Streaming video services have become more popular over the years, and many people are using streaming services in place of a regular television subscription. With so many services available, how can you tell which one is best for you?

Here’s is a nifty comparison of the three biggest services, and what they have to offer.

Netflix Streaming

Cost: $7.99/month
Free Trial: 1- Month
Additional Services: DVD plans starting at $4.99/month
Access: Internet, tablet and phone apps, Sony Blu-Ray and PlayStation, Wii, X-box, and certain smart TVs

Established in 1997, Netflix is the oldest of all the providers profiled, and has one of the most extensive video libraries. It was one of the first services to offer a one-month free trial, and Netflix has had the free trial at one month for a long time.

Pros:

  • You can watch all Netflix content on any web-enabled device;
  • The free trial includes both streaming content and DVD delivery—you can have up to eight DVDs out at a time;
  • Offers original programming, such as “Orange is the New Black,” and “Arrested Development,”;
  • Offers full seasons of popular TV shows, including “Downton Abbey,” and “Breaking Bad”;
  • They organize their interface by category to make it easier to find something to watch;
  • They are constantly updating their video library;
  • No contracts, you can cancel or change your subscription at any time;
  • Netflix streaming runs smoothly, even on slower internet connections.

Cons:

  • Some movies and shows are not available streaming, but you can get them if you add a DVD service to your plan;
  • Netflix occasionally purges videos from their library, making them no longer available for streaming.

Hulu Plus

Cost: $7.99/month
Free Trial: 1 Week
Additional Services: None
Access: Internet, tablet and phone apps, Sony Blu-Ray and PlayStation, Wii, X-box, and certain smart TVs
Established in 2007, HULU was a joint venture between several television networks to stream their content over the internet.

Pros:

  • HULU shows the latest episodes of your favorite shows the day after they broadcast;
  • You can also watch classic and imported TV Shows—they have an extensive collection of Korean TV;
  • A HULU Plus membership includes access to classic movies from the Criterion Collection, such as “Three Colors, Blue”;
  • Hulu also offers original TV content;
  • No contracts. You can cancel at any time.

Cons:

  • Some television shows are not available through the HULU Plus App, which means you can’t access them on your phone or tablet. You can only watch them from an internet device with Flash installed;
  • You need to subscribe to a television provider, like DISH Network, to access some television shows. Those without a subscription could wait two weeks or more before that content is available;
  • Hulu streaming tends to stop and buffer a lot on slower internet connections;
  • The interface can be clunky and difficult to navigate.

Amazon Prime Instant Video

Cost: $79.99/year (Approx $6.67/month)
Free Trial: 1 Month with the purchase of a Kindle Fire Tablet
Additional Services: Pay-per-view streaming of movies and TV shows (Approx $2.99-$4.99 per movie/episode)
Access: Internet, Kindle Fire Tablets, Sony Blu-ray and PlayStation, and certain smart TVs

Amazon Prime was created in 2005 to provide subscribers with reduced shipping fees. In 2011, Amazon expanded the service offerings to include free video streaming, and other entertainment services, as companions to their Kindle Fire line of e-readers.

Pros:

  • Offers much of the same content at Netflix;
  • Offers original content;
  • Access is built-in to the Kindle Fire tablet.

Cons:

  • You have to pay for the full year up front;
  • There is currently no smart phone or tablet app for this service;
  • The interface is clunky and difficult to navigate;
  • Video streaming tends to stop and buffer on slower internet connections.

Netflix has a distinct advantage because you can watch all of its streaming offerings on any device versus Hulu and Amazon, which both have limitations. Also, after years in the business, Netflix has refined its services to provide consistent, stutter-free, streaming on even the most temperamental of web connections.