Online streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu have revolutionized how people get content into their living rooms, attracting a steady number of subscribers in the process. They are convenient, affordable, and almost always available. But that’s not to say they don’t come with disadvantages as well.
Let’s take a look at some of the Pros and Cons of the streaming services and how they stack up against comparative TV provider services.
Starting with the good, these are the reasons people subscribe to online streaming sites.
One of the best aspects of streaming sites is that the content is always available, letting you can watch the programming when it fits your schedule. No need to be home at the right time or worry about missing a show because you didn’t set your DVR to record it. It’s right there, in one place, whenever you want it.
Extensive Library of Content
Online streaming sites offer a lot of content. You can watch shows from decades past, today’s hits, movies, concerts, documentaries and tons more. Hulu carries thousands of titles and Netflix packs a whopping 75,000 plus. With all that diverse content it’s hard to imagine ever running out. Plus, both services offer both adult and kid friendly entertainment, so there’s something for the whole family.
If you travel a lot or want to watch content on the bus or in the park, online streaming services make it very easy. Most of them have apps for nearly every mobile device platform. Generally these apps let you access all the same content you would get if you were on your computer. What’s more, many TV manufacturers are coming with the apps built in, so as long as you have an internet connection, you can stream directly to your TV, without an additional device.
With all that good, there’s just got to be a downside to these streaming services, or everyone would have them, right? There are, in fact, several.
As of right now, somewhere between 20-40% of online traffic is a result streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. That’s a lot of bandwidth use! While internet technology is indeed getting wider and faster, allowing for more data-rich content, you can still get bottlenecked by your home network setup. If you try to stream over your home Wi-Fi, you can experience skips, delays, or lower resolutions if your network does not support the bandwidth required.
Additionally, many cell phone and tablet internet plans have data caps. Watching movies and shows through streaming services on those devices can quickly fill up that data cap, leading to extraneous charges from your provider.
Extensive Library of Content
You may have noticed that an extensive library of content is also a pro. While true, some of the streaming services sandbag their title counts with mediocre to poor content that very few people will actually watch. There are way more B-level flicks and obscure shows than there are A-list titles on Netflix.
This creates the additional problem of having to sift through all the bad titles to find ones that are good. By the time you do find something good, you may have moved on, opting not to watch a movie or show at all.
While the title counts are high, there are often limitations on content. For instance, you might be able to watch only the first few seasons of a series, leaving you hanging if you planned on having a full-on marathon or wanted to catch up to the current season.
Also, because of contracts with movie studios, very few new releases make it to streaming services. This means you have to often wait at least 30 days before any big titles, if you’re lucky. Furthermore, those same contracts also tend to expire. So if you have a title in your queue, it could be gone without any warning, leaving you scratching your head.
As of right now, streaming services aren’t the end-all-be-all. But they’re not going anywhere and seem to be improving, so many of these cons could turn to pros in a matter of time. For now, take them for what they are: another means to receive some decent entertainment.