, ScyFy and hundreds more. Most of these are free. There are even TimeWarner Cable and DirectTV channels. There is not a YouTube channel or any easy way to access your iTunes account, but there are alternatives if you're a bit more tech savvy.
There are also number of blu-ray players that give you access to Hulu and Netflix too.
There's also a service called Aereo that has a lot of people buzzing...what's that?
Aereo has been broadcasting in NYC for the last year and is now expanding into Boston.
Basically it has a bunch of antennaes and it takes the free "over the air" signal, then broadcasts that to anyone who has signed up for the service -- in that area. So it's only the over the air signal that is broadcasted.
They also offer a DVR service for a fee too. Users of the service can then watch their shows on a mobile device.
Their fees vary depending on what you want. You can do a monthly pass at $8 or yearly or even daily.
How quickly do shows arrive on Netflix, Hulu or iTunes?
Each one is different. Hulu and iTunes shows usually show up after they've aired on the West Coast -- so usually the next morning.
Amazon and Netflix are different. Netflix is not a guarantee -- they need to have an agreement with the networks that broadcast the show. If they do, it usually shows up after the whole season has aired - commercial free.
Amazon has roughly the same deal, but they also have an iTunes like deal with a lot of networks. So many shows will pop-up there after they air the next day too. Again it's different depending on the network. But the point is you won't be watching them as they air on TV.
All three Hulu, Netflix and Amazon are also now creating their own original programming like HBO.
Arrested Development and House of Cards are the two big ones for Netflix.
So if someone really wants to cut the cord, they need to do a little work for it?
Yes, it's not for everyone. Some people, who still want live TV will get an antenna themselves and try to tune in a signal at their house. Others simply go shopping and see what services has the shows they want and what works for them. If you end up signing up for every streaming service -- you end up paying essentially what you did with the cable or satellite company. If you stick with the big guys, Hulu and Netflix and just those two for the year you'll pay $189 for the whole year. That's a little more than 1 cable bill a month (with Internet included).
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