Streaming content online is becoming more popular than ever, and that means more companies fighting for their share of the market. This leaves the consumer with tons of options when it comes to choosing your content providers. However, that also means that very few of these services will be able to give you all the content you need. Let’s take a look at the different types of streaming services.
On-demand streaming services completely changed the way we view content. Rather than turning on the television and seeing what each channel is broadcasting, the user can select what they would like to watch from a catalogue of options. The most obvious examples of these types of services are Netflix and Hulu.
With an on demand service, the company pays the creators of the content (often a TV network or movie producer) for the rights to include the content in their service. This means these companies have thousands of contracts for a variety of TV shows, movies, and more that are always changing and evolving. This also often means that these services are getting the content months or years after it has been live.
The consumer will usually pay a monthly fee for access to this content, allowing them to watch whatever they want whenever they want. Some of these services choose to give you the content in a more traditional manner by inserting advertisements in the usual spots (this helps them cover some of the costs of those contracts). Others will offer their services ad-free, giving you an uninterrupted viewing experience. However, these usually come at a higher cost.
Live TV Services
Live TV services take a different, but familiar approach to watching content. Following the lead of the well established cable television market, live TV services give you a package of “channels” you can watch at any time.
This approach clearly has some drawbacks compared to an on demand service – if you find something you want to watch, you have usually missed the beginning, and have to rush to the bathroom during commercial breaks. However for many, the live aspect is very appealing. No one wants to watch the Superbowl or the Grammys the day after. By then, the surprise is spoiled and you’ve missed out on your opportunity. This is what allows these types of services to survive in this competitive landscape.
Nowadays, many traditional cable networks opt to put their content online. While some offer access to watch the channel live right in the app or web browser, others limit you to watching reruns of old episodes (often with plenty of ads interjected in the traditional slots). This usually results in some sort of mesh of on-demand and live tv, meaning these types of services often vary in what they provide you. However, the one thing they usually have in common is that they exclusively provide their own network’s content.
The good news is that many of these networks provide these services to you for free as long as you have an active cable subscription with one of their supported providers. Simply find the website (or download the app), select your provider, and log in! However, it is important to note that not all networks give you this option. Some go even further as to charge an additional cost on top of your cable bill, so it is important to learn more about each of the network-owned services.