Recent events with COVID-19
are sure to see us all spending more time inside our connected homes over coming months road testing the best streaming services for lockdown. That doesn’t need to be an entirely bad thing and we should all do what we can in these challenging times to make the very best out of the situation. One positive that we’ll be exploring over the next couple weeks is an unwitting mass experiment with remote working. Many companies have found this much easier to achieve than they might have imagined. We’re excited to see how the gig economy develops and what lasting changes will come from this chaos. The other and more immediate benefit is having some precious downtime on your hands. The hands you’re remembering to wash on a regular basis! So, what better way to take your mind off things than to head to the home theater
for some movie action?
Top 10 Streaming Services for Lockdown
- HBO NOW / HBO GO
- Amazon Prime Video
- Sling TV
- YouTube TV
- Apple TV+
Starting at just $9 a month and offering you up to 4 simultaneous streams, Netflix
is the OG of the streaming vertical and needs no introduction. Indeed, with Netflix and Chill
, the brand has even entered the vernacular. Why does this service exercise such a stranglehold, though? Well, the unlimited streaming of movies, TV shows, and original programming is the main draw. You won’t find any restrictive limits in place. When you consider quality, consistency, and choice, no other service can really rival Netflix. The shift in business model away from third-party media in favor of Netflix Originals keeps them ahead of the curve. And it keeps you fully stocked with all the entertainment you could want for the looming period of lockdown. The major drawback with Netflix is the way shows come and go so you won’t always get what you want despite a staggering choice of content. While not as costly as HBO – more on that below – Netflix is still not the cheapest streaming service. We’d urge you to consider overall value, though. We’d also suggest you think back just a few years when you’d think nothing of spending money to rent movies. With those Blockbuster
days consigned to history, ask yourself if less than ten bucks a month for on-tap entertainment is really too much. If it is, you’ve got a wealth of other options like Hulu at your disposal.
2) HBO NOW / HBO GO
With HBO streaming
, you can use up to three simultaneous streams with packages starting from $15 monthly. You have two choices here:
HBO NOW: For all you cord-cutters
HBO GO: For existing cable and satellite customers
Despite the different names, content is identical on both these platforms. Top-tier content Westworld and Game of Thrones means you can binge all your favorite shows on demand. You should note that if you’re an existing customer opting for HBO NOW, you won’t need to pay an extra fee. Just download it and you’ve got an extra string to your bow. As well as all those TV shows, you’ll find a treasure trove of old movies, too. HBO is supported by:
- Apple TV
- Fire TV
- Samsung smart TVs
If you’re basing your decision purely on the bottom line, HBO is not for you. If, however, you want premium content on-demand and you don’t object to $180 a year, it’s a smart choice.
Are you looking for bargain basement streaming with the global economy looking shaky? If so, Hulu
is the obvious solution. Starting at just $6 per month, great content doesn’t get much cheaper. If you’re looking for ad-free viewing, the cost jumps to $12 per month which is quite a jump. There’s a rich library of classics for you to explore. You can also choose from 60 channels of live programming. Overall, content could certainly be improved. There’s a lack of depth and a lack of 4K content, too. Stream on two devices simultaneously. If you’re a premium subscriber, you can download content for offline viewing. This is a valuable touch. The future of Hulu is uncertain since it’s controlled by Disney. As well outline below, Disney+ is continuing to strengthen so Hulu could conceivably be absorbed by the global giant at any time. Such is the nature of business today. For now, though, it remains a pocket-friendly choice for lockdown streaming sessions.
4) Amazon Prime Video
Starting life as a online bookseller, Amazon is continuing to expand its subscription model with Amazon Prime Video one of the finest streaming services you can find. Starting at $8.99 monthly, you can also get Amazon Prime Video
as a bolt-on of Prime membership for $12.99 monthly. Opt for this and you’ll also get free two-day delivery from Amazon deliveries Prime Video is much like Netflix with plenty of original series to choose from along with a roster of great movies. You can also take advantage of a healthy HBO back catalog including classics like The Wire and The Sopranos. If you’re looking for comedy or children’s programs, Prime Video is arguably your best bet. Movies are available but you’ll need to rent or buy them. This à la carte content is one of Amazon Prime Video’s main drawbacks. On these grounds alone, it’s hard to recommend the service unless you’re already a Prime member in which case it comes bundled.
5) Sling TV
gives you a virtual cable service starting at $30 per month. For this, you’ll enjoy roving access to thirty or so channels. Unlike conventional cable packages, you won’t need to sign a prohibitive contract. There’s no set-top box to rent either so you’ll slash ongoing costs. With a clutch of ESPN channels onboard, Sling TV makes perfect sense for sports fans. What else do you get, then? Well, you’ll find CNN and ABC along with the Food Network and the Cartoon Network. There really is something for everyone. Sling TV is a cord-cutter’s perfect antidote to cable but you should note that on-demand content is seriously limited.
You’re likely to want multiple streams with Disney+
and you can have up to four starting out from $7 monthly. As you know, Disney has an unrivalled bench of kid-friendly content with assets from Star Wars and Marvel to The Simpsons. Indeed, if you fancy some Homer action, dip in to more than thirty seasons to keep you entertained all throughout the looming lockdown.
Much of the content at your fingertips comes in 4K resolution with HDR fully supported. The app is particularly easy to use and everything is handily grouped by genre. You obviously don’t get the depth of content delivered by Amazon or Netflix but for kid-specific content, there’s no better streaming service than Disney+. You can try before you buy, too, with a 7-day trial so you’ve really got nothing to lose.
7) YouTube TV
If you want a stress-free approach to streaming, why not consider YouTube TV
? At $40 a month, this is not the cheapest streaming service out there. If you’re motivated mainly by the bottom line, try one of the plentiful cheaper options. If you don’t mind digging a little deeper, what will you get? 60 channels of content and cloud DVR are currently available in roughly a hundred US markets. Many of the top networks are represented from Fox and ESPN to CNN and NBC. The Travel Channel, Animal Planet, and the Discovery Network adds some valuable extra variety to the mix. As you’d expect, you’ll get a vast array of music, too. You can add channels as well if the baseline offering doesn’t quite deliver. Bolt on channels like NBA League Pass or Showtime and broaden your viewing further.
8) Apple TV+
doesn’t come with a deep content vault. As compensation, it’s currently priced accordingly at $4.99 a month. We expect that to rise as Apple segue into a subscription model. Where most other streaming services are available on the major gaming consoles, you’ll get none of that with Apple TV+. They really need to work on this ASAP. You can harness up to 6 simultaneous streams which is welcome. You should get a free year’s subscription when you buy an Apple device. Apple TV+ plays nicely with:
- Amazon Fire TV
- Samsung Smart TVs
If you’re not convinced this lean service meets your needs – and it might very well not – give it a free 7-day trial.
is heavily centered on sports but has a little more to offer, too. You get 108 channels meaning there’s something for the whole family. Some on-demand content is 4K. The base monthly plan is $54.99 so this is definitely not cheap. That said, if you think about the cost of attending games, it suddenly starts to seem like great value. Although provided, cloud DVR storage is limited. The other serious gripe about this sports streaming service is the omission of ESPN and ABC, both owned by Disney. If you don’t mind the higher cost and you want plenty of variety, we’d recommend digging deeper into fuboTV.
goes back in time and allows you to enjoy some classic action movies along with plenty of animé. The roster includes movies, TV shows, and original programming. There’s no subscription at all with this free service. As you’d expect, the flipside of this is an ad-heavy experience. While it rates a mention since it’s free, this is the weakest offering on our list by far. We certainly can’t recommend going out of your way to check out Crackle.
Well, you now have absolutely no excuse to cry boredom. Get amongst any of these streaming services and you’ll have more than enough entertainment at your fingertips. Whether you want vintage movies, all the new releases or a sports-fest, there’s something for everyone today. We’re also acutely aware you’ll be spending more time at home so we’ll be with you every step of the way. We’ll be bringing you all we can to keep you occupied and fully abreast of all the latest smart home news
. Now would also be a great time to sign up for our email newsletter
. You’ll get even more content zipped straight to your inbox. As a final kicker, we’ll even throw in a coupon code giving you 20% off your first order here at Smarthome