It’s mid-summer, and that means networks are still trying to fill the airwaves with reality shows. There are a number of alternatives to an otherwise monotonous evening if you are bored with broadcast television this season.
Cable/satellite television offer Video on Demand (VOD). Watch a recently released movie for a fee of approximately $5.00, depending on the release date. You can drive to Redbox at McCaffrey’s or Shoprite and pay $1.50 per DVD or $2.00 per Blu-ray rental, and must return it the next day, but the convenience and guaranteed availability are the advantages of VOD. It’s twice the price for instant gratification, and it can get pricey if you are looking for content daily.
If you own a Smart TV, BluRay player, game console (Play Station, Wii, Xbox), steaming box (Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Roku, Google Nexus Player), streaming stick (Amazon Fire, Chromecast, or Roku), Android/iOS tablet, smart phone or iPod Touch, you have access to a lot of content via apps. Some of the most popular choices are Amazon Prime Instant Video, Encore Play, EPIX, HBO GO, Hulu, Max GO, Movieplex Play, Netflix, Showtime Anytime, Starz Play, and Crackle. All are based on a subscription except for Crackle which is free, but it plays commercials. You can also view their content via the web. Also on their site or app, CinemaNow, Flixster, M-GO, and Vudu allow you to purchase or rent movies/TV shows, plus watch UltraViolet movies, which are digital copies you have purchased or received free from select BluRay discs.
Not all apps are available on all devices. Namely, Apple TV has the most limits. You can bypass that by using Airplay via an Apple mobile device to mirror authorized apps onto a larger screen.
The cable channels have a number of Emmy winning and nominated original shows to offer. You can now choose the stand-alone streaming services HBO NOW ($14.99/month) to catch episodes of shows like Broadway Empire, Game of Thrones, True Detective, and VEEP and Showtime ($11/month) to see Homeland, Nurse Jackie, Shameless, and Weeds to name a few. Additionally, they offer movies, sports and documentaries.
Starz Play boasts original content including Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson’s Power and Ken Follet’s The Pillars of the Earth along with movies (35+ family films), Encore Play streams TV series and movies (50 family), Movieplex Play strictly offers movies (5+ family), and EPIX also only shows movies (50 family), but offers the most recent selection of (non-family) films of all cable providers.
The streaming platforms are fighting back hard. Netflix ($7.99-$11.99/month) offers the strongest body of original work. It has received 34 Emmy nominations from their 24 original series, plus two documentaries and one special this year (House of Cards – 11, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt– 7, Orange is the New Black – 4, Marvel’s Daredevil – 3, Bloodline – 2, Virunga – 2, Grace and Frankie – 1, Derek Special -1, Chef’s Table – 1, Hot Girls Wanted – 1, and Marco Polo -1). Amazon Prime Instant Video ($99/year or $50/year-students) has been nominated for only two of their nine original series, but Transparent got 11 nods and Bosch received one. Unfortunately, Hulu ($7.99/month) didn’t make the Emmy cut this year, but have 18 original series under its belt. You can add on the stand-alone Showtime for the discounted price of $8.99/month if you subscribe to Hulu. The streaming services also provide other original content, plus movies and documentaries.
Whether you choose cable or stand-alone streaming options, all will give you the opportunity to binge watch series on demand. There are several advantages of binge watching.
- Entire season/series will be cohesive
- Continuity makes viewing more exciting
- Good alternative to watching a movie
- Make your own marathons (good reason to invite over some friends)
- Catch up to the latest episode
Unfortunately, most options come with a price tag, so Crackle is your only choice free choice if you have cut the cord from cable and satellite. If not, you can watch shows on demand from the following networks: ABC, ABC Family, A&E, AMC, Bravo, Cartoon Network, CBS, The CW, Discovery Channel, Disney, Disney Jr, Disney XD, DIY, E!, ESPN, Food Network, Fox, HGTV, History, Lifetime, NBC, MTV, Nick Jr, Oxygen, PBS, Smithsonian Channel, Spike, TBS, TLC, TNT, Travel, USA, VH-1 online, or through apps.
As you can tell, there are other options to watching The Bachelorette, Big Brother, Celebrity Wife Swap or re-runs. Discover new shows, catch up on episodes, re-watch an entire season or series, or finally screen that movie you’ve been waiting to see instead of settling for some of the fluff that’s filling the airwaves. It’s all a click away in the privacy of your own home or on the go.