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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Cost of streaming divides users

Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu among leading competitors
Cost of streaming divides users

When Netflix first aired “House of Cards” in 2013, no one guessed that they would become a film industry giant. Now the company intends to launch 600 hours of programming this year, and competitors like Amazon and Hulu are trying to launch their own original series. As other networks like HBO and Showtime join the digital game, it’s obvious the industry is rapidly changing. With so many diverse networks, it’s tempting to subscribe to them all. But at what cost?

Each network has its strengths. You want HBO content? It’s on Amazon Prime. How about “Friends,” “Mad Men” or “Breaking Bad?” They’re on Netflix. For movie buffs, the Criterion Collection has an exclusive deal with Netflix to distribute future titles.

Joe Brown, a digital media professor in the College of Communication, also pointed out that Netflix is home to a variety of different documentaries.

Each of the three main streaming networks previously mentioned comes with a price. For $9.99, a subscription to Netflix will get you an HD viewing along with the option to share your account with one other person simultaneously. Hulu finally brought back their commercial-free option in the summer for $11.99 a month, but you can also add a Showtime subscription for a total of $20 a month.

With all of the subscriptions offered, prices can add up quickly. Amanda Keeler, a digital media professor in the College of Communication, has a subscription to all three of the major streaming networks since each one of them has something special that interests her.

“It’s not like you go to Hulu because that’s where all the sci-fi is, (or) Amazon Prime because that’s where all the X Y or Z shows are,” Keeler said.

Keeler also said she understands that it’s not entirely feasible to have them all.

“Back in college, $12 was, ‘Do I eat tomorrow, or get Hulu for a month?'” Keeler said.

The upscale is Hulu offers next-day viewing of many of the shows airing on ABC, CBS, NBC, CW and FOX, so in case people missed the episode as it aired, they can still stream it legally. Meanwhile Amazon Prime offers a onetime flat rate of $50 a year for college students or $100 for non students. It comes with more than just free shipping. Music services and Cloud Photo services are also offered, but rarely advertised.

Ben Dombrowski, a sophomore in the College of Communication, said he’s so used to the Netflix that he does not see the value in getting a Hulu subscription.

“They don’t really promote their shows that much,” Dombrowski said.

Amazon advertises its Fire Stick and other services regularly, but rarely any ads for their programming will appear.  In addition, Amazon has started offering add-on subscriptions to their services, most of which have flown under the radar. Now you can add a Starz, Showtime, a Comedy Central service and a few major film company add-ons like a Sundance Documentary and the Tribeca shortlist for various different costs a month.

Then, there are networks like HBO, Showtime and Starz, which rely heavily on cable subscribers, as their networks are an add-on bonus. For a long time, the only way to get a subscription to them was to go through your cable provider and pay an extra $15-20 a month to have the service. Now, HBO, Showtime and Starz have a way to reach out to others with the need of a cable subscription. HBO Now and Showtime Anytime are stand alone subscriptions allowing access to their library of movies and original programming for $14.99 and $10 a month, respectively. Starz can be added on to Amazon for a subscription of $8.99 a month. Each of these subscriptions allow for a free trial period so viewers can decide if it’s worth the cost in the end.

Liam Mason, a sophomore in the College of Communication, said that he enjoys HBO and Showtime services. Mason likes HBO for its movie catalog and Showtime for original series like “Homeland” and “Billions,” which just launched a couple of weeks ago.

“While we sort of celebrate all these new distribution platforms, we are now at a point where no human can possibly consume all of the new television that is coming out,” Keeler said.

With all current options, it seems like we might get more in the future. NBC Universal recently launched Seeso, a comedy subscription service that offers all of “Saturday Night Live,” as well as episodes of “Parks and Recreation” and “30 Rock” along with original series like the popular “Cyanide and Happiness” web series.

“In the beginning with TV, you had a couple of broadcast channels,” Brown said. “And then you got cable and then you had 40 channels and then 100 channels,” Brown said.

We may see streaming networks expand at a fast rate as TV did. Eventually, the industry may reach a point when a different network will be created for each individual interest, whether it’s documentaries or independent films. On the other hand, it may become harder and harder to maintain a subscription to everything.

“I think we are going to see this happening with streaming services, where some networks are going to start branding content,” Brown said.

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