netflix vrs starz vrs hbo vrs sling tv is about the comparison of these various Internet TV providers by a residential architectural firm. THIS ARTICLE UPDATED 3-4-2019 & 4-8-2019 & 5-17-2019.
This Architect made an Internet TV post a few weeks ago and now they’re comparing the providers, after personally testing them, one at a time. This article was first written 12/14/2016 and the content, pricing and other features of the Internet TV providers below may have been updated since this date. Not responsible for updates to prices, content or other changes since then.
FIRST; GET DSL OR FIBEROPTIC
After obtaining a 3.5 Mbps rating on the DSL line to the house, the firm tried Internet TV. Fiberoptic would be much better, but this wasn’t available in this area. If you can get up to 50 Mbps, do so. The 3.5 works, but once in a while, we have buffering going on, particularly if you’re using bandwidth through email computers using the same cable serving your house, but you learn quickly what to turn off to improve your watching clarity. You can get pixelation if you try to do more that one TV and also involve computers online. So you if you have more than 2 people in your house, you really want to get as much bandwidth as possible. Some locations (like ours) don’t have many options.
No monthly charge. This is a small electronic device. You do buy the devices and own them. Very reasonable. These are the devices that interpret the DSL or fiberoptic incoming signal and convert them into the various Internet TV providers. A must-have, in our opinion, however, you can get other devices to do this if you wish. We obtained 3 Rokus: a Roku4 (the latest and most capable) for our main big screen HD flatscreen, with a Cat6 internet cable directly connected to our HD modem, and 2 of the small Rokus that look like a flash drive and receive their signal via wi-fi. Got them at Best Buy. Good interface and intuitive to use. Arranges your various providers (which you may have referred to as “stations” when on regular or cable TV) as large logos. For instance, NetFlix, Showtime, HBO, Sling and other providers have their square logo arranged on the Roku screen and you can use the Roku controller to scroll up and down, then you click on the provider you want to watch.
1st BIG DIRTY SECRET OF ALL ONLINE VIDEO PROVIDERS THESE DAYS
None of the providers will want you to hear/see what we’re about to share with you: NONE of the Internet providers these days (or cable, for that matter) seem to offer much in the way of the latest (most recent) big, blockbuster movies that you can otherwise rent at RedBox. You CAN Buy or Rent these latest movies online using various providers, but you’re going to quickly discover that they are Expensive! Much more than renting from RedBox (which is usually $1.75 to $2.25, depending on DVD or BluRay). Renting a movie or buying a very recent movie online is expensive! Like perhaps $5.99+/- to rent and $14 or more to buy. Of course, all the providers that offer such arrangements want you to buy or rent their most recent big movies, because they make more money. You, of course, would prefer to not do that, because you are already paying for other online services and you feel that’s enough.
What’s that you say? You have online HBO, so you think that you DO have the latest blockbuster movies from your online provider? Check again. We believe you’re going to find that the overwhelming majority of movies on ANY online video provider (all of them) have very few “latest and greatest” movies that you may have recently noticed “downtown in movie theaters”. There may be a very little few. Like one, two or three. But finding them on most providers is like trying to find the needle in the haystack. We got frustrated with one of our old favorites, HBO in this regard. Which is what caused us to jump ship to Starz, until we discovered they did pretty much the same thing, so we jumped to NetFlix. And while we enjoy certain features from each of these providers, NONE of them appears to actually provide the richness of NEW movies that a physical service like RedBox does. That’s just the way it is.
2nd DIRTY SECRET OF NEARLY ALL ONLINE VIDEO PROVIDERS
There’s a new term in the video world these days: “Binge watching.” This means that there are TV series that you can watch, one episode after the other (in a library of episodes), watching an entire series, even several pre-recorded seasons, over the course of several days or weeks. This library availability really isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually nice. It’s like the video version of reading a novel. Here’s a guess as to why this is happening: no doubt the large video providers have realized certain benefits to having their own original productions. Perhaps even package deals with the actors, themselves. This may create certain advantages to the studio, production company and/or online provider in terms of watcher loyalty, lower overall costs over time, and of course, possible copyright retainage possibilities.
This seems to be a growing trend, which means, providers like NetFlix are in large part growing due to this new type of viewing. However, this may not bode well for new, big production “movie theater” movies of the future.
$20 or $25/month or more with various options. A HUGE amount of content; possibly the largest of any provider. Sling TV was okay, but seemed, at that time to be sorely lacking in new mainstream content, of the sort you might expect at say, a Red Box. Sling does have an enormous content library online and that is great. But if you’re really looking for new content, rather than movies from several years ago (although they do have some from this year), you may be disappointed. And the sticker price for their Orange Plan was $20/month, their Blue Plan $25 and you can add HBO for another $14.99. So we had a $40/month plan.
After previously paying around $90/month for either DirectTV or DISH, we reveled in the bargain. But it was cumbersome using the interface to try to scan all of the thousands of offerings to try to find the jewel in the hay, as far as new content was concerned, so we bailed after a couple of months.
We tried this for a month directly through the Roku. It disappointed us, in terms of mainly having older movies and not updating their newer movies very often. Game of Thrones has a robust library, but after the wife binged through them all, there really wasn’t much point to keeping it, unless you enjoy dated movies. Disheartening. This used to be the must-have latest and greatest. Not anymore. Reluctantly, I terminated this.
Probably will renew when GOT new season begins, or near to its end so wife can binge through the new ones at that point, then turn it off again, like a water faucet.
I like StarZ. I personally liked it better than HBO. And for a lower price.
They had some respectable offerings, but after blowing through their more recent content in terms of series and movies, we exhausted their newer productions in about a month. Terminated it. Once again, discovered the newer movie offerings to be limited. Good library of more dated items. Has their own bloodthirsty and more comedic offering “Ash versus the Evil Dead” in lieu of TWD, if that sort of thing entertains you.
Some very good series, like Davinci’s Demons and once again, the wife binged through Outlander, which was definitely female-oriented and not as action-packed as what’s about to be described next:
$9.99/month for standard HD. UPDATE: NOW $12.99/MONTH.
Boom. The pundits are right! What a bonanza of new and nearly new series. There’s probably enough content to keep most people happy for a long time. Not enough hours in a day, week, month or year to watch all of the interesting shows, both in terms of series and movies. Wow! Unbelievable number of series, many of them produced by Netflix. But who cares who makes the content, as long as it is good and interesting?
However, while there are some recent movies, most of them appear to be of a lesser production value, with the occasional big blockbuster. At least Netflix organizes their content in a user-friendly manner: including “Recent Releases” which helps to understand where the new offerings are. Also, NetFlix has an interface in which they will email you notices of their latest content! I like that a lot. However: NetFlix ain’t Redbox. If you want the most recent, biggest movies, you’re still going to have to make that physical trip to the red kiosk.
Luke Cage (very macho and action packed)
House of Cards (haven’t seen yet, but this is one of the most popular series on the planet right now).
Stranger Things (X-files meets teenagers)
The Crown (there’s the anglophile thang to make the wife happy again)
Black Mirror (haven’t watched yet, but looks interesting)
AMC The Walking Dead (which was one of Sling’s claim to fame)
Honestly, I’ve watched some of these and don’t understand why people enjoy watching poor retched souls in some sort of nightmarish purgatory, lurching about, eating each other and trying to eat you, get taken out by all sorts of creatively ghoulish methods from running them over with trucks to smashing their brains with baseball bats. Not watching anymore, but you are welcome to do so, if your stomach’s up to it. Evidently this is very popular. I guess it was vampires a decade ago, now it’s zombies, as nearly every Internet TV station seems to have their version of these pathetic souls stumbling about, with the heroes killing them like so many weeds in the way. Perhaps in another few years it’ll be all werewolves. Lon Chaney, where are you?
Narcos ( interesting)
Medici Masters of Florence (there’s another one for the wife to binge on)
The 100 (haven’t seen)
Daredevil (not bad. The Affleck movie was better)
Marco Polo (wife country here again, but might be okay for guys as well. haven’t seen yet. Will update if warranted).
Jessica Jones (Ok, but she like to shack up with Luke Cage, which once again gets into a kinky girl thang, not a guy series)
Orange is the new Black (kind of interesting, but depressing)
Paranoid (looks interesting)
Glitch (sounds very interesting. Saw some of this)
ARQ (Sci-Fi. Have not seen, but will)
Bloodline (sounds interesting)
Limitless (like this, but it tends to be formulaic after a while)
Club of Cuervos (not sure about this, haven’t seen yet)
Dusk to Dawn (series: sure to be gruesome and thrilling simultaneously, if you’re into bloodthirsty graphic violence)
The Fall (starring Xfile’s Gillian Anderson: It was good. She has grown up a lot since the Mulder & Scully days. She likes sex and is much tougher than she used to be)
DCs Legends of Tomorrow
Blue Bloods (I always like this)
Person of Interest (used to like, until they seemed to lose their direction)
Tales by Light
Peaky Blinders (my wife saw this entire series and seemed to enjoy)
And even more series…
And a bunch of newer movies. And older movies, if you want them. Hundreds, if not thousands. Appreciate that some programming/content manager appears to be on the ball with getting fresh, newer movies. Yay! They get it.
UPDATE: months later. Still on Netflix: they trump all other internet TV options. But finding new movies is tough. RedBox is still better than most offerings here. But still better than Sling, StarZ or even HBO, in our opinion.
There is much to watch on NetFlix than anything else we’ve seen so far, in terms of quality, new and newer content (with the exception of Prime Video (Amazon). They blow ever other provider out of the water with their series (except Prime Video). Not seen anything else that compares to date (except Prime Video). New. Bold. Creative. Inspired. And the movies are mostly good, some great.
I get the feeling that NetFlix is a major motion picture production company, not just an Internet channel. These folks are in it for the duration and have a major commitment to new, great content to please their viewers. (And Prime Video appears to be as well). Even though they can’t compare to RedBox (the little red kiosks in grocery stores and WalMarts with DVDs and BlueRays for rent of newer movies).
$10.99/month. No commercials. One outstanding series.
We really only seem to watch BILLIONS on this channel.
The movies are Not plentiful and there are Not many recent movie releases. There are some more series, but nothing seems to hold our attention beyond Billions. Considering terminating after the most recent season of Billions, then in 2020, renew After the new season of Billions, binge watch it, then terminate after a week or so.
I couldn’t even get through one episode of Shameless, I don’t understand what other people see in it, although I think William H. Macy is a great actor (even though he is compelled to do ridiculous things with the scripts he’s given in this series). And I’ve gotten tired of Don Cheadle’s condescending snide know-it-all bad attitude on this (Black Monday) and other series where I used to enjoy him. And why does he only seem to mainly want to screw and impregnate white women? What’s that all about? Some sort of reverse racism thang or something? And Ray Donovan used to be a rock solid series, but it has diverged into some sort of surrealistic BS that I don’t understand or want to. They messed with the formula and cooked up something weird and unappealing, at least for me. Like taking someone like Tom Selleck and giving him LSD. That wouldn’t work. And Tom’s sticking to his formula on CBS (Blue Bloods) which is why he’s still working and much liked by my family and millions of other people. And Showtime’s SMILF should be abhorred by feminists everywhere: Do you understand what “SMILF” stands for? And at least for the couple of episodes I struggled to get through, the show seems to depict the heroine as fighting to hop into bed with any schmuck she meets. And I hate the cutesy title they give each episode, like: “2 burgers and shit pie.” Makes me want to bitch slap the producers. Gonna terminate.
EPIX (UPDATED 3-4-2019)
$5.99/month. No commercials. Good fresh movies.
We’ve heard a lot of naysayers about this premium movie channel.
Right now, during the free trial on Roku, we’re liking this. A lot. It is about the ONLY online channel service that has about as close to Red Box era near-first-run movies as you’re going to find. And we haven’t yet experienced any of their movies as being “Not Available” as some critics have said. That may change when we’re paying and not in a free trial. But so far, we’re very impressed. THIS IS ABOUT THE ONLY ONLINE CHANNEL YOU’RE GOING TO FIND WITH NEAR FIRST-RUN MOVIES. AND A BUNCH OF THEM. Probably because MGM owns it. They don’t have to pay a middleman to broadcast the shows. We’re noticing perhaps 20 to 30 near first-run movies here and many, many, many other good movies in their library going back decades. Very addicting. Closest thing you’re going to find to RedBox and for even less than what they charge, once you pay the monthly pittance Epix currently charges. THIS IS WHAT WE HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR, IN TERMS OF A NEW MOVIE CHANNEL. IN OUR OPINION, MUCH BETTER THAN HBO. THIS IS WHAT HBO USED TO BE.
And they also have EPIX-only series. Amazing. They obviously have noticed the Netflix success with their series. Mark our words: Epix is going to become a major contender. We can’t guarantee anything, of course, but they are the dark horse in the rear of the pack, beginning their sprint to the finish line, passing others in the process. And once again: we are watching a free trial. We do not know what, if anything will change once we convert to the monthly subscription.
BTW: if you get EPIX through ROKU, we see that all of our subscriptions are there (except, curiously, not our Netflix?) and therefore, EPIX should be easy to cancel if we want to do so, through the ROKU easy interface. I hate having to “manage account”s through websites. They never seem easy. But Roku’s interface is about as easy as they come and I have personally cancelled, obtained, restarted and cancelled many channels since getting Roku to manage all of our accounts. So those people who complain about stopping EPIX, I’m not sure what their interface is. If you get it through Roku, in our opinion, it should be easy to manage, start and stop.
4-1-2019 UPDATE: we have blown through all the movie content in EPIX and we have become disappointed that their new month did NOT appear to provide much new content, especially in terms of newer movies. They kept most of the movies from the previous month and sprinkled in what appeared to be 5 or 6 new ones. Terminated it.
CBS ALL ACCESS
$5.99/month with limited commercials and worth it.
Highly recommend. Probably one of the best 2 network TV stations that have outstanding series:
Twilight Zone (new)
Seal Team (outstanding show)
Star Trek (the new one).
Magnum PI (the new one).
Strange Angel (started out interesting, but very quickly became too weird).
FBI (excellent series that shows how a devoted lady FBI agent and a Muslim American FBI agent can work together to solve tough cases in record time.).
and other premium series.
Madame Secretary (although I weary of her obvious intention of trying to be a better version of Hillary Clinton, who never did the capable things Tea Leoni does on the show. Like her husband on the show played by Tim Daly, who seems to keep the show grounded, while executing risky and interesting intelligence missions behind the scenes. Don’t care for her whiny kids, except the older daughter, played by Wallis Currie-Wood). The inclusion of an over-the-top transgender gal on Tea’s staff is a distraction and an obvious attempt at left wing political statements. Gets in the way of more important business of running the country, the political correctness of the show becomes irritating and ultimately caused me to tune out.
The Good Fight (excellent acting, but the left-wing politics gets in the way and may ultimately cause me to bail on the show).
BOTTOM LINE: my family typically sees what’s new on CBS, then moves on to the other channels. That’s saying a lot.
ABC and NBC
Free online with usually last week’s shows, but typically not with the robustness of CBS’s paid option above.
both are accessible with the last week’s shows online. This seems to be something of a secret. ABC has some very good shows, like Designated Survivor and the Good Doctor. NBC’s been disappointing us and doesn’t seem to have the same popularity as ABC or CBS.
PRIME VIDEO (AMAZON)
This is one of the pricier online video/ movie/ TV series options at presently $12.99/month, but you can prebuy a year for $99.99 (right now), reducing the monthly rate to a mere $8.33. Which makes it less than Netflix on a yearly basis. SO FAR, PRIME VIDEO IS HEAD AND SHOULDERS ABOVE JUST ABOUT ANY OTHER OFFERING. They stomp everything else with their volume of recent movies and series. Delighted with their ability to provide quality recent series (which they appear to produce) and their newer movies from within the last year. Suggest considering the yearly rate and go ahead and pay in advance so your monthly average rate is much less. Don’t think you’ll regret it.
UPDATE 5/17/2019: okay: after having this in place for more than a month, I finally understand what they’re doing: They have a whole bunch of current movies, dated from this year, last year and the year before. Makes viewers think that these are legitimate movies with big name actors that were directed and written by the likes of Spielberg. Nah. Think again. By far, Most of these “current” shows are Class B efforts with actors you’ve likely never heard of, much less the producers and directors and writers. The number of stars is typically around 3 out of 5. Kind of reminds me of the Beardo Moving Company ad: “Hey we don’t get 2-1/2 stars for nothing.” Well, perhaps not nothing, but certainly not top notch efforts. Don’t get me wrong. For instance, Nicholas Cage is probably one of the harded working actors in the biz. But you’re going to see more B shows he’s been in that the high-quality movies that most of us might recall. Many of his B movies never played on the big screen. Now that there are internet channels, B movies have a whole new market. Instead of dying a quiet death when not run uptown, they are sold to internet channels at a discount. Some of that is speculation, but I’m guessing it’s not far from the mark.
One of the exceptions on Amazon Prime are some of the original Prime series. Like JUSTIFIED, with Timothy Olyphant, who, while still fairly young, is a seasoned actor from major motion pictures. He does a great job. And lo and behold, Elmore Leonard himself is producing this series. That’s assurance of some hard-boiled quality. And there are some others. Like Kate Beckinsale in THE WIDOW. Some very good acting and interesting plots and subplots. Even brother Numsey (Charles Dance) is in this one, always sure to make someone’s blood run cold. And BOSCH (starring Titus Welliver), written and produced by the book series author of the same name.
And there are some B movies with major actors, like Morgan Freeman, Tommy Lee Jones and Rene Russo, all of whom are very credible actors, but that doesn’t always guarantee a great movie experience. And there are what appears to be many more of the B movies (albeit recent) than the big screen blockbusters that we might hope for. But there are a few big movies, they are just older typically.
They do offer, for $3.99, access to some of the more recent movies that RedBox does. Which is a step in the right direction.
Hard to go wrong terminating one service, going through its best, latest movies and series, then if it starts to feel stale, terminating that one and moving on to another. NetFlix may be the exception to this, with a very strong and current offering of new content in series and movies. But if we ever sense this isn’t the case, then Showtime and other offerings await. And we can make a grand circuit, moving from one set of providers to another, every few weeks or months, as we wish, and taking another turn through each of them. You decide when you want to stop and start. No contracts anymore and you own the very economical equipment. Easy and rather empowering. VERY different experience from satellite TV, whose days are obviously numbered (e.g.: Sling is owed by DISH).
OUR SELECTION RIGHT NOW
As of 4-8-2019, here’s our online video mix:
1. PRIME VIDEO (Amazon): $99.99/year = $8.33/month.
2. NETFLIX: $12.99 (HD)/month.
3. CBS All Access: $5.99/month
4. HBO (only to binge GOT once a year for a week): $14.99 for only 1 month a year.
5. SHOWTIME: $10.99/month, but will soon terminate, then, like HBO, will only renew for one month a year, after all the new Billions episodes have posted for the new year.
So the AVERAGE cost per month= $30.16
Considering we used to pay around $100/month for cable, we consider this a true value for excellent content.