So, we all know that cable is quickly becoming obsolete, especially for college students. Streaming has been blowing up over the past few years, with countless new sites popping up seemingly every month. For the most part, Netflix has held a good grip on the market, but lately they’ve been up against some strong competition. As a student, how are you supposed to choose? Here’s a quick guide to the best streaming sites out there, and a few things to avoid.
The best place to start would be the biggest, and in this case, that’s Netflix. Netflix has been the number one streaming service out there since they made the switch from purely mail-order DVD. Everyone seems to have an account these days, or at the very least knows someone who lets them use theirs. Given that, Netflix has been hitting a bit of a wall with their content lately. Their exclusive shows and movies are by far the best coming from a streaming site, but the rest of their library suffers because of it. It’s a great place for new content and some big hitters, but if you’re looking for a wide variety a quality movies, there are better sites.
Filmstruck is a bit of an oddity, and easily the most recent addition, but it’s absolute worthy of note. A collaboration between Turner Classic Movies and the Criterion Collection, Filmstruck is the biggest classic film streaming site on the market. Their entire catalog is filled with classic, foreign, and hard-to-find films with countless interviews and extras, and it continues to grow as Criterion and TCM add movies to their own internal collections. You won’t be finding any new releases or TV shows on here, which could be a problem for some, but as a site itself, Filmstruck has one of the best catalogs on the list.
If your main focus is TV, look no further than Hulu. Hulu focuses on currently airing and classic TV shows, with new episodes added the day after they air. Aside from a few select networks like FX and AMC, Hulu covers a huge percentage of current TV, making it hugely easy to watch whatever you want. Additionally, they’ve started to add extra content like Showtime and others while also hammering out some incredibly solid exclusive shows. The issue with Hulu, though, is that a lot of shows are locked behind a paywall and still have ads. However, if you’re hoping to stay caught up, this would be your best bet.
4) Amazon Video
Amazon Video has been absolutely killing it lately. With original award-winning shows like “Man in the High Castle,” “Transparent” and “Mozart in the Jungle,” as well as co-productions including “The Neon Demon,” Amazon has quickly become a major player in the streaming wars. Their collection of streamable films is unmatched, and with the addition of easy and cheap rentals, there’s rarely a film that you can’t watch here (aside from the niche stuff of Filmstruck). It costs a bit more than others to start, but the yearly student fee is more than manageable and comes with all the other benefits of Amazon Prime. It might not be as focused as Hulu or Netflix, but in this case that works out for the better.
5) HBO Now
HBO is probably the least integral streaming service, but it does have some benefits. For one, there’s only one place to see “Westworld” and “Game of Thrones” in full HD, and that’s through HBO. The network’s original content is by far the best of the bunch, adding original movies and one of the greatest collections of documentaries ever into their catalog. As an added bonus, HBO has arguably the best collection of streamable hits from the past few years, with movies appearing as soon as 8 months after their theatrical release. That said, HBO’s price point is a bit on the high side, but the original content makes a good case for why.
Now, streaming has some things you should keep an eye out for. Namely, avoid free streaming sites like the plague. This doesn’t include network-focused streaming, like on AMC’s or Comedy Central’s own website, but the shady off-network streamers. Sites like Putlocker, ProjectFreeTV, and Couchtuner have grown in popularity lately, but they come with a catch: it’s technically illegal. Many of these sites use unofficial TV recordings and are lined to the brim with ads and Malware, and are really just best left alone. If you’re itching to watch a certain show, chances are there is somewhere you can watch it legally and at a much better quality. Anyways, if you want networks to keep making shows, they need to get the money from somewhere. A few bucks a month for some peace of mind is nothing, but just make sure you choose the best site for your style.
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